esterday was a long but worthwhile day for the Wi’am children as they embarked on an expedition into Northern governates of the West Bank. Staff, volunteers, and the young people arrived at Wi’am Center early: distances in the West Bank can take extra time to traverse. Since there are often no direct routes, drivers have to take a few switch-backs to make the journey possible. Nevertheless, dramatic landscapes filtered through the windows as the hours passed. The kids, as ever, were full of energy the entire trip. When evening came, they could only be placated with plenty of music and the chance to dance in the aisles as the buses returned to Bethlehem.
The first major stop on the journey was at Jacob’s well, a site outside of Nablus that was famous even when Jesus was doing his ministry. The site’s New Testament significance stems from Jesus’s trip through Samaria: this was the well where he conversed with the Samaritan woman and promised her “living water”. A large orthodox church now buffers the ancient well. The kids each got a glass of water from the well and a few minutes to admire the artwork on the inside of the church. Outside, they were able to stretch their legs for a few minutes in a garden area.
From there, the entire group passed through Nablus and on to more adventures. They stopped in Sebastia, where John the Baptist was held prisoner. Men were busy working on the mosque that also sits on the grounds, which was once a church. The kids had the chance to explore the small quarters where prisoners were kept long ago and have some photo opportunities.
The day was a long way from over when everyone climbed aboard the buses in Sebastia, since they had already been on the bus for a few hours and were bound for Jenin. Some may wonder where the kids found the patience or motivation to endure such a long bus trip. The answer is this: they were eager to get to the amusement park! The oppressive heat was not nearly enough to prevent them from riding the rides. The time melted away as if it were only seconds.
More fun awaited on the return trip. The buses stopped at a restaurant built over its own water-source. Patrons can eat and talk with their feet submerged in fresh, cold water. There were also a pair of pools for the little ones to enjoy and numerous shady places where teenagers could socialize. This was an oasis in a day filled with time in the hot sun or stuffed inside buses. It was also a rare chance to play in the water for children who live in a dry climate and an unfavorable situation. The kids were joined by the Wi’am staff and volunteers, both from the community and abroad, who care deeply about the emotional welfare of Bethlehem’s young people. We are so glad they could have a good time and enjoy the historical sites, amusement park, and cold water.
Additionally, the group simply had to stop in Nablus on the way home for some of its famous k’nafa. How could we pass through without having some?