St Philip and St James’s church, Grafton Road, Cheltenham, GL50 2DD

Greetings from St Andrew’s Ramallah! 01/12/15

Friendships are developing rapidly with our church family in Ramallah. We have just heard some fascinating details about their celebrations for St Andrew’s day, and a sobering account of everyday travel between Ramallah and Jerusalem. The descriptions come from Ruba, whom many of you will remember from her visit to us with Fadi in June, and Hanan, who is helping to organise our next trip to Ramallah in October 2016.

Celebrations for St Andrew’s Day

“We wished that Pip & Jim’s members were with us as we celebrated the patron saint of our church on the 30th of November. It was a lovely evening. On this occasion, we had a special service followed by dinner & family-friendly fun filled activities led by Rev. Fadi & Ruba.

We played musical chairs and a balloons game. For the party we had salads and chicken stuffed with freekeh (wheat grains) and vegetables. It was really great. For sure we will have a lot of good times with you too when you visit us!”

A visit to Jerusalem

Hanen describes how she and Samer went to celebrate St Andrew’s Day at St Andrew’s church in Jerusalem:

“For today’s celebrations at the Scott’s hostel (St Andrew’s Scottish Gest House, Jerusalem) near the church overlooking Jerusalem, there was a reception and we had different kinds of food, starting with shawerma (grilled and sliced chicken or meat), then salads, sushi and finger food”.

Qalandia Checkpoint

A more troubling aspect of daily life for Palestinians is crossing the many checkpoints. Hanan talks about her experience:

“It’s always a problem getting to Jerusalem because of the Qalandia wall and checkpoint. One has to wait in line (let’s say in narrow cages) till it’s your turn to present your ID. Sometimes you are left to wait for an hour or two, despite the fact that there aren’t a lot of people in the line. You can hear them (the military) shouting at people, returning some of them. Sometimes they decide to close the border for no reason. To tell you the truth I hate going to Jerusalem in such circumstances, especially as sometimes clashes happen between Palestinian youth throwing stones on Israelis, and Israeli soldiers shooting back, and if it happens when you are there, you’ll get stuck in this situation. I haven’t been to Jerusalem for three months because I’m afraid of such things happening while I’m there, but yesterday I decided to go because life has to go on and I really like to go to Jerusalem. Such a nice city that has a different taste than any other city in the world, but unfortunately we are deprived of even going for a visit. I can say I’m lucky and can go once in a while to Jerusalem because I have a permit which allows me in (which they issue for certain reasons) but the majority of Palestinians aren’t allowed to. Anyway life has to go on and we always pray and still have hope that one day we’ll have peace”.

For further information, and for a clearer idea of what Hanan is talking about, go to Kalandia- A Checkpoint Story – YouTube

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