“I don’t dream anymore” – Yousef, 13, Palestinian beggar
I glance across the room at my two kids sitting side by side watching “Sponge Bob”. They hum the introductory song off key, but still, they sound beautiful! They look so much alike; dark curly hair, and big dark, almost black, eyes.
I do not recall the exact moment that I decided that I wanted to adopt a child. I have a son, but my plan and God’s plan were not the same, and I was not able to have another. My son wanted a sibling, and always asked, “Why don’t I have a
brother? Will I ever have one?”
And so the subject of adoption came up, much to my husband’s dismay. He was satisfied with one child, and felt that adoption was an unusual path to take. He knew his family would not accept it. I did not want my happiness and needs
to be controlled by his family, so I did not give up.
For over two years a wall would go around him when I talked about adopting.
By coincidence, family and friends were giving me piles of used clothes to take to orphanages in Palestine. I “invited” my husband to come with me. Reluctantly, he agreed.
I think at this point my work was done and God stepped in, for there we met a little girl who touched my husband’s heart. He decided he wanted to adopt her. Unfortunately, politics made it impossible.
Needless to say, just over a year later, our beautiful daughter, now five, came to brighten our lives.
But that is not where it ends. Last year, our social worker called to tell me that my daughter has a four month old brother, and would we take him? Without discussion, we knew we had to bring these two innocent children together.
Since he has been with us, I have lost my freedom. I walk with chubby hands clinging to my legs, I stumble over toys, and the house is constantly turned upside down. But it does not matter because while the confusion is temporary, the love is forever.
My children softened the hardest hearts. My husband’s attitude changed, and my in-laws, who once turned their faces from me, have opened their hearts and love the children dearly. Some are now sponsoring children in Gaza.
I wish I can help all the children of the world, but that is impossible. I am only one person. So my thoughts stay closer to home – to the children of my community and a bit beyond.
I am disturbed by the discrimination of Arabs in Israel. In Arab cities, there are few opportunities for children to grow or be challenged. They develop a narrow view of the world. I worry about the Palestinian children who leave school, and come to Israel to beg, or try to make a few pennies selling lighters, gum, or worthless toys. I fear for the thousands of orphans resulting from the conflict, and the young Israeli soldiers, M16s hanging from their shoulders, who are learning to oppress and teaching to hate.
Palestine and Israel are sad places where the goodness of the human spirit is wasted on fear, greed, oppression and bitterness.
Palestinian and Israeli women – mothers, wives, sisters - have the same dreams, fears, and needs. We should help ourselves since the government will not. For the sake of the children and their futures, it’s time women took a stand.
My vision is to provide a place where women’s inner strength can be drawn upon. I want to light the flame that has been dampened for so long. Offering a variety of classes, and volunteer and coexistence programs will encourage curiosity, learning, and growth. Women can pass their newfound knowledge to their children. Knowledge brings strength, and powerful women make powerful children.
I hope that one day we will say, “Enough is enough – our children deserve better!”
As a VOF correspondent, I can give a voice to the people in this troubled part of the world whose stories are overlooked by the international media. As a Palestinian living in Israel, not only can I FEEL the stories, but I can TELL them.