We started our Home Rebuilding program in 2011 in response to one of the cruelest injustices of the occupation of Palestine, the demolition of homes. Since then we have worked on five rebuilding projects alongside Holy Land Trust, local communities, skilled local tradesmen, and most importantly, the families whose homes were demolished. More than 100 Amos volunteers have raised the funds and traveled to the West Bank to help realize the dream of rebuilding a demolished home.
Our home rebuilding trips focus on working with Palestinians living in areas of the West Bank fully controlled by Israel:
Palestinian landowners living in these areas face a very difficult situation when it comes to maintaining or developing their land and property or growing their family. They are required to seek permits for any development or construction from the Israeli military authorities. These permits are almost impossible to obtain and only around 2% of applications are accepted. This is due to a discriminatory planning structure where the Israeli authorities routinely deny permissions and almost entirely refuse to put zoning plans in place for Palestinian villages and other communities in these areas. They also face pressure and often intimidation with violence from Israeli settlers living nearby who are not subject to the same planning restrictions despite the settlements they live in being illegal under International Humanitarian Law.
Our goals for the Home Rebuilding program have been the same since 2011-
We have successfully managed to fully fund each of the projects and feel like our goals have been exceeded by every possible measure. What has surprised and delighted us is the way that the program has also provided the chance to develop deep relationships with the local communities and families we work with. These communities, who do not often get the chance to meet and interact with international visitors to Palestine get the opportunity to have their stories heard and form deep connections with us. Our volunteers carry these stories and the people behind them in their hearts and have a depth of solidarity that would be impossible to create in any other way. We are deeply thankful to Holy Land Trust who is a true partner and a huge inspiration to us for the transformative work they do.
It is impossible for us to imagine the trauma of your home being demolished. Hearing the stories from the families and bringing them back to share with the rest of the world is a serious responsibility for Amos and our volunteers. The mother of our 2019 partner family, Lolo told us
“Our house was demolished on the 4th of September 2018. It was not just the demolition of a house built with stones but the demolition of every hope and dream built with every stone. Nothing is harder than being here and not being able to do anything. To see 400 soldiers and 3 bulldozers demolishing your home in the middle of the night without any reason, nothing is harder than that.”
Our five homes are still standing although none of them are safe from the injustice and threats of the occupation.
But they stand:
As Lolo said... “When I saw the new house, I thought that’s my home, just like a dream. Beautiful”
Jessica Foster - Amos Trust
Jessica is a tutor in Interfaith Engagement at the Queen's Foundation, a theological college in Birmingham and is an ordained Anglican deacon Jessica volunteers for Holy Land Trust a regular basis.