An alternative perspective to violence and heartbreak: new opportunities offer volunteers a taste of ‘real life’ in the Middle East

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History, hospitality and a cultural crossroads: volunteers on new Projects Abroad placements contribute towards a stable, peaceful future through education.

It’s a new destination for us but the feedback we’ve had so far is that volunteers grasp the importance of the work they’re doing and are already making a real difference

Whatever the story, the Israel -Palestine conflict is never far from the headlines. With twists and developments that leave broadcasters, politicians and, sometimes, those caught up in it unable to separate fact from fiction, the struggle elucidates raw emotions even among those who know little of the history.

It is against this background that Projects Abroad UK has launched a series of volunteer programmes in Israel and Palestine. For people with an interest in the region, volunteering in cities such as Jerusalem and Bethlehem offers a unique experience, according to David Flaschner, Project Abroad’s Programme Advisor.

“The reality of daily life in these cities is a far cry from the images we are constantly fed by the media,” said David. “Volunteers are welcomed into the local community with typical Middle Eastern hospitality. As well as experiencing the atmosphere and beauty of these sacred, ancient cities, they contribute towards the education of a new generation of Israeli and Palestinian children. They therefore play a vital role in securing a more peaceful future for this region.

“Frankly, it’s a bit different to most of the other programmes we run because of the significance of this region to so many religions. It’s a new destination for us but the feedback we’ve had so far is that volunteers grasp the importance of the work they’re doing and are already making a real difference.”

The organisation’s placements in Jerusalem and Bethlehem centre on the care and teaching of children. Formal qualifications are welcomed but not necessary – the impact of imaginative, enthusiastic volunteer teachers and carers, whether or not they have experience, can be life-changing for young people in the region.

Christopher Stiefvater-Thomas spent a month on the care programme, at SOS Children’s Village, a large orphanage, and at the House of Hope, a home for the blind and children with special needs. He says of his experience: “I never once felt in any danger; people in Palestine are very friendly and welcoming, and because Bethlehem attracts a lot of tourists the city is well policed and more peaceful than most British towns.

“There can’t be many places on Earth with as rich and interesting a history as this.”

About Projects Abroad UK

Established in 1992, Projects Abroad is a leading organiser of volunteer projects, work experience and gap year placements. With a flexible approach and experienced in-country staff Projects Abroad has now helped over 50,000 volunteers achieve their goals by working with developing communities in over 25 destinations worldwide.

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David Flaschner
Projects Abroad
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