GIVAT HAVIVA GOING PLACES … CHILDREN WRITE for PEACE publication presented to authors SHOSHANA FAIRE, (Australia) KAT CALLO (London and New York) & ANNE WATTS (Wales, Britain)
Photos and Text by Lydia Aisenberg
Although they have never met, Shoshana Faire from New South Wales, Australia, Anne Watts from Wales in Britain and Kat Callo, an American born resident of London for many years, have a great deal in common - apart from the fact that all three are published authors, avid travelers and recently whilst visiting Israel a few weeks apart, guests of this writer. During their short stay in the country the ladies received copies of the Givat Haviva publication Children Write for Peace, the subject material of which close to the heart of all three women who care deeply about building relationships between people in conflict.
A native of Sydney, Shoshana is regarded as an expert in the field of Conflict Resolution. She is co-author of the classic book on conflict resolution Everyone Can Win - Responding to Conflict Constructively (together with Helena Cornelius). The original, first published in 1989, was reprinted 22 times in English and has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Indonesian and Romanian. The book is widely known in Israel – and since Shoshana’s recent visit to Israel, a copy can now also be found in Givat Haviva.
Some 30 years ago Shoshana studied Hebrew at Kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek. During her stay on kibbutz, and following an interest in archaeology, Shoshana participated in a dig within the kibbutz grounds that led to the uncovering of one of the oldest olive presses found in the Israel. Over the years Shoshana maintained her connection with this writer, a member of the kibbutz and working at Givat Haviva for many years – and through that connection and articles penned by her, Shoshana developed a deep interest in the work of Givat Haviva and the fascinating people and places to be found in Wadi Ara and the northern part of the West Bank.
“Having read so much about Givat Haviva and also having met people back home in Sydney who had participated in seminars and tours organized by the International Department of the organization, I am really delighted to have the opportunity this visit to Israel to actually see it all for myself,” said Shoshana prior to embarking on a tour of the region taking in the Green Line, security fence, Palestinian West Bank villages as well as Arab Israeli communities sitting on either side of the Amir mountain range enabling her to glean more knowledge and understanding of the region and of the Pardes Hanna/Karkur – Kfar Kara SHARED COMMUNITIES projects undertaken by Givat Haviva since its founding in 1949.
Beginning an in-depth tour at the Salem checkpoint in the Jezreel Valley and finishing up at the village of Barta’a via the Dotan Valley and Barta’a checkpoint in the security fence brought about many complex questions – not always answerable – and at the end of the day a promise to return for more next visit to the country.
ANNE WATTS grew up in North Wales and trained as a nurse and midwife in Britain. In 1967 she joined Save the Children and over a span of 40 years worked in some of the world’s most turbulent war zones the likes of Vietnam, Cambodia, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
Last year Anne’s book Always the Children was published – to great acclaim - by Simon and Shuster and this month her second book continuing the story of her nursing career in far flung corners of the world is about to be launched.
When Anne decided recently she wanted to pay a visit to Israel and was searching the internet she came across an article about the Jezreel Valley and Kibbutz Ramat David near to the Israeli Air Force base of the same name. She read that the base and kibbutz had been named after former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, a true Welshman!
“I grew up with Benjamin Carey Evans, the grandson of Lloyd George and became fascinated with the whole concept of these places named after his grandfather and when I mentioned this to him he was really insistent that I visit,” explained Anne. She contacted the writer of the article – again yours truly who also happens to hail from Wales – and she received an invitation to visit the Jezreel Valley and explore the Welsh connections therein.
“Benjy, who is now 84, mentioned that his Aunt Megan, his sister Olwen’s mother and the daughter of Lloyd-George, had visited the kibbutz. She was also a politician and the visit was an official one apparently, much enjoyed and she told her son about it and that she had also taken a lot of photographs.”
During the few days Anne spent in the area, she took great interest in the relationships between the Jewish and Arab communities living in the region, the work of Givat Haviva and proved to have an insatiable appetite to learn more about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Before her return to Britain, Anne was presented with the Givat Haviva publication CHILDREN WRITE FOR PEACE and her comments received upon return to Britain as follows:
“There is a heart breaking magnificence in these children putting pen or brush to paper, daring to dream peace. When Lydia gave me this book during my recent visit to Israel, I was immediately transported back in time to 1960s Vietnam, 1970s Cambodia, and 1980s Lebanon.
Because I nursed traumatized children in those areas and know only too well the damage that conflict inflicts on all participants, but particularly on the children. To grow up surrounded by fear, suspicion and violence; where hopes and dreams are strangled at birth and where the abnormal becomes the norm, is a shameful thing.
But give a child some crayons, paints or a pen, and leave that child with a pad of paper and something magical happens.
These beautiful poems must be made to reverberate down the corridors of power, where politicians and world leaders seem mired and paralyzed in mindless hatreds passed down from generation to generation. Surely it is not beyond our wit to heed what these Jewish and Arabic children are telling us. They are the future and their dreams must not be trampled into the dust. The more I learn of the work done by GIVAT HAVIVA, the more I too begin to dream that maybe, just maybe there is some hope for the future of our children and Jews and Arabs can show everyone the road to peace.
Anne Watts. 2012.”
Lieutenant David J Fontana was one of the 343 New York firefighters that died while helping to rescue around 28,000 people from the collapsing World Trade Center in September, 2001. Kat Callo, a New Yorker who has lived in London for many years, is a cousin of Dave Fontana. Following the tragedy Kat founded Project Mosaic, a UK-based charity that teaches people to be tolerant of those coming from different backgrounds. The charity is also due to be launched in the near future in New York.
During a recent visit to Israel, Kat took up the suggestion of a friend in London who had participated in a seminar at Givat Haviva and encouraged her to do likewise. After being shown around the campus and meeting some of the staff members, Kat embarked on a tour of the region and before continuing on her journey to meet with peace education activists in Acre was presented with a copy of CHILDREN WRITE for PEACE to take back and share with her colleagues at Project Mosaic, an organization promoting interfaith and intercultural tolerance, multi-ethnic good citizenship and integration of immigrant communities and combat prejudice, group hatred and extremism.
An Internet entrepreneur, company director, writer and grass roots organizer, Kat is dedicated to peaceful social change and is also founding director of Rosetta Consulting Ltd., an Internet consultancy for apartment owners and has authored two books dealing with property. Prior to this, Kat worked for Reuters as a foreign correspondent in London, Brussels, Manila, Hong King and Hanoi and became senior vice president in charge of global online media business at Reuters London headquarters.
A great deal of information, ideas and shared hopes for a better future were exchanged and discussed in depth with all 3 of these extraordinary visitors, none of whom have met but visited Israel – and a Givat Haviva experience - within a week or two of each other.
One’s imagination boggles at the thought of how much ground, experience and goals for the future would be covered if the three ladies did meet at some point – and if they might possibly need an enthusiastic Givat Haviva facilitator!