CROSSDEV: Introducing Mohammad, a young man that wants to stay in Palestine
This story was collected and edited by Noor Hodaly, CROSSDEV Communication Officer for partner MIAK.
"A genuine change must first come from within the individual,
only then can he or she attempt to make a significant contribution to humanity"
Masar Ibrahim al Khalil is a 330 km walking trail of Palestine. It starts from Rummana village (south fo Jenin) and goes all the way to Beit Mirsim (south Hebron), at the border with the Gaza strip.
A new 50 km segment is being implemented through the CROSSDEV project, which aims at creating the basis for new forms of sustainable tourism so to boost the economy of the villages. Such new segment is a U-turn, entering areas with no experience or background with community-based tourism. Yet, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Antique Studies and Research, the area boasts hundreds historical places that are currently a secret gem.
I want to start my story from here, to speak about an ambitious young man: Mohammad. A 29 years old who graduated from Cairo University with a BA in Journalism, Mohammad works as Public Relation Coordinator for his city in Beit Awwa Municipality. In addition to that, he is a volunteer coordinator for the CROSSDEV project.
Ghaida Rahil, CROSSDEV project manager for the trail, met Mohamed during the first introductory meeting we conducted at Al Qum village. She presented an overview of Masar Ibrahim al Khalil union, the trail and the CROSSDEV project.
“Who would like to be a coordinator for Hebron region?”, she asked. Mohammad raised his hand.
I went and interviewed him. As the clock was ticking, I could feel that Mohammad was so excited he didn’t want to stop telling me about his dreams and plans to contribute to the scopes of this project. “Palestinians are resisting despite all the obstacles that they face, he said. Finding a decent life in Palestine is not easy, and that’s why many young Palestinians are searching for an opportunity to leave”.
Against all the difficulties with voice full of hope, he added:
The CROSSDEV project gave me a ray of hope and a way to reconnect with Palestine in different ways rather the one we live every day now. CROSSDEV is a development project unlike the others that were focused on infrastructure only. This project will merge the essences of each place in one entity and focuses on humans not stones.
As Mohammad kept addressing messages like this to the local community, they were immediately convinced to get involved.
As he started his volunteering, Mohammad held individual meetings with the locals, emphasising the importance for everyone to study the features of the project in order to get ideas on where it can help them search and extract from the rich resources that they have in their area. He reported lots of ideas from each village. For instance, the village of Beit Awwa will focus on empowering women, AL Qum will focus on historical places, and Der el Assal will focus on entertainment service for visitors, etc.
In the end Mohammad is one of the young Palestinians who are willing to have a different life in the future by discovering the hidden rich resources that they have here, at home. Masar Ibrahim AL Khalili strategy is to target youth to work on the project so to lift up their communities by establishing medium/small businesses, home stays, women centres, tour guides. This will give them resources to live off and, most importantly, it will bring back connection with their land without thinking of leaving.