Encompass - The Daniel Braden Reconciliation Trust

Encompass works to bring together young people from different cultures and backgrounds, supporting them to become more understanding and tolerant of each other while giving them the skills and confidence to promote intercultural understanding in their communities.
Aug 27, 2014

Encompass Trust Youth Summer Camp, West Bank

Encompass Youth Summer Camp
Encompass Youth Summer Camp

Encompass Trust Youth Summer Camp

August 10th to 13th 2014

Samaritan Peace Centre, Mount Gerizim, Nablus, West Bank

Welcome to the latest update from Encompass – The Daniel Braden Reconciliation Trust. Thanks so much for donating towards our work.

Given the current crisis in Gaza, we thought it would be good to post a report about a recent (and remarkable) project which happened in the Palestinian West Bank.

Samaritans and Palestinians from different parts of the West Bank took part in the event which took place at the Samaritan Peace Centre, Mount Gerizim. The goals of the project were:

  • To introduce children from different communities and religions in Palestine to one another and encourage understanding, cooperation and breaking down of stereotypes
  • To let children from the West Bank learn about the Samaritan community first hand
  • Empower our alumni to create, organise and run a project independently
  • Help participants with personal and community identity through activities and games
  • Although not an original goal, help participants with trauma healing/relief due to the recent violence and closures in the region
  • Encourage team building and national pride

Encompass Palestinian Coordinator Karen AbuZant tells how it went. 

“Planning for this project was very challenging due to the recent outbreak of violence against Palestinian during the past two months. However, the team were determined to make it happen, even if we had to change our strategies and goals a bit. We did not have confirmation of participation of youth from the south of the West Bank until the day before the event, so we invited more youth from the north, thinking that they would not be coming. However, groups from Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jenin were able to join in after the lightening of the siege on checkpoints. We ended up with 40 participants and 12 leaders.

Day 1: Icebreaking and identity

We began with ice breaking activities such as each participants saying their name then doing an action and the rest of the group repeating that name and action. Many more games and activities were used to help the participants get to know one another's names, where they were from, their hobbies/talents, unique qualities and likes.

After lunch, we took a tour of the Samaritan Museum and the Samaritan Village. We were told stories about the Samaritan community and some of the customs that have been observed by them for over 3,600 years.

During the second half of the first day we focused on Identity. We did activities such as an 'I am' poem, 'Two Truths and a Lie' and 'Identity Totems'. It was amazing to see the kids delving into themselves and making realizations that they never considered before.

Day 2: Focus on Community

We started by doing an exercise called 'The Wind Blows', helping the young people to realize how much they have in common. Then we moved on to drama by one child in the group wearing a plain white mask, pretending to be an alien coming to earth for the first time, discovering items in the room, discovering people and trying to make a connection. Then another alien was introduced and the first alien showed how happy he was not to be alone and they went on discovering together.

We also used the masks in a dark blue and light blue. The light blue represented peace.....the dark conflict. The wearer of the mask had to act out the colour mask he/she was wearing. They represented peace by shaking hands, hugging, and helping people in different ways...healing the sick, feeding the hungry and comforting the sad. The conflict was mostly imitating physical violence, but then they started to pretend to gossip or instigate arguments between the audience members. This exercise was to install upon them how their behaviour can positively or negatively affect their community.

The day went on with similar activities and also outdoor team sports. We ended the day with a quiz about the different communities in Palestine, followed by a talent show and dance party.

We said goodbye to most of the Samaritans, as they were going the next morning on a community trip to the Dead Sea plus lots of hugs, handshakes and exchanging of Facebook and email accounts.

Day 3: Focus on new friendships

The children helped prepare breakfast with us, working together to make sure everyone was fed. Then they helped to pack up sleeping bags and cleaned the venue. This showed us that they learned a lot about community and how to give of themselves to make it better.

Afterwards some of the older participants went up to the holy mountain to see ruins and spend some time getting to know each other even better. The younger kids make friendship bracelets and gave them to one another. 

We had a pizza party for lunch, followed by a treat....'knefeh' the famous local sweet in Nablus.

The leaders took this opportunity to have a short meeting to discuss and review the project. We all agree that even though due to our challenges, we weren't able to do everything we planned, our goals were still met, with respect to both the participants and leaders. They said they learned more than they ever imagined they would and were proud of themselves and the participants for working together to overcome the problems thrown our way.

Then everyone pitched-in to pack up the bus. The Nablus group left first, taking a taxi to their homes down the mountain. The big bus dropped off kids and their leaders to taxis going to Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jenin, then continued on to Tulkarem with the rest of the kids and leaders.”

Karen AbuZant, Encompass Palestinian coordinator

 

If you think this project and the work of Encompass is worth supporting, please do donate to us on Global Giving. Your donations will be greatly appreciated and put to very good use.

Thank you.

May 29, 2014

The Encompass ripple effect

Participant workshop in action
Participant workshop in action

Thank you so much for your support for Encompass - The Daniel Braden Reconciliation Trust. Welcome to the latest update on our work.

As a reminder, we run international and UK programmes with the following aims:

  • To educate young people on the nature of identity and conflict
  • To equip young people with the skills to disseminate their learning within their own and other communities
  • To empower young people with the confidence and opportunities to make a difference

You probably already know about the success of our programmes, but may not know about the Encompass 'ripple effect'. Programme alumni are encouraged, supported and mentored to use what they have learnt by developing their own projects and workshops, thus making sure that the good work doesn't end once the initial programme has finished.

We thought you may be interested to hear about what some of our alumni have been up to:

 

Sharing knowledge in Indonesia 

Four members of the Encompass Youth Board embarked on a three-week trip volunteering with Encompass Indonesia. They ran a summer programme of workshops and activities for young people from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds in Malang. They fundraised for the trip themselves making and selling salads, cakes and curries, organising events and doing a sponsored 10k run. They also received a grant from the young people’s funding charity, the Jack Petchey Foundation. One of the group, Aisha, said:

 “We ran a combination of workshops, lengthy discussions and team building activities; focused on conflict resolution, peer mediation, identity and belonging, diversity, community awareness and confidence. The project challenged the prejudices that the young people held against each other, and through the training the young people received they become peer mediators and facilitators in their communities.”

Israelis and Palestinians combine for peace 

A group of Encompass alumni from Israel and a group from the Palestinian Territories have come up with an excellent project to build bridges between communities and religions. Both groups are made up of alumni who first met on the Encompass November 2013 international programme.

The Israeli plan is for British Muslims to visit Israel to meet and share with 30-40 young people recruited through youth projects and centres in Israel.

Activities will involve tackling the theme of prejudice, a talk about Islam and life around it. Project participants will be encouraged to ask challenging questions.

At the same time the Palestinian group are planning to bring together at least 15 young people aged 15-17 from the West Bank to take part in activities that promote solidarity and cross cultural/inter-religious dialogue. The group will be made up of five Christians from Bethlehem and Ramallah areas, five Muslims from Tulkarem and Nablus, and five Samaritans from Gerazim.

UK success

Some of the young people who came on the October 2013 UK programme took part in a programme of inter-cultural activities as part of Interfaith Week in November 2013, including an intercultural evening with people from a variety of diverse communities, making and sharing something traditional from their community. There was also an additional opportunity to express what their community meant to them through drama, then listening to other communities doing the same.

We ran a session for the young people on how to apply for funding for their own inter-community activities through O2 Think Big and we organised a session for our Youth Board on presentation skills. One of our young people has gone on to volunteer on an additional Encompass programme sharing her own experience and skills, one has volunteered at a multi-cultural youth project, and two now peer train.

The benefits of young people getting involved in Encompass and subsequent activities has been enhanced during the year by our successful registration with AQA as a body able to award accreditation for efforts in taking forward the Encompass message.  Those efforts and experiences of our alumni are increasingly now being made accessible via blogs written by them.  These can be found at http://theencompassdiaries.wordpress.com/ and speak much more eloquently than any staff reports of the transformations that take place as a result of our programmes.

Thank you once again for your support for Encompass. Our successes wouldn't be possible without the support of people like you. But of course our work costs money. If you do feel able to support us again at this time you will be helping to continue the Encompass ripple effect of understanding and tolerance amongst diverse communities and cultures.

Please support us again if you can.

Best wishes,

The Encompass Team

Youth Board member Miriam leads a workshop
Youth Board member Miriam leads a workshop
Safoora takes charge of a workshop in Indonesia
Safoora takes charge of a workshop in Indonesia
Mar 13, 2014

"Encompass was my perfect world"

Dima
Dima

"Encompass was my perfect world"

Thank you so much for your support for our work. Welcome to another update about how your donations are creating a lasting peace and understanding between young people from different cultures.

Last month we ran our latest international Journey of Understanding. The weather in the Lake District was wet, windy, and bitingly cold.  The mountain tops were dusted with snow, which occasionally flurried down into the valleys. Otherwise, rain and hail battered Derwentwater centre which acted as the host venue for the programme.

This was a programme of highs, and lows. The Journey of Understanding is never easy, as participants challenge themselves and each other to leave their comfort zone; exploring their own identity, blowing their stereotypes and assumptions out of the water and sometimes throwing their whole world view into question, before building it back up into something new and beautiful.

When one of the participants received news of bereavement in their family, it was amazing to witness the support within the group. Over just one week, these 24 young people from wildly different backgrounds and cultures had built strong bonds of friendship, which only deepened in the face of adversity and tragedy. 

I could go on and on about the highs, which were many, but will instead leave you with this beautiful story, written by one of the participants on the Journey of Understanding February 2014:

 

“I believe every one of us has had a different experience to that of one another, even though we have been through the same programme. How we perceive it and how we compare it to where we come from and when we go back, makes the difference.

With Encompass I felt home, the like I have not felt for a long time. Of course ‘home’ might differ from one person to another, but it made me feel this way because it connected me with the true me; with my true identity, my pure me, a me that I cannot show where I come from, because of all the traditions, stigmas, stereotypes and a societal shadow that follows you wherever you go. Encompass gave me the space to express myself and to trust without fear of being misunderstood.

Honestly, I had no prior expectations of the programme, as I did not have much time to think about it.  However, from the moment I heard about the programme, I decided on the spot that this was something I wanted to partake in. I wanted the chance to see the world from outside the bubble I am living in; see how people think, how similar and different we really are.

I was worried about how it would be to meet the Israelis; something I never thought I would do. Worried not because I didn’t want to meet them, but because I never thought I’d have the chance to just sit with them and talk as human beings, listen to each other and try with all our energy to understand one another. Of course understanding is a point you reach after a process of other things, as a friend told me, such as recognition and acknowledgment, which because of the limited time we did not have the time to reach. At least I heard part of their story, and have seen them as humans.

I wonder how it will go on now that we are back to reality. I hope we will continue listening to each other in the process of trying to understand, I reach a point where I feel that I have been heard and acknowledged as a Palestinian, going through everything all Palestinians have been through under the Israeli occupation.

I thought it would be interesting knowing how others think and live, but I never knew I will bond this fast and this much with so many people. I just wish we had more time. We lived a glimpse of ‘idealism’, where everyone tried their best to be as best as they could be. It’s the life I am trying to achieve. It’s the change I am trying to live. In the words of Gandhi, ‘the change I want to see in the world’.

Now that I am back, I will use all the skills I’ve learnt, keeping in mind all the discussions we had and all the sessions from my Journey of Understanding. I hope to share my thoughts and feelings and put them into action. Hopefully all this positive energy will erase lots of the negative energy floating around the place I live.

Encompass was, and will always be, my perfect world. A world, I dream will one day be forever.

Thank you for this amazing chance; I believe it was meant to be.

Love from Palestine.”

Dima

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