The Open House in Ramle - a peace education center in Ramle, Israel
 

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Olive Tree Project


The Olive Tree Project is a program we had been dreaming about the whole of last year. We wished to work with 2 schools–a Hebrew school and an Arab school which will create olive tree sculptures for each other. The artist we had in mind was Nihad Dabit, a renowned Palestinian painter and sculptor from Ramle, with whom Open House has been working for years*.

Our dream has come true! We launched The Olive Tree Project on the 23rd of  January 2012! Vivian Rabia, project director of Open House, has made the connection between the Terra Santa school run by the Franciscans in which Christian and Muslim children study, and Ofek Hebrew speaking school in Ramle.

On the 18th of January, headmasters and teachers of the schools had met in Ofek. It was decided that Nihad will meet with each school every week for an hour and a half with 6th, 7th and 8th grades from Ofek and Terra Santa.  In addition each school will give hospitality to the other school. The project will continue until the month of May, when a ceremony of Tree Exchange will take place in a Ramle Community Center, an occasion which will be open to the public.
Thank God! On the 14th of May, we had a Tree Exchange ceremony and exhibition with the students from both schools, the headmasters,
teachers and parents of the classes. The event took place in a theater hall of a community center in Ramle where the paintings of the students featuring their vision of

peace were in exposition. The Jewish children read out beautiful statements they wrote about peace, and the choir of the Terra Santa school sang peace songs. All of us were deeply inspired. The idea was born that perhaps both schools could create a common choir! The Olive Tree project gave us tremendous encouragement. This time, it was funded by the Fetzer Foundation in the USA dedicated to fostering forgiveness. We hope to have the funds to recreate it next year!


*In the past, Nihad Dabit gave wire sculpting courses for Arab and Jewish children at Open House. Also, we received permission from the Municipality to do a mosaic wall in the center of town from recycled materials, in which the High School Arabs and Jews chose the Biblical scene of Adam and Eve. Nihad directed this important project. Recently, Nihad made artistic paintings on the walls of Open House back yard, when Open House made renovations in its back yard and playground for the Nursery School.