Picture of leg of a child walking down steps made of car tyres.

As director of International Relations for The Parents Circle-Families Forum, which has offices in Beit Jala on the West Bank and in Israel, Damelin has traveled to the US twice, as well as London and Italy, since the war in Gaza began. 

Each time, she carries a message about why we should address the needs of children and families. She carries a message asking: in the midst of polarization, can we agree to help the children? 

But, unfortunately, Damelin sees people in other countries importing the conflict in Palestine and Israel to create conflict of their own. 

That’s exactly what isn’t needed,” said Damelin. If you can’t be part of the solution, it’s better to leave us alone.”

In February, Damelin was invited by the World Bank to speak at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. There must have been 200 students,” she said. The students were not allowed to bring flags or posters or anything like that.”

She witnessed young adults come to an understanding of how they can be part of the solution—or at least not be part of the problem. 

Some poor kid who is studying law and happens to be Jewish isn’t suddenly influencing the war cabinet,” she said, adding that she finds the uptick in hatred against Jewish people in other countries very disturbing.

Land of rockets

The Parents Circle-Families Forum is now helping 700 families—a number that has rapidly grown since Oct. 7. Damelin said she has watched children caught in the trauma of the conflict realize they are not invincible.

What kind of adults are they going to become?” she asked. "The work is really cut out for us.”

In one way the message of The Parents Circle-Families Forum is simple: war will not bring peace. But finding ways to help has become very complicated. 

Before I left for America, I had a meeting on Zoom with Palestinian women from our group,” said Damelin. Their daily lives are extremely difficult.”

Many of their husbands have not been able to go to Israel for employment since 7 October. The Christian schools are working but there is not freedom of movement,” she said.

When can healing begin?

In September 2023, a group of kids from The Parents Circle-Families Forum traveled to the UN to sign a charter for nonviolence and reconciliation. And not even three weeks later—the war,” said Damelin.

The Parents Circle-Families Forum continuities to work with those kids and others. We are going to try to take the summer camp this year to Cyprus because these kids need to be together,” she said. There’s so much healing that has to happen everywhere.”

Damelin reflected that people want instant solutions but those aren’t coming. You need to give people time,” said Damelin.

Learn more: Easter Initiative 2024

This material was produced as part of the 2024 Easter Initiative of the World Council of Churches - Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (WCC-EAPPI). As we witness violence and injustice in the Holy Land and the struggle of its peoples to find peace, the 2024 WCC-EAPPI Easter initiative lifts up the call to roll away the heavy stone of violence, war and occupation, pain and suffering, and to remind the world of what is needed to bring about peace, to transform swords into ploughshares.