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TAYBEH – On April 1-2, 2017, Palestinian Scouts of Taybeh welcomed a troop of the young Jerusalem Scouts of France coming from Jerusalem for a weekend. Despite the inclement weather, the interaction and exchanges allowed two youth groups’ that cannot easily meet to enjoy mutual discovery.

To accommodate their guests, the Taybeh Scouts planned everything: a landscaped area, where both Palestinian and French flags were fluttering in the wind, awaited the tents of the Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Brownies coming from Jerusalem. The young Palestinians also wished to invite the young French people for meals: though the sunshine, so often present, was lacking, it was not their responsibility !

As soon as the tents were installed, the French Scouts and Cubs saw their Scout brothers from Taybeh arrive and a great common adventure was able to begin in the woods nearby. Around the world, adventure is at the heart of scout learning skills: the barrier of language did not prevent the mixed teams from competing with each other in joy and good humor.

Throughout the weekend, shared activities and meals allowed for getting to know each other and to realize that scouting brings together common core values ​​- the desire to live in fraternity, develop a sense of the other – young people and adults who have so many different everyday lives.

A more organized question-and-answer time allowed both to get to know each other better. French youth, already aware of the difficulties that the Palestinians face in their daily lives, were able to ask questions in order to grasp the realities experienced by young people of their age: the problem of water, displacement, the possibility or not to reunite with Jerusalem.

It was also an opportunity for the French to discover the distinctive characteristic of local scouting where music has a very important place: in Palestine, each troup forms a small marching band which animates religious and local events. The French, for their part, explained their camp activities and of life close to nature.

The young people of Taybeh also presented their village, which has the distinctive characteristic of being populated only by Christians (it is the only one in this situation throughout the region) and which is under the full force of the emigration movement of Christians from the Middle East. Today, there are almost ten times more people from Taybeh settled in the West than those living in the village itself.

At the end of the weekend, everyone was grateful: for some, the joy of being welcomed, for others, the emotion felt that a window had opened to a world that was too difficult for them to access.

An experience to be renewed to put an end to misconceptions and prejudices on either side of a wall that are obstacles to fraternity.

Cécile Klos

Pictures : SGDF Jerusalem and Terre Sainte Magazine

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