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YWCA of JAPAN TOP > NEWS January 28, 2011
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1.24 “ Remember GAZA” Open Meeting in the Japanese House of Councillors (January 28, 2011)

Two years has passed since the Gaza attack by the Israeli military. On January 24th, 2011, YWCA of Japan and 9 partner NGOs and civil organizations organized an open meeting with a guest from Gaza, members of the Japanese Diet and Foreign Affairs. YWCA of Japan continues to call the international community actions for Gaza’s immediate recovery and peace in the region.


“Israeli settlements”, “Hamas”, “the U.S. negotiation”… We repeatedly see and hear these words on daily news. We hardly hear a real voice of individuals from such reports, and this repetitive information often make us feel that it is only one of another world’s story and turn away from the issue.

This Open Meeting with a guest from Gaza, Mr. Ahmed Sourani of Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) provided us a place to open up our eyes, years, mind, and to think what the issue really is.

Mr. Sourani shared with us a recent report on Gaza based on his profession, particularly from perspectives of agriculture and sustainable development, and development with justice and human rights.

The struggle in the region has been over 60 years, and it was strengthened by Israeli’s siege of Gaza in 2007 and its massive attack in 2008. It was not only the land that was destroyed by the long-time Israeli control but also the people of Gaza whose confidence, self-respect, and human rights were taken away by that.

In such circumstance, PARK got a good idea from a poor local farmer and started a project called “From Poor Farmers to Poor Families”. The project is very simple and effective: poor farmers cultivate the destroyed land and grow veggies, and sell them to poor local families.

Gaza has been in siege and under complete control of Israel that there is no way for Palestinians to import-export goods or even no freedom of movement and access to land and water. In this situation, the PARK’s project provides poor farmers a job, poor families food at low price, and even contributes to the environment to be better. PARK also focuses on income generating project for women. Many women under conflict situation may lose their male family members and left alone or left with a big families on her thin shoulders. Income generating project for women not only helps them but their family as a whole. These women come to PARK project started a resource sharing system which is to collect a small amount of money from each individual and loan to one another. Furthermore, the Seed Bank project, which is to collect and preserve seeds of plants for sustainable farming, has been successful and those once left their land are gradually returning their home.

These series of economical and environmental projects based on sustainability and human rights certainly encourage people to be independent/free from aid by international community which is useful for emergency but only makes local people slave if it is used for a long time.

What Mr. Sourani emphasizes is a “development with justice based on human rights”. Palestinians have will, passion, and skills to develop their life and community by themselves, and are eager to learn new skills and ideas from international communities as partners rather than as supporters.

As it is mentioned in the first paragraph, Israel, the U.S. or Hamas seem to have been key players in the region on media but that is not true. Farmers work there, women live there, children play there, and plants and animals also are there. What we are asked now as member of international community is actively participate in the issue of the region and give different perspectives and ideas to draw solutions which promises individual’s life first and are based on justice and human rights.

Tomoko Negishi, YWCA of Japan International Affairs
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