Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Khaders of Al-Ram

Fadwa and Suheil Khader are the parents of a bright and talented young Palestinian woman, Mai Khader Kakish, living in the Chicago area and a recent addition to the board of the Seraj Library Project. They live in Al-Ram, a village of about 60,000, which lies just outside the wall beyond the Kalandia checkpoint. With an introduction from Mai, Fadwa and Suheil welcomed me warmly Saturday morning and introduced me to their family (now mostly launched) and the remarkable work they do on behalf of their community. Like so many Palestinians we meet, their story is characterized by a courage and steadfastness (sumoud) that inspires.

Suheil is an official with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions and the Deputy Mayor of Al-Ram. Before the wall and checkpoints made travel so difficult on the West Bank, Fadwa and Suheil created a string of 12 kindergartens providing quality care for the young children of working mothers. They are now reduced to 2, one of which Suheil took us to visit near their home. It's a well-equipped facility staffed by six women caring for about 35 young children. Suheil is justifiably proud of the Farah Nursery, but must work continuously to find the resources to keep it open.

Just up the street from the nursery Fadwa is the manager of the Sunflower Association for Human and Environment Protection. With her staff she is lobbying for healthier foods for children (who, like many American children, start their day with fast foods), cleaner air, better waste management services and a greener environment.

The Khaders are the kind of Palestinians few Americans know about. And they are not the exception. We continue to meet so many who are helping build a healthy Palestinian society under the most trying conditions of occupation.

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