The Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network (EPF PIN) announces a new project to support the House of Hope Vision School in the Palestinian West Bank city of al Eizariya. Initial support includes an unrestricted financial gift to be used where the need is greatest. Current priorities include scholarships for students and building a Children’s Choir that will enable music therapy for the school’s students and their communities, as well as help share the school’s vision and mission. EPF PIN and Supporting Hope, the school’s U.S. non-profit partner, hope to build the relationship through ongoing cooperation and support.
The House of Hope School was founded in 2007 by Palestinian peace and justice advocates Manar Wahhab and Milad Vosgueritchian to provide an education that heals for Palestinian children growing up in the trauma of Occupation. Today, about 75 students attend the school. Vosgueritchian described the initial vision for the school, “we dreamt of nurturing children caught in the crosshairs of Occupation and communal poverty. We would empower women left out of the economy and support families struggling under tremendous pressure to cope. We would name our dream House of Hope, a movement for Palestinians and by Palestinians.” Following the Waldorf Education system, the only West Bank facility to do so, the school works for peace and justice by nurturing children with trauma-informed education, teaching the principles of nonviolence and nonviolent resistance, and training trauma-informed Palestinian teachers.
This project was inspired by the vision of long-time EPF PIN member the Rev. Ann Coburn whose daughter, a Waldorf educator, had alerted PIN to House of Hope and prompted a visit by Ann and PIN colleagues to the school in 2019. The project is dedicated to Ann’s legacy of peace and justice advocacy.
According to Wujood (“existence, presence”) the Palestinian guidebook published by the non-profit group Grassroots Jerusalem, Al Eizariya is the Biblical Bethany, the fourth most sacred site for Christians, after Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth as the place where Jesus raised Lazarus (al Uzair). The city of about 30,000 sits just 3 kilometers from central Jerusalem but lies hard up against the separation barrier, so that few residents of al Eizariyah can visit Jerusalem.
Prominent in EPF PIN’s consideration of the project is the rapid further deterioration of basic security for Palestinians in the West Bank, which has been under military occupation since 1967. According to the U.N. Human Rights Office, the situation is “alarming and urgent” because of increasing, multi-layered violations of Palestinian human rights. Since October 7 when Palestinian fighters broke through the blockade of Gaza and killed an estimated 1200 people in Israel, at least 175 Palestinians, including 51 children, have been killed in the West Bank by Israeli forces or settlers. Three Israeli soldiers have been killed. In addition to physical violence, settlers have displaced nearly 1000 Palestinians from their homes and villages since October 7.
The weeks and months ahead threaten to bring even greater challenges to the beleaguered people of the West Bank. EPF PIN is thankful to be able to lend its support to the staff and students of the House of Hope Vision School.