My name is Maryam Hammad and I’m a Palestinian from Jerusalem. I was a participant in Kizuna summer camp 2017. I’m happy to share that I created and found bonds with nature and great ongoing friendships with all the participants in the program. And it was very nice to see the girls from the previous EcoPeace camps.
The KIZUNA Project aims to provide an opportunity for Israeli, Palestinian and Japanese youths to experience the “SATOYAMA” (a mountain village area in Japan) as a way of life. Kizuna means “bond”, so by living and learning about this model of positive relationships between people and nature and people and people they can return home and aspire to be future leaders in their communities that can work towards a sustainable society. With various activities in a nature-rich mountain village where people have been succeeding their own traditions and cultures through generations, participants learn about sustainability in order to take action in their own community after the camp. Participants are expected to establish relationships with each other, based on the knowledge of the Satoyama, as youths living in the same world and establish a human network for the future.
I have always wanted to make a change in my community and be a great leader of tomorrow. As they say “the change starts from you,” so I want to say a massive thank you to PFJ, because the program opened my eyes to the amazing, and unforgettable healthy ways of living. I’m proud to say that now I can live this way because I experienced it. Starting from being thankful and having appreciation for everything on earth. Also knowing the importance of culture and the concept of a sustainable society. All of these things will always stay in my mind and it will help me change myself and make changes in my community. The program means many things to me because it opened up my perspective on different issues in my personal life and it gave me a feeling of inner peace with participants in every activity. I have incredible memories.
I remember one of the nights that we were having a long night chat. We talked about ourselves, sharing funny as well as serious moments. We were all in a circle but I didn’t feel we were all a circle of normal girls having a night talk. That night by sharing similar thoughts, funny stories, as well as serious conversations, we felt very close. I felt like I found my twin versions from different worlds.
I can proudly say that I found positive growth in myself and acquired more knowledge than I could have imagined. In the end I want to say that change is possible and it all starts from you.
Written by: Maryam Hammad, Palestinian participant in the Kizuna Japan camp.