New Friends in NorwayTuesday 7 October 2014
A new association of friends of Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom is being established in Stavenger Norway by a group of people with an active interest in our region.
The background to this occasion is the growing interest of a well-known Stavenger educator, Mr. Ivar Walde, after many years of visiting the village. Every year, Mr. Walde, through the WAS-NS visit program, would bring a group of students. Long-term WAS-NS resident Daoud Boulos consistently led these visits and slowly an acquaintance was formed.
Mr. Walde is responsible for programs on the Middle East that are in the curriculum of four elite schools in the area of Stavenger. The programs introduce the students to Middle East geo-politics, culture and language. About 6,000 students contribute yearly towards the welfare of Aida Refugee Camp (Palestine) and Shatila Refugee Camp (Lebanon).
The program comprises annual visits to the Middle East. The students spend about one week in the two refugee camps and visit many other places - meeting with camp residents, Israeli settlers and others. As a part of this program, they also visit Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom.
On the most recent visit, Daoud spoke to Mr. Walde about the possibility of establishing an association of friends of Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom in Norway. He said he was amenable to the idea, but that this would require proper groundwork and a visit by a member of the Village to meet with local people in Stavenger.
For this purpose, Mr. Walde gave a personal invitation to Daoud, inviting him to come and stay in his family home. Meanwhile, he organized a complete program including visits to schools, universities, churches, municipal buildings, NGOs and funding foundations.
The visit took place over 10 days in September. Daoud traveled with Mr. Walde to meet with school administrators, members of parents committees, city officials, ministers, heads of NGOs, board members of foundations and others. At these meetings, possible partnership with WAS-NS through the establishment of a friends association was discussed and promoted. Many of the persons met said they would love to help and to be involved in such a friends association.
There were also opportunities to speak and give interviews for the news media, including Norway’s National Radio, TV and a Stavenger newspaper (the interview is in English).
Daoud reports that the visit was very successful. Since the visit, Ivar Walde and others are actively engaged in establishing a new friends association as promised. We look forward with eager anticipation to strengthen our contacts with a country that has for so long shown exceptional interest in the Middle East, using its enormous financial, diplomatic and other resources to promote a peaceful solution to the conflict in our region.
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