Local Quaker and IT manager Maria Huff was welcomed back by Banbury Quakers after three months in Israel and Palestine, with a surprise shared meal after Sunday’s Meeting for Worship.
As part of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), Maria spent time with local Palestinians as they went about their day-to-day lives, walking with school children on their way home from school and spending time with farmers harvesting, and with shepherds in remote villages.
EAPPI teams go to places where an international presence will help keep situations calmer, and give people reassurance that their struggles are seen and the real situation reported.
Elder of the Banbury Meeting, George Mason, said: “We are all delighted that Maria has returned from her difficult and challenging three-month task of monitoring the relationships between the Palestinians and Israelis in the occupied territories of Palestine.
“It is a great relief to us that she has returned safe and well. We look forward to hearing her stories.”
Maria said: “I’ve grown-up hearing about Israel and Palestine in the news, as somewhere far away and complicated. I was amazed to be there for myself, meeting people from both Israel and Palestine, making time to talk and explain things to me.
“I was very grateful to meet Palestinians and Israelis working for human rights and supporting them in their hope for a more just and peaceful future.”
Maria hopes to give talks in Banbury in the autumn about the events and places she has witnessed. Any groups who want to invite Maria to speak can email her at email@example.com