spotlight on a place – Laqiya / Naa’ma El Saneh

Our Grandparents lived in the area before the establishment of the State of Israel. In 1995 the state approved a plan for a Beduin village, and building began in  year 2000. 14,000 people from four tribes live in the village, each tribe on its own land.

Laqiya has a high percentage of academic professionals– doctors, lawyers, school principals, teachers and other free professions. Some of them work in the village but most are employed in the area.

Journey to Peace visit to Laqiya, 2017

We have a few women organizations: Desert Embroidery (רקמת המדבר), Sidra Negev Weavers (סידרה אריגת המדבר), and Huria Castle (ארמון חוריה) – hospitality. All these sites hosted the WWP’s Peace Journey last year.

I am in charge of the Association for the Improvement of Women Status, which we established in 1986. The initial goal was teaching women to read and write. Our current goals include women education, employment and empowerment. 80% of participating women are young, and take part in the Young Leadership Project.

I joined Women Wage Peace after attending a screening of the movie about the Liberian women,  organized by Pnina Dobo from Lahav. Following the screening I joined the movement, together with other women. We also joined the final day of the March of Hope, near the Dead Sea, and were happy to get together with thousands of other Israeli and Palestinian women.

A year later we heard from Pnina and Ghadir Hani that a Journey for Peace will take place partly in the Negev. We started planning the passage of the Journey in our village. My sister, who is a school principal, organized the students to write notes with their thoughts about Peace, and to welcome Women Wage Peace by Laqiya Well, where we held a ceremony, during which the children read the notes they wrote and flew balloons. We then moved to the Embroidery Visitor Center, to Huria Castle and to Sidra Negev Weavers. Our women spoke about the projects, and it was an amazing, successful day. Of course, we also joined the event at Hagar and Sara tent near the Dead Sea, as well as the big march and mass assembly in Jerusalem. Again, we saw how important it is to get to know each other, to think about a future of living together in this country, and to bring peace.

During the past year we joined the Knesset visits twice. Following the Jewish Nation Law, a friend said to me: “No matter how much you do and try to make an impact, look what the government is doing!” But I believe that gradually we will make an impact. One must dream and look forward. Equality for all residents is my dream.

I really appreciate the movement’s activity towards bringing together various groups. I believe we should continue our educational activity: Working together in schools, thinking about more shared activities, developing awareness. One such beautiful activity was initiated between Laqiya children and children from the Noar Oved Ve’Lomed Youth movement in Meitar. In the mixed groups, the children drew on pieces of fabric for the WWP Pieces for Peace project, because together we will weave peace. This is the way to achieve peace and quiet in Israel. We are all human beings and we can live together.

I keep in touch with Pnina and Ghadir, who try to help in initiating WWP activities in the South. I wish WWP could come to our village once a year, like they did last autumn, and help us develop awareness, have more women and young girls join, and talk to our youth. We need the movement’s help in order for it to grow in our settlements. There is a lot to be done in our villages and in the Negev in general, in order to build a big network between the various settlements. Right now we are neighbors who do not know each other and do not talk to each other. As residents of the Negev we must think what we can do together, because together a lot can be achieved.

translated by Vered  Eyal-Saldinger