Today I have the great pleasure and honor to gather with a group of Palestinian and Isaeli midwives, mothers, activists, change makers, and visionaries. We are celebrating the 5th birthday of this program, Midwives For Peace. What a tender, tense, and insightful five years it has been!
It took two years to get this group of midwives in a room together due to paperwork, political and legal barriers, and funding. Then, on a sunny spring day in 2007, a bus full of Palestinian midwives traveled from the West Bank to the Galilee. I was there, waiting with the Israeli midwives for their arrival. There were increasingly frustrated calls from the driver of the bus as they had never been to this region before and were lost, and afraid to ask for directions or assistance. The husband of the hosting Israeli midwife got on the phone with the driver and in Arabic, navigated him to the birth center where we were to meet.
The bus drove up the hill, parked, and everyone waited. Inhaling with anticipation, we seemed to each understand how in that moment our lives were changing. Then as we exhaled, the Palestinian women climbed out of their bus, eyes met from opposite sides of a war, and hearts opened. Arms outstretched, the women embraced, smiled, laughed, and it was done. Midwives For Peace was born.
It’s been five years, there have been wars, deaths, births, graduations, weddings, meetings, workshops, abstracts presented, and standing ovations relished. Friendships have forged, work shared, and a future envisioned where these women are seen and experienced by the world as equals, colleagues, and champions of each other.
We gather today in Beit Jala, five years ago this wouldn’t of happened. It couldn’t of happened. These women are indeed changing the world one birth at time, and it is our great honor to bear witness to their courage, vision, and commitment.