Martha Wilson Carries on Her Parents’ Legacy

Leila Wilson did not hesitate to bequeath money for ANERA in her will. “It is such a great organization that has no peer. There is nothing else like it,” explained her daughter Martha, who herself has actively supported ANERA throughout the years.

Martha Wilson says it was natural for her parents to support a humanitarian organization that puts politics aside to care for people in need.  

She says her commitment to ANERA comes, like her mother, from her love for the Middle East and her respect for the work ANERA does against all odds. “It’s like the little engine that could.”

Martha knows the reality of the communities ANERA serves. During her father’s career in the US diplomatic corps he spent many years in the Middle East. She remembers he was posted to Jerusalem during the 1967 war. Her mother refused to be evacuated with the other diplomats’ wives and stayed with him during the conflict despite the danger.

Donor Martha Wilson's mother Leila named ANERA in her will to help carry on its great work with Palestinians.

Donor Martha Wilson’s mother Leila named ANERA in her will to help carry on its great work with Palestinians.

“My parents were posted to the Middle East while I was at college and I came to love the region through their stories and my own visits.” Martha remembers the romance of exploring the wondrous archaeological sites like Petra in Jordan but she also knows the harsh realities that conflict has brought upon Palestinian refugees in the region.

Caring for Palestinian communities, she says, was always part of her mother’s Middle East experiences. “I remember she was involved with women’s groups working with young Arab women on embroidery projects.”

Her parents’ service to the Middle East did not end with Evan Wilson’s retirement in 1968. Soon after, he joined forces with several other former US diplomats and established ANERA to care for Palestinian refugees affected by the Six Day War. He served on the AENRA board during the early years.

“ANERA was a part of my growing up,” Martha remembers. It was natural, she says, for her parents to support a humanitarian organization that puts politics aside to care for people in need. Martha has pledged to follow her mother’s example and leave her own bequest for ANERA to help carry out its mission.