On This Land | على هذه الأرض
We have on this land that which makes life worth living
We have on this land all of that which makes life worth living
The opening lines of famed Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish’s poem are an apt reminder that we are all responsible for preserving and protecting the lands we call home. Refugees have a keener appreciation than most for the connection we all feel to our homelands. Palestinian communities all over the world preserve a rootedness in the land of Palestine.
The lands of the Levant have been treasured by cultures for thousands of years of recorded history. For many people around the world, these are sacred lands. The many significant religious sites are only some of the treasures in this region. From the ancient stone terraces and olive trees of Palestine, to the famous cedar forests of Lebanon, these lands are part of our world heritage. Societies here have been relying on this land for sustenance and livelihood for countless generations.
As we take advantage of the natural resources around us, we must ensure that all development is sustainable development. Anera’s #OnThisLand theme for 2020 celebrates the lands we work in, in Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan, and commits us to ensuring that all of our work is done in ways that treasure and sustain the environment through sustainable farming and energy generation, and water and waste management.
In Palestine, Anera has been promoting the responsible management of natural resources through our wastewater reuse programs, in Jenin for the last decade, and now in Ramallah. Working with local municipalities across Palestine, we are improving water networks to dramatically reduce water loss, channel destructive stormwaters and collect rainwater for irrigation. In Gaza, we are installing water desalination equipment and providing much-needed public access to fresh water.
Over the years, we have assisted agricultural cooperatives in Palestine, helping them to make sustainable use of the environment while remaining stewards of the land they live on.
In Lebanon, Anera’s solid waste management program has engaged and educated rural communities in the Bekaa to make them active partners, participating in sorting their trash, recycling and composting and keeping waste bound for landfills to a minimum. At the same time, we are building the facilities to process recyclables and compost, ensuring that it no longer goes to landfills or, worse, is burned in open pits or left to pollute the environment.
In both Lebanon and Palestine, Anera is incorporating solar energy panels to support and sustain health clinics, preschools and waste processing facilities.
Anera is committed to preserving the environment for future generations, just as it has for decades, since its inception. In Lebanon, Anera supported farmers in the south who suffered from the war in 2006. We planted thousands of productive fruit trees that generated an income for families while rejuvenating the natural environment. In Palestine, Anera has encouraged small-scale farming initiatives by providing technical support and sustainable infrastructure development. These green initiatives are a means of survival for so many families in the Middle East who rely on the generous land when the political landscape is barren. Some of the families we help do not have much more than the ground beneath their feet and the air around them. Anera continues its work with local communities to give them the tools to gain a little more independence.
As Darwish’s final line reads, “I have all of that which makes life worth living.” As we honor the sentiment of Darwish’s words, we dedicate ourselves to ensuring that every individual in the communities where we work have all that makes life worth living. Join us in this endeavor and share with your communities using our theme #OnThisLand.
The talented spoken word artist and friend of Anera, Omar Offendum, who MC’ed our 2018 Annual Dinner, has a beautiful rendition of the poem. It is worth watching to fully appreciate the power of Darwish’s words.
Even after this war is over, the decimation of life and infrastructure in Gaza will take many years to overcome.
The miraculous work Anera’s team in Gaza is carrying out every day is fueled by the tremendous outpouring of solidarity and backing by our community.