Believing in Anera's Work and Leaving a Legacy
It was a chance meeting on a flight from the US to Britain in 1984 that changed Marjorie Anderson’s life and introduced her to the Palestinian community of Gaza and Anera.
During the long flight, Marjorie struck up a conversation with Hattam Abu Ghazala, who ran the Sun Daycare Center in Gaza. She had recently retired after 42 years of teaching and was on her way to a Quakers’ conference in Britain. As they were leaving the plane, Hattam suggested Marjorie should come teach English for a year at his school in Gaza. “He told me he wanted someone mature,” laughs Marjorie. “And, I replied that at age 62 I was certainly mature enough.”
Marjorie spent nearly one year working with teachers and students at Gaza school. Many of the students were deaf or had other disabilities. It was a challenge and she loved every minute of it. “When he made the offer, I thought why not.” Marjorie added. “I didn’t know what I was getting into but it turned out to be one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.”
While she was there, she kept learned that an American non-profit Anera was helping Sun Center and implementing other projects for the benefit of the Palestinian community. And then, when she traveled to the West Bank to attend a Quaker meeting she met Anera’s country director and learned more about the work Anera was doing in Gaza, West Bank, Jordan and Lebanon.
It was during her year in Gaza that a friend surprised her by giving a donation to Anera in her name. And, Marjorie decided she would continue making contributions to Anera. She was always an active volunteer and attended just about every annual dinner meeting since her return from Gaza. Marjorie was honored in 2005 as the representative of Anera’s most active volunteers.
Nearly 30 years later, she continues to donate to Anera and has made sure that Anera is a beneficiary in her will. Why? “Because I believe in Anera so much and the good it does.”
Marjorie was able to return to Gaza in the 1990s to visit with Hattam and the many friends she made during a time there. She may not be as mobile as she was back then but Marjorie’s spirit of adventure and joy of life fill her days.
Though it’s been a while since she taught English, her love of the language is evident in the poems and verses she composes, to the delight of her friends at the Quaker retirement community where she lives now in Pennsylvania. “I’m not a poet. I’m a versifier,” smiles Marjorie.