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A Century of Change: Memories and Experiences of Volunteer Work

Jenny Gaiawyn has been involved in non-violent direct action for the past ten years. Since 2001 she has volunteered as a peace worker in both Iraq and Palestine.

‘I've been involved in non-violent direct action in the UK since I was seventeen and I first got involved with that out of sheer frustration about writing letters and going on demonstrations and not getting anywhere.’

‘In 2002 me and this guy travelled across the hills to get into Nablos to join the medical teams and travel in the ambulances. Having an International made a real difference, I was able to negotiate through checkpoints and I saw first-hand how non-violent direct action was working out there. I’m a woman and I’m small, so I’m not offensive or threatening.’

‘I’ve been shot at and I’ve been hit by shrapnel and stuff like that. People do sacrifice a lot mentally for it. The way I deal with it is by talking about it, by giving presentations, by encouraging other people to go out there and also by doing gardening, pottering about in my garden and cycling a lot. When you see horrific things like that you really value the really nice things like going for walks.’

‘You don’t just go blindly into it thinking I’m an International, I’m going to be OK you go. Right, what are the risks and what am I going to achieve? And every situation I’ve gone into I’ve thought about it very hard. I think the people who it is hardest for are our families. You have to stay optimistic. Life is amazing, you know, and every time you do these things you meet people who are truly inspirational.’

Jenny Gaiawyn

Volunteering in a Crisis - Jenny Gaiawyn

The problems of Palestine have a long history, starting from before the First World War. International powers, including Britain, the League of Nations, the United States and the United Nations, have attempted to resolve the political issues associated with this area. This intervention has unfortunately often resulted in further troubles. At the moment arguments over territory continue to cause death and destruction on both Palestinian and Israeli sides.

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