Footsteps of a Mother -- One Woman's Journey to Bring Peace to the Holy Land

I'm often asked what drives my work in the Middle East.

When I mobilized funding and efforts to remove the landmines from areas surrounding Bethlehem garnering the support of the Israeli and Palestinian governments, they asked me what motivated me to even attempt something that we've all been told is a virtual impossibility.

When together -- in an inter-faith effort of support from Jews, Muslims and Christians -- we removed the scourge of landmines and replanted vineyards, they asked what gave me the courage to try to bring together three faiths that have spent thousands of years fighting against one another.

They ask if it's because I feel saddened by all the war in the world, if I feel a moral obligation or if it's because I believe in the "impossible" idea of World Peace.


And though at times I am saddened, I do feel a moral obligation and I do believe in a world without conflict as John F. Kennedy envisioned, these things do not best explain the main reason why I do what I do.

I do it because I am a mother.


I do not think the issues we grapple with are simple or can be solved with a handshake or a hug, but I do believe that no mother, father, uncle, aunt or friend can allow those disagreements to get in the way of making sure that the earth our children walk on is free of explosives.

Which is why last Friday, I joined with members of the Vatican and the Israeli and Palestinian governments for a walk in the Holy Land through fields that have recently been liberated from the contaminants of war in an effort to leverage critical awareness about the acres of land that still need to be demined and fulfill my promise to demine these sacred sites of The Holy Land.

My plan is to forge an interfaith partnership that will lead to a healing of the wounds of war and to planting the Roots of Peace and help to bring a lasting peace in the region.

I know the skepticism that surrounds such a goal; I know that people may say that my model for peace will not work -- which is when I remind them that it already has.

In Afghanistan, Roots of Peace has removed hundreds of thousands of landmines and helped thousands of farmers and families within the country double and triple their income.


Our projects and successes there began in in a similar way. After the September 11th attacks in 2001, we decided to show our support for the Muslim community by going to our local Afghan restaurant. After meeting the owners, we decided to hold a fundraiser that raised $3000 dollars for our initial Afghanistan project.

Our commitment has since increased since then to where we now train over 50,000 farmers in the country, have planted over four million trees, and have sustained agricultural development projects that have tripled the income of thousands of Afghan farmers and their families.

So this walk may seem small; it likely won't change the face of the issue overnight, but seeds don't produce fruit the moment you put them in the ground. It is only after hours and hours of painstaking effort and patience that you will see something begin to grow.

Our dinner in the Afghan restaurant was small, simple, some would even have called it insignificant at the time, but where there was a small, simple and seemingly insignificant seed of hope, there is now a tree supplying peace and prosperity to thousands.

The cynics will say as always that it will not work, that the problems of the Middle East are too complex and too much damage has occurred..

But on Friday a seed was planted, and with our help, it will grow.

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