Ted and Jane Settle were retired. Then they volunteered for three months from November 2011. It was such a great experience for them that they are returning for nine months from September 2012.

Whether you are 18 or receiving your pension –

there are possibilities for volunteering at Mar Elias Educational Institutions for varying lengths of time.  Every effort is made to match work with the skills and expertise of volunteers.  Volunteers may go out singly or as groups.  Group work is often simple labouring tasks such as summer-time decorating and preparing classrooms before the start of the autumn term. It may be for just two or three days out from a longer pilgrimage or several months.  Accommodation is in the comfortable modern Mar Elias Educational Institutions Guesthouse on the campus with ensuite facilities and air conditioning. Badeer, the cook comes up from the village to prepare meals fresh every day. Samar, the hostess at the guesthouse helps volunteers settle in and will assist with translation although most people around the campus speak very good English as well as many other languages.


Badeer cooking delicious local dishes for guests and volunteers.


Samar preparing for the arrival of the next guests

While the projects are Christian inspired and in ethos, the campus community is Christian and Muslim Arab with some Jews from neighbouring towns coming to teach or study in the schools.  The Christians are Palestinians as well as being Israeli and also Arab in culture and volunteers are expected to learn something of Arab culture before going out and make appropriate adjustments to dress and behaviour while in the community.  Ashray will give guidance on this prior to departure.  This is a small request and compliance will result in acceptance in the Arab society giving volunteers a deeper experience during their visit.

Arab society is very open and welcoming.  All social life revolves around the family and visitors may expect invitations to visit locals in their homes. It is a wonderful chance to meet real, ordinary Palestinians and understand their situation and hopes and dreams for the future.

Be warned, if the experience of previous volunteeers is anything to go by, no matter how much you plan and intend to give in your volunteering, you will come back home having gained much more than you have given.  It can be a most powerful and life changing experience.

While most volunteers go to Mar Elias Educational Institutions in Ibillin, there may be opportunities elsewhere from time to time.

If you think volunteering might be for you contact Audrey Porksen for more information at office.ashray@yahoo.co.uk