The Olive Harvest Trust, a Charitable Incorporated Trust, has grown out of close involvement with two neighbouring villages, Madama and Burin, in the occupied Palestinian territories, or West Bank. These villages lie southwest of Nablus straddling Areas B and C which are under Israeli military rule. This means any community development is severely restricted and, at times, blocked.
The villages are particularly vulnerable due to being sandwiched between the hilltop settlements of Bracha, Sneh Yaakov and Yitzhar, bringing repeated attacks from ideological settlers intent on taking over Palestinian land. Loss of farm land, destruction of olive trees, theft, injuries and even death are the results.
The Harvest & Protective Presence Since 2004, an evolving group of mainly British volunteers has been helping farmers in this area during their annual olive harvest. We work in conjunction with Zaytoun, a UK company that distributes Palestinian olive oil and other produce. Our initial group of 8 people in 2004 now numbers 20 – 30 providing a protective presence in the olive groves and showing solidarity to the villagers. Ages range from early 20s to mid 70s. We spend two weeks every October living in basic accommodation while working with local farmers and their families; this support now extends to two other villages nearby.
Giving back We are always overwhelmed by the warmth and hospitality of the Palestinians, despite their having so little and living under constant duress. This charitable trust is a way of showing our thanks and our belief in their right to a future.
Risks We do this knowing that there are inherent risks – our efforts to help the Palestinians may be frustrated by the aggressive nature of the occupation. That is the reality. As a result we try to make balanced judgements and, before allocation of grants, assess each project according to its merits and risks.
Voluntary All input into The Olive Harvest Trust is completely voluntary; no one involved receives any financial support whatsoever, and all participation in the West Bank is self-financed. This ensures that 95 per cent of donations go directly to the projects we undertake with the schools.
Bearing all this in mind, we hope you will contribute to the future of Palestine’s next generation.