House of Hope is more than just a school in the West Bank. It is a way of life. Our young students are traumatized by war and the suffering that surrounds it.
Although their circumstances are unique, Palestinian children are not alone in their pain. Humanity is in crisis.
Houses of worship, such as synagogues, churches, and mosques, are targeted by white supremacists. Abrahamic values like reconciliation and tolerance are straining under the weight of nationalism, extremism, and white supremacy. The possibility of peace for all seems dead.
But peace is the true nature of the soul, and you can’t kill the soul. You just have to work harder to nurture it.
The first step towards nurturing the soul and embracing the House of Hope way of life is building connection and a sense of belonging with others.
Hate, antagonism, and prejudice are diseases that grow in darkness, in isolation.
House of Hope believes that peace is not an impossible mission to achieve. We believe peace starts by creating excellent schools that are an oasis of loving human connection where our kids can feel secure. Where their family and teachers are supported to slow down and ask: “What is going on in this child’s internal world? How do they feel, and what are their needs?”
These may seem like obvious questions to guide daily life and parenting. But I can assure you that they quickly diminished in importance next to questions like “How will I feed my children?” and “Is there gunfire outside my home again?” For communities living in crisis zones, emotional wellbeing is not the first priority: physical survival is.
House of Hope is working hard in spite of a very difficult situation to make sure these questions about our students’ internal life get asked and answered.
Few other schools in the West Bank are equipped to prioritize nurturing wholeness and human connection. Many seek important academic goals by overlooking children’s emotional health: their fears, traumas, anxieties, and challenges. They mistakenly require students to push their hearts into their subconscious.
This is devastating for Palestinian children, who, like kids from any war zone, suppress their sensory systems when they are scared. And when the sensory system is shut down, so is their capacity for feeling secure in connection with other humans.
The invasion of technology exacerbates the problems caused by trauma and toxic stress. Children experiencing toxic stress often appear emotionally shut down. Introduce smartphones, tablets and play stations, and other things that minimize socialism and increase individualism, and anger and stress increase.
Whether a child grows up under a cloud of stress in Al Eizariya, Palestine, or feeling isolated inside an affluent American suburb, all of our young people can suffer from separation.
At House of Hope, we put our energy into creating a holistic, healing community. A refuge from the storm where isolation cannot take root inside our children. At House of Hope, everyone belongs as we walk the journey of life together.
Salaam, peace, shalom,
Milad Vosgueritchian, Co-founder and Chairman, House of Hope