Submitted by Lani Brayer, Melbourne Australia
Our journey to Abu Kwedar began with the search for a bridge that was situated just off the main highway. It was dark, therefore the bridge not clearly visible. I immediately thought to myself whether this scene was an allegory for what we were about to witness: the bridge, a link between two worlds and the darkness, a metaphor for what was not completely clear, not yet at least.
We arrived at what was known as the ‘dojo’, the ‘club’, where Karate classes are led by Hazem, a Bedouin instructor. The building’s lights are powered by Hazem’s car battery. Here again was the feeling that we were somehow on the other side of that bridge that was a long way from where we had come. Car battery powered lights aside, we entered a world where race, religion, age or language had no bearing. This was a class where the focus was the discipline of martial arts. Warm –up exercises precede all routines and have no less priority over the routines. This is where the students familiarize themselves with and practice Japanese numbers and movements. Even with the distraction of visiting children on donkeys who came to the open windows to watch the lesson, the students are focussed and unfazed by the disruption. With one stern look from Hazem, they resume their warm- up with the earnestness with which they began.
The lesson continues for an hour where the group is taught new routines and practise old ones. Each child is at a different level, but this has no bearing on their focus or respect for the other students and above all Hazem. For this lesson, they were privileged to have Danny Hakim, CEO of “Budo for Peace” lead them through the routines, and their respect for him was undeniable.
I am pleased to have been given the opportunity to witness something that is not exactly within the realms of the world that I live in. I am an Australian educator visiting Israel for a short while. Prior to my arrival in Israel, I searched and found an organization called ‘Skilled Volunteers for Israel’ and was suitably matched up with Danny Hakim’s not for profit organization “Budo for peace”.
My volunteer work for him has mainly been the translation of documents, however, it was at Danny’s insistence that I visit Abu Kwedar to witness the borderless frontier that Hazem has pioneered. I was not disappointed. I have been informed that the allegorical bridge has been crossed and Hazem and some of his students have competed in international Karate competitions. His focus is not only to teach young Bedouins the art of Karate, but to also educate them, to teach them moral principles of empowerment and self respect, and perhaps one day remove that obscure bridge that connects their world to the one just beyond the turn off.