“What is special about your family?” I asked David weeks before arriving in Israel with his wife and three daughters.
“Well, my daughter Sienna is a total athlete. She plays football just like your Yossi Benayoun. And my wife, Kim, designs carpets and has them woven in India. They are both very talented.”
They were coming from London and, in light of David’s Yossi Benayoun comment, I suggested he bring some footballs with him.
Our first stop in the south of Israel was a small community called Yeruham. This is the site of Tel Rahma, dating back to the 10th Century BCE. On the outskirts of the city sits an ancient well, Be’er Rahma. Some archaeologists believe it is the well where the biblical character Hagar drew water for her son, Ishmael.
Our visit to Yeruham, however, was driven by a very different purpose. Upon our arrival, Sienna was quite surprised to see us pull up alongside a football field. Waiting for us was the boys and girls football team from the Yeruham Community Center. This team is sponsored by the Real Madrid Football Club through the Peres Center for Peace. All of the players stood there, fully dressed and ready to kick the ball around. Sienna had an opportunity to play with here Israeli peers and even scored a goal!
With Sienna happy from her football adventure, it was time to turn our attention to Kim. Our next stop was to a small Bedouin village outside of Yeruham. There, in a rickety tin shed, we met up with Salima, a handsome 30-year old Bedouin woman and mother of six. Salima is a gifted carpet weaver that spends her time trying to break through traditional boundaries.
“Education is the foundation of any progress”, says Salima as she spools her wool. She is currently working towards completing her high school diploma. For Kim, the London-based carpet designer, and her three daughters, meeting Salima in this desert village was a profound lesson in the strength of these normally hidden women.