The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) is an initiative of the World Council of Churches (WCC). It was established to provide a protective presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (except in Gaza) and to contribute Checkpoint data and other information to research done by organisations, particularly the United Nations, in order to regularly update publications on the situation in the Middle East.
An Ecumenical Accompanier (or an EA – as we are also called) provides a protective presence at Checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank and also at schools. At various demonstrations, EAs stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and with all those who are working towards ending the Occupation of the Palestinian Territory and striving towards a just and lasting peace in Palestine and Israel. At the regular Friday ‘Women in Black’ Demonstrations, EAs are allowed to silently participate by holding a poster, which simply states: “Stop the Occupation”. All other demonstrations are monitored but our aim is to stay safe.
The photo depicts an EA in the official EAPPI vest. On the back of the vest, as seen in the photo posted on the blog separately, the EAPPI logo and the name, in large letters, immediately identifies the EA. (We are well known in many areas.) On the front of the vest, there is a small logo on the left shoulder and several pockets – seven to be exact. (See www.eappi.org for more information about this WCC Programme.)
What does an EA carry in these seven pockets of the vest?
The security checks are regular – both specific and random – nobody may be without their identification papers at any time in case they are stopped and asked to produce these – the military police has absolute power, especially at checkpoints.
- Cell phone
We stay in regular contact with one another, the Jerusalem EAPPI Office and with our local contacts, who inform us of any events where our presence is required. An EA’s phone is always on and always charged.
- EAPPI office and group 45 phone list
We keep the latest phone list in our pockets, in case of an emergency or when we have to pass on urgent information.
As EAs we have to find our own way around very quickly and good maps are, therefore, essential to help us familiarise ourselves with our areas.
EAs tell the stories of the people in this land. Photos and video clips often tell a story very much better than words can. EAs are careful not to violate rules and regulations but, at times, we endeavour to take photographs of injustices as they are taking place in order to assist with evidence in any court cases that might arise.
Apart from the obvious reasons that any EA would need money for (transport, food, etc.) we carry enough money on us in case of an emergency. We need to be able to cover the emergency costs at a clinic or at a hospital. EAs, therefore, carry at least NIS 300 with them at all times.
- Transport log book
EAs are given a travel allowance and we need to keep a record of every trip we go on for the purposes of EAPPI. On our days off, we are given a flat rate of NIS 30 towards our travel costs for the 3 days. What an EA does not use out of the travel allowance is paid back to EAPPI at the end of the term.
Although we are now entering the autumnal season, we are still in the desert and the days are still very hot. Water is an essential item wherever we go. Some EAs carry a 2 litre bottle of water with them but I have a small one that fits into one of my pockets and when passing a water fountain, I top it up.
- Business Cards
All EAs are provided with business cards. We are encouraged to make contact with as many people and organisations as possible. These cards are especially valuable during our church visits – we need the churches to know about the EAPPI Programme and that they can count on our support.
- EAPPI information leaflets in Arabic
Many people will stop and talk to an EA. They are often curious about what we are doing and so to have leaflets in Arabic (especially as most of us do not speak it) is a very helpful tool.
We live in an EAPPI house, which is called a Placement Home, and each EA has a set of keys to the house. EAs often have appointments at different times and all need to have access to their homes for these three months. We also carry our suitcase keys with us, especially if we lock away any valuables.
No EA can go anywhere without a notebook. There is so much to learn and, very often, the names of people and organisations are not easy to remember (or to spell). Noting information down is essential in order to follow up on it later. We can also write down appointments and reminders to ourselves.
A pen is an essential tool and all EAs carry at least one with them at all times.
EAs are often out for many hours and a supply of tissues in one’s pocket is essential if or when the need arises to use a public toilet – that is apart from their usual use!
- Sun-block stick and Lip-Ice
The sun is hot and at some demonstrations there is no shade. Being prepared is better than getting sunburnt.
- Scarf (for women)
At most places female internationals (EAs) are welcome without their heads being covered. However, when entering a mosque a woman will cover her head.
A fabric sun-hat is a valuable item to have in one’s pocket. EAs walk long distances – often in the middle of the day.
- Chewing gum
Not everyone likes to chew gum but when one is hot and there is not much water available, chewing gum can relieve one’s thirst for a while.
- Head-ache tablets
These are optional but it might prove to be a good idea to squeeze some into a corner of one of the pockets of the vest.
- Small gifts
EAs meet people all the time and visiting a Palestinian home might come as a surprise. It is good not to be caught unprepared – I carry small beaded bracelets in one of my pockets and it has been wonderful to have them with me to give to the hosts in response to the gracious hospitality that has been extended to me.