YWCA project gives wings to push for peace in Middle East

A gathering Wednesday evening aims to fold 1,000 paper cranes to send to a YWCA chapter in East Jerusalem.

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WALLA WALLA -- A flock of birds will take shape here Wednesday evening and carry wishes of peace to the Middle East.

From 7-9 p.m., the YWCA of Walla Walla is organizing the making of peace cranes in the reception room of YWCA, 213 S. First Ave. The goal is to try to fold 1,000 paper cranes that will be sent to the YWCA of Palestine, in East Jerusalem.

"According to the story, if you make one thousand cranes good luck, fortune and peace will transpire," said Anne-Marie Schwerin, executive director of YWCA.

"This year we decided to have this goal, and send all the cranes to a place in a war torn area that needs the wish for peace. We chose our sister YWCA in Palestine and want to let them know we are thinking of them and we care for them and the programs they are organizing. The women in (the Palestinian territories) definitely need support and they need peace."

One of the programs the YWCA of Palestine is doing, together with East Jerusalem YMCA, is the "Olive Picking Program" that is promoting international solidarity with Palestinian farmers who can't reach their olive farms because of the Israeli occupation. The objective of the program is to organize as many international volunteers as possible to help with the olive harvest in areas of conflict.

"The YWCA of Palestine is sponsoring as well a number of job training classes for girls and women so that they can support their families," Schwerin said. "Each YWCA is autonomous and responsible for its own funding. That's why raising awareness for their projects would be helpful."

"On Wednesday, we're going to have several people there to help teach everyone how to make the paper cranes. I'm not very good with paper crafts, and it took me a while, but once I learned, I made 10 for two hours. So if we had 30 people, and each made 10, this is 3,000. It would be wonderful if we had more people, so we could not only send peace cranes to (the Palestinian territories), but to Jerusalem and Cameroon, that are two other places in the world that need peace and we think of," said Schwerin.

"We hope to display the cranes for a bit here in Walla Walla so that we can raise more awareness for our wishes for peace in Palestine, and then we aim to have them sent by the 1st of the year," Schwerin said.

In the beginning of the evening, as people are getting started, they will be able to hear the story of "Sadako and the thousand paper cranes" read out loud. According to the account, Sadako was a girl who lived in Hiroshima during the atomic bombing and developed leukemia from the radiation.

She spent the rest of her life in a nursing home, folding paper cranes with the hope that she would be able to make 1,000 that would allow her to make a wish that would come true.

Since it was published in 1977, her story has become a symbol of hope and a reminder for universal peace.

Everybody is welcome to join the folding Wednesday and help a wish for hope and peace come true.

Dena Popova can be reached at denapopova@wwub.com.

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