“I know a lot of people who have lost all hope for peace because they say it’s a conflict that can never be ended. That was the moment I knew I had to do this work…”

  • Ayala – Jewish-Israeli participant, 16 years old

Being the nice and nerdy girl I was, I said “OK!” when I joined K4P in the 6th grade because my parents suggested it. At first I wasn’t too psyched about it—it was nice, but I didn’t think much about it. I mean, what 6th grader says, “Yes! I want to be a peace builder or learn how to solve national problems?!” 

But things changed for me in the 8th grade, when we had a scavenger hunt in the Old City. We had a mission to go to a Christian religious souvenir shop, five youth and one counselor, and we had a list of questions we had to ask the owner. Our last question was: how do you think peace can be achieved in Jerusalem? And his answer changed me forever. 

He said, “I don’t think there can ever be peace. I don’t believe Jews and Arabs can live together side by side in Israel, and I don’t see any solution unless one of these sides disappears, and leaves forever.” We were all shocked. We stood there and we couldn’t even speak. And then he said, “My religion says, there can be no peace in this city.”

 We walked out stunned. We couldn’t argue with religion. We’d been taught over the last three years that faith is great, that faith brings us together, that faith will bring peace. But there stands this person who says they can’t believe in peace because of their faith! 

It led to this long discussion outside his shop. We talked about what to do in these situations, and what we were all feeling. I thought, my, that man must be miserable not believing in the possibility of peace. What if we could change his mind? What if I could change his mind? And I think, looking back, that was the moment I said, I’m staying in Kids4Peace, this is why I’m doing this, this is why I’m committed. I have to, for these people who have lost all hope… it made me so sad. Sad for our country and sad for our city. I know a lot of people who have lost all hope for peace because they say it’s a conflict that can never be ended. That was the moment I knew I had to do this work… it really just impacted me.

The most important thing I have learned in Kids4Peace is how to tell a story. How to tell my story. This is important because everyone has a story, and everyone should be able to communicate their story to the people around them. 

Stories are a very powerful tool—because they make people seem human. And in a place where people are dehumanized everyday, we should be able to tell stories because that is one of the greatest ways humankind communicates and understands each other. If you can’t tell your story, you can’t show who you are. You are you because of the stories that brought you to this day. I can’t tell people I’m in Kids4Peace without the WHY, and that why is a story. And if you don’t know how to tell your story, communicating is much harder.

To read more about Ayala and other youth leaders in Kids4Peace, purchase our book Raising Generation Peace at http://k4p.org/book