Palestinian Refugees from a geopolitical novice: Dipping a toe in the water



Hi I’m Jan Shegda, board member over at Beirut and Beyond. It’s my turn to write a blog over here, so I have a few thoughts to share with you. 

You may have seen this week that the US cut all aid to UNRWA, the organization providing education and resources to Palestinians in the camps. Without commenting on whether this was the right thing for the US to do, it leaves an already marginalized and resource-poor population in an even more desperate situation. 

I think it is easy to get paralyzed by the size of the need, and by the discomfort that comes with acknowledging the pain of others. It may even bring up feelings of guilt and shame, for not doing more, not knowing more, not giving more.  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have an indepth understanding of the situation. I don’t consume a large amount of news; I find that I internalize the material in a way that negatively affects my mental state. I’m sure a few of you can relate  But as I’ve learned more about the world the Palestinian refugees live in, I’ve learned this- there is value in dipping a toe in the water. I don’t have to “do this right”, or find an ideal way to join the struggle. I don’t even have to make a clear decision on who is right in the conflict, and who is wrong, and where and why. I don’t even have to be an expert on the subject, as if I even could be from 1000s of miles away. I can start just from compassion, and the willingness to open my eyes and hear the stories of those who are living in the camp. From there, another small step will come.

For me, this means being willing to hear another point of view. Being willing to put myself in someone else’s shoes, living in one of these camps. It is difficult to imagine the pain and suffering, the squalor, and the reckless hope it must require to carry on. For me the learning started when I attended a Palestinian Learning Party with Beirut and Beyond, which gave me an intro into what is happening and a place to join the conversation. It continues as I meet others who care about this situation, or who have lived it themselves. I can give my time and resources where I can, so that those who are deeply committed to this work can carry it forward. I might be ankle deep now, but I can take things slowly, learn about myself and others, and make a small difference. Come on in, the water’s fine. 

Here are a few ways to learn more: 

-Take a look at our resource page for videos, book recommendations, and films about Palestinian narrative.

-This fall, our executive director, Suzann, returns to Denver from the Middle East. We will be having dinner parties with a few other board members to learn and talk about the current situation on the ground for Palestinian refugees over food. Stay tuned to our website and social media for dates and locations. 

-Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. See the work we are doing with Palestinian refugees in refugee camps in the Middle East.  

-Listen to Palestinian refugees sharing their stories! 


Jan Shegda of Los Angeles, CA is new to awareness about the situation of Palestinians worldwide and is pleased to support Beirut and Beyond’s efforts in her role as administrative coordinator. The founder of Clarity Coaching in 2009, Jan is a career specialist, speaker, and executive coach. She specializes in using the Gallup StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, and MBTI systems for personal and organizational growth. She is also the founding president of International Enneagram Association- Colorado Chapter and currently serves with the global board of directors for the International Enneagram Association.


Suzann MollnerComment