The siege and blockade of Gaza has cut off its residents from the outside world for more than five years.

So when a call went out asking AFSC staff to send messages of solidarity to colleagues and participants in the Palestine Youth Program, many jumped at the chance. Among them were students at Lincoln High School and staff from the Los Angeles Peace Education Program.

Along with a photo of the new mural at their Peace Garden, the Los Angeles staff and students sent a message that read, in part:

[We] have taken inspiration from the work in Gaza. In fact we have borrowed many ideas on how to develop civic engagement projects from the public achievement curriculum that you use in Gaza…Thank you for the wonderful work that you do!

“The mural in Los Angeles—and all the messages—really touched the staff and youth in Palestine,” said Peter Lems, AFSC’s program director for Iraq and Afghanistan. He compiled all the messages into a document titled, “Greetings and good wishes to our Gaza colleagues,” which he delivered during a recent visit to the region.

“Everyone asked what Americans know about Gaza and the young people who live there,” Peter said. “The messages of solidarity stimulated conversations about next steps and the hope of young people in Gaza to connect with others in the U.S. and around the world.”