Continued reflections on session #4 with Leo

Today, during a meeting in the French Hill kicking off a new project in Issawiya, I found myself explaining a mentality of scarcity to my partners: Let's start by assuming we can work for free. If we raise funds, we can pay our team and finance fun trips for our kids. My friend protested: No, we will need funds to buy supplies, pay our partners and translators, and to take our kids to the beach. We cannot do this solely out of our own pockets.

I saw my own fear of and impatience with the fundraising process. Fear of not being good enough, impatience that this process will impede the actual work of bringing healing and education to traumatized young people. And yet the alternative, asking our partners to operate on an unpaid volunteer basis, limits the scope and sustainability of this project.

Playing small may jumpstart our project, but it sacrifices the opportunity to build long-term infrastructure for mental and emotional well-being in Issawiya. We cannot carry the burden of youth imprisonment alone. We must think big in Issawiya, and to do this requires partnership.  

I have adopted a mindset of scarcity here in Jerusalem. At cafes, I will deliberately order the cheapest entree; at the grocery store, I will limit my fruit and vegetable selections. I ration my leftovers and ask for discounts with many of the services I purchase.

There is fear motivating this mindset: fear that I will lose my contract at Carefree, fear that I will soon be cast from Israel, forced to return to my parents' house. Despite my talent as an engineer and consultant, I operate with little trust in my own ability. I barely register that I have an investment account that's appreciated exponentially since I opened it, with plenty of money for peace of mind.

I am not in a fight for survival. Yes, some friends in the West Bank can barely feed their families, rarely eat out, scrimp and save. But I am not them and I do not need to carry guilt for what I can afford.

I have enough money to order shakshuka at Bezalel Cafe, to buy an abundance of fruits and vegetables, even to purchase a party dress or plane flight home once in a while. I do not have to operate from a place of scarcity, for I have enough now and I will always be capable of creating enough.

I must step outside of the shadow of scarcity and into a full recognition of my own power.