When I married a retired hydrologist, I had no idea how our travels to the Middle East would change my perspective. Initially interested in the fine crafts of the area, I was led to Leila Wahbeh. The day I met her was the day my life changed forever.
Her story unfolds with her family’s flight from Jerusalem to Egypt in 1947 to avoid the terrors of the war with Israel, and their return four years later to find they had lost everything. Despite suffering terrible hardships and deprivations, Leila finishes school and marries a doctor. All goes well until the 1967 War. Her husband, because he renders aid to war victims, is deported, leaving Leila and their four children in Jerusalem as pawns for his good behavior and hers. Despite the probability of her own imprisonment, with circumstances weighed against her, she continues her crusade for the poor.
Leila moves mountains of red tape in her efforts to transform the helpless into the helpful. In Committee of One, you’ll meet, as I did during our stays, some of the people whose dignity and pride she has single-handedly restored: Um Rafila, born in a cave as her mother fled her village in 1948; Um X who can't read or write but whose ten children will graduate from college; Um Ghassan, whose piecework provides the medical care needed by her dying pre-school daughter; and Mustafa, a young engineer, who is jailed for preventing renewed garbage dumping at the first cleared site for Leila’s new sanitation center in Baqa’a Camp. With unflagging energy and donations of money and materials, Leila helps her people to become self-sufficient. One family survives, then 100. As those 100 educated families reach out to hundreds more, thousands of families cross the bridges built by a Committee of One.
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I want you to know I have been strongly touched by the story of Leila Wahbeh - and you - and the Palestinian refugees. Your writing touches my head and my heart - there is so much to the story that I haven't known . . . . My understanding and my caring are growing because of the story you've told. I crossed a bridge last night as I read ~ Judy K
"Committee of One" is an inspiring story of an incredible woman in the midst of an impossible situation. A book worth reading - it gives new insight into the Palestinian dilemma. ~ Ann O
Although I lived in Saudi Arabia for a period of time and we heard stories about the Palestinians, I never realized what the true situation was. Now I know and I am truly shocked. Thank you for educating me in your book, "Committee of One." ~ Lorraine, Brooklyn, N.Y.