The Llanidloes-As Sawiya Friendship Association (LASFA) group was formed about two years ago. As Sawiya is a village of approximately 3,000 people in Salfit province, right in the middle of the West Bank, Palestine. It is dominated on all its surrounding hills by illegal Israeli settlements, from which comes the continual threat of settler violence.
LASFA aims to provide support for this village through publicising its situation, financial contributions to community projects, and exchange visits. Computers have been provided and internet access is now in place. Our next step is to arrange for two teachers from As Sawiya to visit Wales later this year.
To raise funds for this visit and with visions of long sunny days, I undertook a sponsored cycle ride the length of Wales. I set off in May from Holyhead in high winds and grey clouds. With the wind almost always against me, I wound my way across Ynys Mon. Caernarfon to Porthmadog was okay, but the next day was a cyclist’s day from hell. From Porthmadog to Dolgellau I was in constant heavy rain and even higher winds, and drenched by the spray from lorries – I began to wish one might actually injure me so that I could be taken to a nice warm bed in hospital! I eventually arrived in Dolgellau, cold and soaked to the skin.
Machynlleth to Llanidloes, great views. Builth. The garrison town of Brecon and the sound of gunfire from army exercises. The Taff Trail, which was traffic free, was a real treat. Merthyr Tydfil, Abercynon, Pontypridd, and finally Cardiff Castle: my destination!
The trip was a personal achievement but most importantly it provided an opportunity to further publicise the Palestinian plight and to raise money for our friendship link.