Our Story

 

Abraham Path Initiative

Annual Report 2021

Projects

Communites

km of Trails

Walkers per Year

While many in the world are building walls, API is building paths.
They are building pathways of hope.”

Stephen Heintz

President & CEO, Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

The Abraham Path Initiative (API) is a non-governmental organization that develops, nurtures, and promotes walking trails associated with the legendary travels of Abraham and his family. Together with local community members, we cultivate walking trails so people can connect, share stories, and learn about each other. Small businesses thrive, children’s horizons widen, and friendships flourish.

By drawing attention to the spectacular landscapes and enduring traditions of hospitality in Southwest Asia (commonly known as the Middle East), we advance prosperity and cross-cultural exchange. Imagine yourself exploring an ancient winery, aqueduct, or the mosaic remains of a Byzantine home. Have a cup of tea with a shepherd. Help out with the olive harvest. Go tell others.

API uses the power of storytelling to advance our mission, not only on-the-ground, but also on the Internet through Webinars, LiveOnLine tours, and monthly e-blasts that introduce global audiences to people and places in Southwest Asia. Abraham Path Fellows pursue cultural heritage preservation projects and use photos and films to tell underreported stories about people and places that are off the beaten path.

Since 2006 we’ve cultivated 2000 kilometers of walking trail in Jordan, Palestine, Sinai, and Turkey. More than 80,000 people have walked on them. Now we’re working with colleagues to build trails in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. From Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean, to Memphis and Mecca, Abraham’s legendary hospitality is practiced every day. Let’s walk there together, in person and online.

For how we started, click here.

In 2006, 25 people embarked on a trip from Urfa to Hebron. They were following the footsteps of the legendary Abraham, from what may have been his place of birth, to the place he is believed to be buried. This journey laid the foundation for a bold and hopeful project: the development of walking trails approximating the narrative of Abraham (Ibrahim, in Arabic & Turkish; Braham in Kurdish) and his family, sharing hospitality with people they met along the way. Stories related to the family of Abraham abound in the region, from today’s Iraq to the Sinai Peninsula and to the Hajj pilgrimage.

By 2020, nearly 80,000 visitors had walked the network of trails inspired by the Abraham Path project. They’ve told tens of thousands of stories about the people of the region, their families, traditions, art, architecture, languages, recipes, and agricultural practices. Walkers foster friendships across sometimes challenging divides, boost local economic development, and enrich understanding of this region and its peoples for audiences around the globe.

Walking is a tool for deepening understanding of self and others; it allows an experience of culture that is unattainable from the seat of a bus. The simple act of walking has connected people around the world since time immemorial, with the Eastern Mediterranean an active crossroad among Africa, Asia, and Europe. API has seeded walking trails here in order to reintroduce this storied region as one of irrepressibly hospitable people. By shining light on traditions of hospitality, API evokes the beloved regional origin story that shows up in everyday life: residents welcome strangers in honor of Abraham, a spiritual ancestor of over half of humanity.

Together with local colleagues we have built trails and encouraged their ongoing maintenance, improvement, and extension. We have trained guides who are now training a new generation of trekking experts from the coast of the Red Sea to the Jordan Valley, and from the plains of southern Turkey to the mountains of northern Iraq. The success of these trails and news about them bolster a growing experiential tourism sector that brings jobs and income to rural families and communities. Stories shared by those that journey here weave a tapestry of appreciation that transcends preconceived notions about the reality of this region. The Abraham Path Initiative hopes that shared experiences of hospitality may help to counter misconceptions.

Our Mission

Nurture economic growth, cross-cultural communication, and heritage preservation in Southwest Asia through community-based tourism and transformational online programming.

Our Vision

We envision a future in which people connect through conversation, change perceptions, and transform relationships, through the simple act of walking.

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