A HELENSBURGH woman will travel to the Middle East shortly to spend three months working as a Human Rights Observer. Melanie Ward, 32, will be posted to the West Bank in the occupied Palestinian territory, where she will work as part of an international team from August to November.

The former Hermitage Academy pupil's role will be to monitor and report on human rights abuses, to help Israelis and Palestinians working for peace, and to support vulnerable communities who suffer under the military occupation of the West Bank. She will be travelling as part of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), an initiative of the Quakers.

The programme is the biggest presence of internationals working for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory. It has two aims: to help end the occupation, and to advocate for a just peace based on international law.

Melanie, who has travelled to the region before, spoke to the Advertiser about her trip: "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the greatest running sores in the world today.

In the face of this it is easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless - but there is something that each of us can do about it.

"Despite the gravity of the conflict, I am looking forward to the chance to make a practical difference by supporting those ordinary Israelis and Palestinians who desperately want peace. The presence of EAPPI helps ordinary people to feel safer and know that they are not alone, for example through work accompanying vulnerable Palestinian children in getting to school. It also provides a vital service in monitoring and reporting on human rights abuses.

"With my day job in international development, I have travelled to the region on several occasions and each time have come away feeling the need to do something about it. This is my way of making a contribution."

Her day job is as head of advocacy for major international poverty charity ActionAid in London and still visits family and friends in Helensburgh.

On her return from the Middle East part of her role will be to arrange meetings with elected politicians and give talks to groups of interested people.