Thanks to Kwame Philips, Ben Possibly and Lajee Center’s Media Unit, 8 teenagers of Aida Camp had the opportunity to learn how to make a digital story. Nowadays, it is very important to use the technologies as a strenght. That’s why we decided to make a video course during 2 days.
We gave the topic’s choices to the teenagers. Directly, they chosen to talk about their lifes’ conditions. The video is nammed "Life in Palestine" to show all about their way of life.
The new technologies allow to make the difference in our struggle against the Israelis army’s occupation. Childrens and teenagers are occupied people as all the Palestinians inhabitants. In this consequence, all of them want to resist occupying forces by any and all lawfull means.
Kwame Philips was managing the children from the beginning, to help to express themselves, to recording and filming the video. It was a challenge for them to get the self-confidence in front of the camera. We tried to give them creativity, inspiration to guide themselves to be self-sustaining.
Not in the same time, not in the same moment, but all the children of Aida get a story to share us about the attack from the Israelis army.
Between 12 and 17 yo, all from different origins villages, they have affected theirs daily days by bombs, arrests, rubbers bullets, tears gas or weapons. Days and nights, in their house, or just in playing soccer, Israeli achieve their freedom. In this video, teenagers accused this violence.
In this short movie, we can see that the humans rights are not respected. The Palestinian community have no freedom to get the same rights than the others people all around the world. When a person is shot, they don’t not receive the same care. They are monitored at any time by the watch tower and get the habit to see a member of their family to be arrested in front of their eyes. They are attacked in their private life all day long and also from the nights raids. Even them, they can be arrested because the Israelis army don’t do the difference between a child and an adult.
When you watch this video, you learn more about the life of a Palestinian’s refugee child. It was a double mission for us : to teach how to use a camera and to turn the weakness into strength. In this kind of situation, the camera is powerful.
In Palestine, no matter what the weapon of choice – whether voice, pen or camera – there is a price to be paid for its use. Without them – who are the future generation - if there is no struggle, no progress could come.
As well as, the self-determination of the teenagers is to never give up and don’t forget the hope of a freedom and independent country. This workshop allows to position themselves as critical thinkers and to step back from their situation.
Ben Possibly was coordinating all the workshop but precisely to learn how to edit the video the second day. He was very helpful to teach children computational thinking and programming skills in a fun and intuitive way.
In front and behind the camera, children were curious, were not ashamed to ask questions to learn more and glad to get more knowledges about manage a movie. It was their first time and they did very well! The result shows it.
Afterwards, we screened the movie to all the Lajee's staff members and guest and all of them appreciated it.
We would like to gratefully thank to John Cabot University Dept. of Communicaton who coordinated with us this project.
Yesterday we at Lajee were graced by the presence of Alaa Abdul Karim from Dheishah Camp and Khaled Al-Azraq from Aida Camp, who were both political prisoners that spent 15 years and 30 years respectively in the Israeli Prison System. Kamen Sulieman from the Tameer Institute was also with us.
The former prisoners shared with us their own experiences of being in the prison and how difficult it is for political prisoners to meet their loved ones, convey any messages, to continue their education and even obtain materials to read. Nevertheless, they never stopped striving to continue studying and produce knowledge while they were in the prison.
They both spoke about Waleed Daqah, also a political prisoner, whom they met in the prison. Waleed is serving a life sentence but while in prison, he accomplished writing and publishing a book titled ‘Secret of the Oil’.
The book speaks about freedom and heritage as well as describes the life of the prisoners and their longing to be free. This is the author’s first book catered to teenagers. He suffered a lot to write it, penning it little by little on slips of paper that he snuck to his wife during visits.
Through the process, Waleed faced a lot of obstacles as Israel tried many times to stop the book from being published. The Israeli Army placed him in solitary confinement after the book was successfully published by the Tameer Institution. currently he is working on the next two books of the series.
We thank Alaa and Khaled for sharing their stories with us and thank Waleed and all our prisoners for their continued struggle for the Palestinian cause.
Over the past week, we were honoured to share the company of Nancy and Hubert, two important supporters of Lajee Center and our programs.
Over the past 4 years, Nancy has been a big supporter of the Music Unit through the McMillan-Reba Stewart Foundation. Her generous support has enabled our children to keep practicing their craft and share their talent globally.
They paid us a visit to witness in person, the progress that our different units have made. They spent time with the Health Unit and the Environment Unit to learn more about their programs.
They accompanied Dr David and the Community Health Workers on their routine visits to their patients in Aida and Beit Jibrin camps as well as visited greenhouses in both camps with Shatha, the director of the Environment Unit.
While here, they also attended a screening of the film “Naila and the Intifada” which was followed by a discussion of the themes and topics raised. We discussed about the role and strength of women in the Palestinian community as well as the challenging and complicated way forward as a community for Palestine.
Their visit was concluded by a wonderful and joyous musical performance by the pioneering batch of music students the new ones as well. The new students have been coached by the pioneering batch of students and it was marvellous to witness how they had shared their skills with the younger children from all over Bethlehem.
After the performance, Nancy presented on the current situation regarding relations between the US and Israel. She also shed light on the growing support of Palestine among the American society through various campaigns and BDS movements.
We would like to express our utmost gratitude to both Hubert and Nancy for their continued support of Lajee Center and the Palestinian cause. We were thrilled to have them in our company here in Aida and hope to welcome them back soon.
Throughout the month of September, two Spanish volunteers organised Spanish language and circus classes.
The classes were catered to six boys and six girls between the ages of ten and twelve as well as two volunteers of Lajee who will be going on a cultural trip to Spain early next year.
The participants learned how to greet others and introduce themselves.
They were also taught colours and numbers in Spanish through fun games and interactive learning methods.
By the end of the six classes the participants were able to hold basic conversations in Spanish.
When asked why they wanted to learn Spanish, one of the participants said “Spanish is a beautiful language and I really wanted to learn how to speak it. I like the way it sounds.” Another participant said that he “wanted to learn a new language and really enjoyed the Spanish classes.”
It is important for Lajee to provide such opportunities for the children as there are numerous benefits to learning a foreign language. It develops cognitive skills, such as problem solving and decision making. It also exposes them to new cultures and societies from around the world.
In addition to learning a new language, the children also picked up new skills in the form of circus tricks.
They learnt how to juggle with balls and clubs.
They also tried their hand at diabolos and walking on stilts.
Such activities help to keep the children occupied in fun and healthy ways. Thank you to our international volunteers for executing such initiatives.
Over the past few days, Aida has been filled with bright smiles and light-hearted laughter as the musicians from Zoo Posse and the clowns and circus group from Pallasos en Rebeldía paid us a visit as Festiclown – Circus Against Occupation made their tour around the West Bank.
On Friday, the 21st of September, Zoo Posse and the circus began their shenanigans in the streets in front of Lajee Center. The musicians trumpeted away while the clowns climbed up a huge metal structure, performing silly stunts, making the crowd roar with laughter.
Soon a crowd of young and old gathered and the whole entourage paraded through the camp towards the Alrowwad Cultural Arts Center.
There, the young musicians of Alrowwad and Lajee showcased their musical skills before welcoming Zoo Posse to the stage.
Zoo Posse pumped up the crowd with their upbeat tunes while the clowns danced energetically with the audience. They created a hopeful and joyous atmosphere filled with contagious laughter and candid smiles.
The festivities carried on well till the sun went down. It was a lovely and heartening experience standing together with the Spanish performers in solidarity against the occupation.
On the morning of the 24th of September, Lajee Center and Festiclown visited Ecole des Frères in the city of Bethlehem. The school children were ecstatic and thrilled to have such fun visitors in the school.
They could take part in creative arts as well as in some fun and games.
The children also really enjoyed having their faces painted.
The circus performers ended the day with a bang, mesmerising the students with their acts.
That evening, Festiclown had its final performance in Bethlehem in the soccer pitch behind Lajee center. As the event was starting and our director, Salah Ajarma, was making an opening statement, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) shot a can of tear gas which narrowly missed the soccer pitch. Nevertheless, the clowns and the community of Aida were more motivated than ever to carry on with the festivities.
The children of Aida got to have their faces painted, played games, and danced around on that fun-filled evening.
Then jugglers, acrobats and clowns captivated the crowds with their circus tricks and performances.
One of the acrobats performed a piece whereby she broke down a replica of the apartheid wall. It was moving to know that they stood in camaraderie with us against the injustices and violations of human rights that we are facing.
The children wanted to join in on tearing the wall down.
Thank you Festiclown, Pallasos en Rebeldía, and Zoo Posse for visiting us! All the smiles and laughter they shared with us will always be greatly appreciated and we eagerly anticipate their return to Palestine and to Aida Camp again. Thank you for standing side by side in solidarity with us against the ongoing occupation.