Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 25, 2013: Bethlehem City tour+ Aida Refugee Camp

After meeting at the Ramallah Friends School campus bright and early, Go Palestine Camp began the journey to Bethlehem City. The counselors pointed out checkpoints, the wall and the stumps of olive trees along the way that were a result of the occupation. This allowed the campers to get a first hand look at Palestine beyond the city of Ramallah. During this time, we stopped to take a picture by a work of art by Banksy, which depicted a Palestinian man throwing flowers, symbolizing peace.
Once we reached Bethlehem, we went to a museum at the Bank of Palestine to see artwork that was almost 400 years old. The museum is not yet open to the public, but the bank graciously gave Go Palestine Summer Camp a private tour. Then we went to the Church of the Nativity where we talked about the history of the church as well as the effect of the Israeli Occupation on it. We discussed the experiences of the church during the Second Intifada, explaining that eight people were killed inside it, and tanks were stationed outside the church. The occupation is even affecting holy institutions.
Afterwards, we went to the Dar al-Kalima College to hear from Dr. Metri Raheb. Dr. Raheb emphasized the critical role Dar al-Kalima plays in the lives of its students and in the Palestinian community in Bethlehem and its surrounding areas. Furthermore, Dr. Raheb reflected on how Palestinians can spread awareness about the occupation and its acts through art and culture, using Mohammed Assaf as an example. We then ate a delicious meal at the Citadel, which was originally an Orthodox Church and followed this by buying gifts at the Jadal Center for Culture and Development. After that, we went to the Separation Wall to witness the effect it has on Palestinians. A woman who lives in a house that is cut off by the wall told us her story and invited Go Palestine Camp into her family’s stores. The money used to buy their products was given to children who cannot get food because of the wall. After this, the camp walked along the wall to see its massive size and to appreciate the graffiti that stated, “Make hummus, not walls” and “Free Palestine”.
Then, we went to the Alrowwad Culture and Theater Society (ACT'S) to learn about the Aida Refugee Camp as well as the projects taking place at the center, and the huge impact the center makes on the lives of the refugees. Our campers played with kids in the Aida Refugee camp, and many of them said that playing with the children was the highlight of their day.

Finally, Go Palestine Camp went to Beit Sahour and listened to Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh speak about the history of Palestine and the idea that resistance is existence. This was followed by dinner with a beautiful view of Jerusalem! All in all, today was a very eventful, productive and enjoyable day!

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