Sunday, 18 March 2012

Day Three: The Palestinian Day

By Cordu N'Diaye (Aisheh's buddy)

The day started off in a fairly lackadaisical manner, which was perfect. The night before a few of us stayed up late to watch ‘28 Days Later’; and if the fact that the movie finished at 4am wasn’t enough to render me exhausted at the 8 am wake up, then the mild concern that there were rabid zombies lurking in the shadows of every dark room (so that sleep evaded me for a while longer) had definitely performed that trick.

Sunday was ‘Palestinian Day’ at the camp so Dr Fadwah and a few of the girls got up early to make, what can only justifiably be described as a feast, complete with fresh hand mashed hummus, fried bread&cheese and baklavah.

After breakfast we gathered to listen to the presentations that our Palestinian friends had prepared and the events and stories of the following few hours were amongst the prominent of the whole trip. The topics that the girls spoke on ranged from ‘Education’ and ‘The Wall’ to ‘Checkpoints’ and ‘Refugees’ but the one constant evident in all of the presentations was the silent determination of these otherwise everyday women to fight for their country and their resilient desire for the simple right to just ‘be’.

Haya prepares her presentation 
Dr Fadwa demonstrates the difference between green and blue Palestinian ID cards

It would be unfair to say that women everywhere, especially those of ambition, don’t hold most of these characteristics true, but during that afternoon it became evident that it ran especially deep in these women and to me they represented what I imagined to be a much larger, stronger nationalistic sentiment among Palestinians.

The afternoon events that followed inspired another one of the most interesting parts of the visit. After the presentations had been given and the Q&A concluded, we did what was inevitably bound to happen when 20+ women confine themselves to a small space, we had makeovers. What really surprised me here was the versatility of our Palestinian friends’ attitudes and I felt slightly naive for expecting them to be as sombre playing dress up and painting henna as they were when they were telling us stories of being regularly detained, mocked and humiliated at Israeli checkpoints by military soldiers whilst on their way to University.
The evening ended in dabkeh, another campfire (with Dr Fadwah’s sahlab to quench the legendary campfire thirst) and a fantastic rendition of “London’s Burning” lead by Anna Amo.

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