Tag Archives: Summer Camp

Summer Camp in Umm al-Kheir

Officers of the civil administration of the occupation army came recently to Umm al-Kheir cluster near the fence of Carmel settlement. The officers said to the locals that they intend to to demolish in the short run, most of the structures in the place that were built in replacement for the structures demolished last October (check: https://villagesgroup.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/house-demolitions-in-umm-al-kheir/). In the meanwhile in the same cluster, Na’ama Hadhalin, a  teacher and local activist, organized, with the help of her husband Eid and high school students,a summer camp for the children who experience, since they were born, the anxiety and uncertainty of those whose houses are been demolished again and again. The summer camp was sponsored by the British Shalom-Salaam Trust (http://www.bsst.org.uk/). Eyal Shani of the Villages Group held Tai Chi workshop for the children in the summer camp. Below is a report by Na’ama – the summer camp organizer and some photos she attached from the summer camp’s activities.

Ehud, on behalf of the Villages Group

Letter from Na’ama Hadhalin, in charge of the Umm al-Kheir summer children’s camp

Hello,

To begin, on behalf of myself and the villagers of Umm al-Kheir, I would like to thank all of you who helped this summer camp in which our children spent an enjoyable and delicious time this season.

We began our activity on the third day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, July 19, 2015. On the first day, the camp’s outfit were distributed and the children were divided into three groups led by the three volunteers of the camp, according to their age groups – from 4- to 15-years old, aimed at their respective activities. We began by preparing holiday greeting cards. Activities were geared for fun, learning and the arts. We also enjoyed some drama, puppet theater, singing, drawing, puzzles and more, alongside talks about morality values, tolerance, honesty and cleanliness.

On July 27, a trip was held in which the villagers of Umm al-Kheir participated. It was a special occasion in which we- including the adults among us – breathed some enjoyable free air and holiday spirit. On July 28 the camp’s ending ceremony was held with the parents from Umm al-Kheir attending as well as a group of young people from Sweden. School bags were handed out as well as writing materials for the children who had taken part in the camp.

Finally, I would like to express heartfelt thanks on behalf of myself – Na’ama, the camp volunteers and all of Umm al-Kheir’s inhabitants and children. Thank you for having enabled us to give our children a chance to spend some very enjoyable time during an especially long summer vacation. Our children eagerly waited for this vacation in order to be able to participate in the summer camp that you supported and helped bring about.

Thank you for your humaneness and love, and your solidarity with us.

Yours sincerely, Na’ama Hadhalin

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Just Another Thursday? Yes, Just Another Thursday (12.6.2014)

It is summer vacation for the children in the West Bank, and the summer camp in Umm al-Kheir has already started.

Nadav and I go there to experience the small pleasures of people and children, our long time friends, who are living in the shadow of the occupation, and under constant threat of demolitions and violence.

With minimal facilities, on a voluntary basis, and not without arguing among themselves on contents (as every living breathing society with problems from within, even without the occupation from without), they manage to hold an exciting summer camp for children. How precious are moments of joy in poverty’s dwellings.

This time no soldier stopped us and said we cannot pass because a certain area was suddenly declared a closed military zone; we didn’t receive notice on a Palestinian girl whose head was injured from a stone shot from a settler’s slingshot; no girls were stopped on their way from school just because of a settler’s false story. Today, such happenings, which occur almost daily in south Mt. Hebron, did not happen.

But something is bound to happen, if not in the Occupied Territories, beyond the Green Line, than within the Green Line, where the people of al-Araqib, Nadav and I all have the same citizenship, so say our blue identity cards. But when Nadav and I reached the road leading to the cemetery of al-Araqib, the current stronghold of the living residents, we were met with a police force, armed for battle, asking us who we were.

Nadav answered:

“I am Nadav from Kibbutz Urim, and this is Erella from Kibbutz Shoval, and we are neighbors and wish to visit our friends.”

“This is a closed police zone,” answered the policeman. “Power shovels are working here and we are guarding to keep the citizens safe, so they won’t get hurt.” Nadav asks to see a paper testifying this is a closed area.

The policemen start losing their patience, start responding aggressively to a legitimate request of a citizen. Nadav asks the policeman to call his commander. The policeman says he doesn’t have the phone number. Nadav asks for the policeman’s details. The policeman hands Nadav his Police ID. Immediately afterwards they ask us for identifying certificates. It takes time until we get them back. The policemen talk to us all at once and some of them aggressively, in a way not fitting civil servants.

The Bedouin village of Al-Araqib is besieged, and its remaining residents – citizens of the state of Israel – are expelled and discriminated by law and defined as state enemies (http://mondoweiss.net/2014/06/bedouin-demolished-proceedings.html). At the very same time, the implementers of this unlawful law (some of them Bedouins serving in the Police) tell the sweet story of protecting civilians from the blow of the power shovel. And when the citizen doesn’t really buy into this manipulation, then he as well turns into a dangerous enemy.

We drove away. We did not reach the people of Al-Araqib. We did not strengthen their hands. And our hands? They weakened. Our heart, that has room to contain the pain of the other, has been defeated. (Not that we didn’t know this from the start.) The harshness of the heart won yet again. Sad. Painful. Facing human ignorance that we are unable to change, all we can do is lick the burning wounds of helplessness.

Nadav and Erella.

Summer Camps in South-Hebron/Massafer-Yatta, Against the Background of Military Oppression

A few days after the three youngsters from Umm al-Kheir returned from their detention (of which I told you about in my former letter, dated June 10), there started in Umm al-Kheir a summer camp for all the children of the place (3 to 13 years old). The summer camp consisted of two groups (a group of the small children and a group of the older children). The guides were four women from Umm al-Kheir itself: Na’ama, Sara, Ikhlas and Taghrid. We went to visit on Thursday, as we always do. It was the fifth day of the summer camp. Looking at the sights and hearing the voices – our hearts expanded . A small summer camp in the middle of the desert, in two tents that serve as a local community center (established with such effort and constantly under the threat of demolition). Yet the children are happy and the guides’ faces are beaming.

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We stood there for a good two hours – Ophir, Limor and me – watching. Fun games seasoned occasionally by music activity (a delightful implementation of what the guides learned in a music workshop held in a nearby village in April and facilitated by Fabianne), relaxing breathing exercises, a tasty falafel in the break and plenty of joy.

At the end of the camp there was a trip. “Without a trip, the summer camp is not really worth it,” say the children, for whom going out of the constricting boundaries of the village was a formative event.

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At the end of the ninth day of the camp the children return to their homes and meet there the security guard of Karmel (the nearby settlement), escorted by the army, the police and Civil Administration officials. For what went on there, see here.

We were glad we could at least enable the kids a summer camp (with the generous support of our friends from England).

A few days later started the summer camp in Susiya.

On our weekly visit we arrived on a cheerful camp day, guided by Yihya and Fatme, who were assisted by three local girls. One of the activities was a play the children prepared.
A local Palestinian family sits down to have its meal, when a young man bursts into their home and asks for refuge from soldiers who are chasing him and trying to catch him. The family quickly hides the young man but a collaborating neighbor informs on him and the soldiers enter the house, grab the young man, bit him, tie him and take him away with them.

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A piece of reality. The children bring it into the play with all its complexity. The topic was chosen by them, without any guidance from the grownups. In a completely natural, though maybe not really conscious way, the children process their traumas, and the summer camp is a space that enables that.

The very next day, Civil Administration officers, accompanied by soldiers, arrived and delivered stop-work orders (precursors of demolition orders) to almost every family in Susiya (Limor wrote about it in her last report).

Since then events succeeded one another (as always, and a bit more). My writing pace falls behind the pace of the events we would like to share with you. I started writing this report at the end of June, when the summer camps ended. And here we are, past the middle of August, and every passing day increases the important “debt” – to tell their stories.

Sometimes the two camps – the going-to-the-field one and the writing-about-the-field one – clash within me. Usually the first one wins …

Many thanks to each and every one who contributed, in funds or spirit, so these summer camps could have taken place, and successfully so.

We are thankful and our friends are thankful, through us. And the children? The photos will tell their happiness …

Yours, with much love,

Erella (in the name of the members of the Villages Group)

Susiya’s Second Summer Camp – A Call for Aid

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I’m writing to you in the name of Fatima Nawajeh, the initiator and organizer of Susiya’s summer camp.

For many years the reality of a summer camp inside their community was an unattainable dream for the inhabitants and the children of Palestinian Susiya. Their cave-dwellers’ village was evacuated by the Israeli army in 1986. Once again in 2001, the occupation army expelled Susiya’s residents and destroyed the families’ scattered dwelling places built after the first evacuation. Meanwhile, the nearby settlers of the Jewish Sussya (built and subsidized by the Israeli government on expropriated land in the 1980’s) continue grabbing more and more agricultural land from its legal owners, local Palestinians farmers.

Against all odds, under these dark and oppressive circumstances, the young generation in Susiya is feeling more and more confident about their inner powers and abilities. They strive to take responsibly for the future of their community. As part of this positive development, an energetic team of local young activists led by Fatima Nawajeh orchestrated the first ever summer camp in Susiya. The camp lasted eight days in July 2009. This summer camp was a great success and gave a big boost for Susiya’s community life.

This year, the six local activists of the organizing team seek to expand the summer camp from eight to eleven days. At hand for help, are we, the longtime friends of Susiya from the Villages Group. The Israeli branch of the Smile Liberation Front, an international clown organization, is promising to visit the 2010 summer camp for a complete day.

As in the previous year, the organizers of Susiya’s summer camp are appealing to you in a call for financial support that will secure the realization of this year summer camp. The overall budget of the summer camp is $3,000, a sum which covers the needs of meals for the kids during the time of the daily activities, materials and accessories, outfits for a new Debka dancers group, expenses for a one day trip to a park in one of the cities in the West Bank, and a modest compensation for the counselors.

Anyone among you who wants to contribute and help, please see our donation page for details. Please also coordinate with me at ksehud@gmail.com. Of course, if you would like more information please contact me as well.

All the best,

Ehud Krinis
Villages Group