Gazal

It was one of the most beautiful, rich and rewarding weeks of my life.  At the end of it, everybody said that he felt that he took from this camp more than he gave…! So, it was a very giving camp for all of us in many respects, specially having the chance to meet so many people coming from different countries and having different backgrounds and cultures.

When we sat together for lunch, I used to feel we were like a family…! But I wondered: if we had a problem, would we solve it in the right way? Or would we behave like a family solving problems according to the principle: Might is Right… I really wanted to know that.

I met really exceptional people, because coming to Palestine requires lots of guts and determination, and most of all, it requires a strong belief in the Palestinian cause.

One of the volunteers said to me: "I feel that I didn't do much for the children..." And I told him: "Merely your presence is something for them." So thank you for believing in us, for your support, for your friendship, and for the unforgettable three weeks.


Jihad

This camp was a wonderful experience for me, meeting new people, learning their traditions, understanding the way they think and etc... But it was a chance for us too, to express ourselves, to help others understand the situation we live in, to get them to feel it, to get in touch with it so that hopefully they will be able to judge for themselves.

These past three weeks were more than just a work camp; I sincerely believe that we've made friends-for-life with all of the people who participated. Each single one of them left us a lasting impression about which we will never forget.

So at the end of the camp, they will all return to their countries with all of their new experiences, saying proudly: “I was in a work camp in PALESTINE!"


Asem

Before Zajel I wasn’t very aware, but now I am very active, very happy, and very practical at the same time. Now I’m going to explain my feelings, how I was before and how I am now!

After I met Alaa on the Messenger chat room, and after he explained the objectives of the Zajel program, I went to Jamela Buhered School were Zajel organizes the workcamp. I was very confused at first because it was my first experience of a work camp. I was introduced to Mira and Yusra who become my new sisters and after this I met the other guys and girls from our local volunteers. Then I introduced myself to the international volunteers, and they did the same to me. After this I discovered that I was entering a new, nice and interesting world and at the same time I found that I was carrying out a duty toward my occupied country, Palestine. This duty is to present to the internationals a true picture of Palestine and the Palestinians, a picture which reflects our life and how we are suffering from the occupation.

In the work camp I met a new family in the form of the international and local volunteers who shared everything with me.

In fact, the experience of the voluntary work is still in my mind, and it will stay there forever, because it represents a new phase for me, a stage in which I realized the real situation for those kids who are deprived of the simplest essentials of life.

I learned how I can bring a smile to the face of a small child who is trying to understand the meaning of freedom and help him to engage in hobbies which the occupation has deprived him/her of, such as drawing, painting, singing and playing.

All of this makes me feel more strongly about my duty to our Palestinian cause, and I want to say thanks to everybody who helped me and thanks to everybody who shared with us this great work camp.


Hakam

This was my first experience of a work camp. I was very happy when my sister told me I had been accepted as one of the local volunteers. This gave me the confidence that I could do something in the camp and give something to society and the people in Asker refugee camp, and that I could find new friends from different countries which I dream to visit some day.

The camp taught me how to deal with the problems I face and to accept orders from my leader. I learned the principle that says: implement then discuss. It was an important step in my life which taught me to be responsible toward my society and in particular Asker refugee camp where the camp was held.

I worked with disabled children and I was very sad when I saw the difficulties they have to face. I wish them a normal life and to live like everyone else. To all the volunteers, believe me I love you all, I miss all of you and I hope to see you soon in sha’a Allah.

                                                                           


Hussam

It is a great feeling you get through participating in voluntary work-camps, when you touch the pain of people directly as well as the the miserable life they live.  When you see the tears in their eyes as they try to say thank you, just then you recognize that you did something good and it gives a great feeling of satisfaction.

When I participated in Zajel, I had the idea that our duty was to welcome our friends, who knew about our just cause and had come here to help us, and to enable them to see the facts with their own eyes,

Just a few days after the beginning of the work-camp, that “duty” became more like a lesson for me. I had been feeling the pain and humiliation of the Israeli occupation exactly like others, but after the facts which I discovered during our visits to the old city of Nablus as well as the refugee-camps, and the conversations which we had with the people who had lived through “The Nakba”, the catastrophe, I realized how selfish I was, and how important it is to understand the pain of others.

On the other hand, we shouldn’t judge other people badly. They may not have the right idea about what’s going on in Palestine, they may not even hear about us because our enemy tries to hide the facts, so we have to fight in that area to make our rights both clear and understandable for other people, to make international public opinion support our case.

Finally I owe Zajel and all of its members my new character which has been enhanced through Zajel’s activities.


Lutfi

This was my first international work camp. This means that it was the first time I was able to meet volunteers from different countries and cultures, and so one of the advantages was to know all these volunteers and to have some new and good friends.

Another advantage was to let these volunteers see that we are people under occupation and we are struggling for our freedom, and that our rights are supported by the UN decisions.

We also had an opportunity to tell them the truth about our religion (Islam), and that it encourages the spreading of peace and love between people all over the world. We showed them an example in our city where people of three different religions (Islam, Samaritan and Christian) can live together and love each other.

All these things together and a lot more, made this summer camp a great event in my life that deserves your participation!


Razan

I was very impressed with my experience of the camp. I learnt many things about other cultures which made me change my views about people. I also had the chance to tell others about our culture and our situation.

It was the first time I had participated in such a work camp. I improved my English and my character became stronger. It was very interesting, especially when we went to Askar to play with the children. I understood how deep their suffering is but they always smile to overcome their suffering, to show people they can still live. I loved those children; they were always coming to me and touching my hands. I will do my best to meet them again to show them that we still remember them even if the camp has finished

One day I went with other volunteers to visit some refugees to listen to their stories: how they were deported in 1948, lost their children and many other painful things. I felt upset and concerned, but I want to tell them that the day will come when they will go their real homes and the sun will rise.

 In general these were three of the best weeks of my life and I met many exceptional people. So, thank you very much, thank you for being here, even for that small period of time. Your presence here meant a lot to us; to know that there are people who share our suffering and provide us with hope that tomorrow may be better than today.


Muhammad

It was a wonderful experience to be a participant in the work camp, especially as it was a melting pot for locals and internationals.

What distinguished the camp is that it was held during the Israeli imposed curfew on Nablus which put the camp in a challenging atmosphere (to be or not to be). Thank god all participants were steadfast enough to continue running their activities fervently.

This experience can be summarized into three things: cultural and civilization exchange, correct behaviors, and the desire to give.

One important thing I have added to my experince is how to deal with people of different cultural backgrounds and customs, how to interact with them without hurting somebody’s feelings or norms. I also reinforced my English language and conversational skills during the talks I had with the participants.

It is not an exaggeration to say that I felt very good when I contributed to bringing a smile to the faces of the Askar Refugee Camp children; how nice my feeling was when I felt that I was participating in changing for a few hours the sorrow, sadness and stress the children live in into happiness and enjoynment.

And last but not least, I would like to thank all the participants for being so nice, kind and hardworking. To those who still do not have the chance to be here in Palestine, I think it is an inviting experience.  Do not miss it.


Yasmin

I spent a beautiful time in this camp and I learnt many things that I didn't know before.

I was introduced to new cultures such as the American one that I never knew anything about, and now I'm thinking of visiting it to know more about it.  Not only the United States but also Britain which I always dreamed of visiting and now this camp allowed me to have friends from Britain, Italy and many other countries.

Also, this camp taught me the importance of friendship; it's the most important thing that a person can have in his life. Asker Refugee Camp also gave me the chance to know new people and new friends. It was tiring work but the children’s faces and their smile made us forgot that we were tired.

My favorite corner was counseling I enjoyed working there with German. He has a special way of dealing with children and I think that we gave them in this corner some things that they were in need of.