Closing the activities of the “For A
International Voluntary Work camp 2005
Youth Exchange Program, of the Public Relations Department,
finished its international voluntary work camp on Thursday. The
camp lasted for three weeks running from 1st - 20th
August 2005. The international volunteers, that attended, worked
in the Askar Development Center, where they devoted their time in
order to give the children of Askar refugee camp an opportunity to
develop a better psychological state from the bad conditions that
they were encountering. The international volunteers were
accommodated in two schools, where volunteers could interact with
the local community and played football with the neighbors,
The voluntary work
that began every day morning, and lasted for three weeks,
Volunteers were painting on one of the walls of the camp. The
painting incorporated pictures of the children, some pictures of
the disabled children and their right to life. Other paintings
were done on stones and cartoons as well as posters.
Release: Some games for children were done in order to help
release the tension caused by the current conditions of the
occupation. The idea was to develop their abilities and self
confidence by using different methods of release.
Some local and western songs were sung. The international
volunteers taught the local children to sing some western songs
while, in return, the children themselves taught some of the local
Palestinian songs that reflect the Palestinian traditions and
Children were given the chance to express their feelings and
themselves in a way that empowered their self confidence.
Football games and different sports and games were played,
creating a better interaction between the international volunteers
and the local children.
traditional folkloric dance, Dabka, was performed. Folkloric songs
were performed while a trainer instructed the international
volunteers to perform this unique Palestinian traditional dance.
theme of the international voluntary work camp included different
workshops and lectures; the goal of such activities was to create
a background to the Palestinian culture and history. Some of the
on the history of Palestine
Hejleh, Director of the Public Relations department, made a
presentation on the history of Palestine, the root of the conflict
and the important phases of the history of the Arab-Israeli
conflict. Another slide show was prepared by the volunteers of
Zajel, where pictures of the Palestinian people, their heritage
and culture were presented to the audience.
Slide show on
the History of Nablus City
Arafat, an active engineer who takes care of the renovation
projects in the Old City of Nablus, made a presentation on the
history of the city. He showed old and unique pictures of the city
during the Ottoman age and during the British mandate. He
explained the architectural designs of some of the buildings of
the Old City. He also showed the photos of some of the traditional
and typical houses before and after the invasion and the
destruction of the old city in 2002.
Mrs. Falak Khayat,
a woman activist and the director of the women's defense
association, came to speak about the historical background of the
Palestinian women's struggle to be librated from traditions at the
beginnings of the 20th century. She also presented some
controversial issues within the Islamic religion, such as:
polygamy and sex. A debate took place at the end of the
presentation and both sets of participants, Palestinians and
westerners, had the opportunity to discuss their perspectives
toward each of the topics.
Mrs. Khayat began by talking a bit about her
life; how she was born in Safad Town and lived in Haifa then moved
to Syria and Lebanon before returning to Nablus, when she got
married. She talked about her experience of getting married,
especially considering that she was still quite young at that
time, and she mentioned an important concept that
woman used to face before, and sometimes still - the concept of
not knowing how to say “no”. Women are obliged to accept
everything that the family imposes or that the husband and
children ask for.
She spoke about how she started to think more
about herself after her children had grown up and left for
university. It was then she thought about doing something useful
for her society and in particular for women who were mal-treated.
The defence society was established and opened a hot-line, which
is now open 24/7, to receive calls from women or members of
families who face any kind of violation (whether beating, rape
…etc.). She had seen the number of people calling to ask for help
grow from just a few women in the 1990's to thousands in the last
Mrs. Falak then talked about some social
problems that girls and women face and the relationship between
Islam and regulations in regard to women and how they’re treated.
The discussion was then opened up and volunteers asked questions
concerning these topics and more, in particular about freedom and
limits of liberalism in our society for women. It was then that
all the volunteers, especially the locals, started to talk about
the concept of hijab and the relationship between
traditions and religion.
the Ethnic Cleansing in the Former Yugoslavia
Nadim Burkaan, a
volunteer from Slovenia, prepared and gave a presentation on the
historical background of the conflict in the Former Yugoslavia and
the collapse of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Power
Point Presentation included scenes of the civil war and maps of
the six states of the Former Yugoslavia. A discussion about the
conflict and its roots took place and many questions were raised
about the religions in the area, the potential for tourism and the
Dayton Agreement that put an end of the civil war.
Tour in the
Refugee Camp of Askar
international volunteers had the opportunity to tour the refugee
camp of Askar and witnessed the Israeli siege imposed on the
surrounding villages of the refugee camp - the siege that did not
enable the villagers to move from their villages for a few months.
The volunteers also saw the impact of building an Israeli Jewish
colony in front of the refugee camp, as it has led to shootings
against the refugees' homes and has caused terror and fear.
prepared with some elders who were born in Palestine before the
war of 1948. These elders spoke about their lives in their
villages before the Diaspora and the deportation of their families
to the West Bank towns. They also spoke to the international
volunteers about the hard life they had to go through when they
had to live in tents and caves for a few years.
volunteers benefited from these interviews and could obtain
another point of view towards what had happen during and after the
war – a time that could be considered as the most difficult phase
of modern Palestinian history.
about the Nakba 1948 was opened by the Askar Development Center,
where posters and pictures of the deportation of the Palestinians
were shown to the international volunteers as well as to the local
refugees of the camp.
Football Match between the University Team and
Deanship of the Students' Affairs and Zajel Youth Exchange Program
organized a football match between the elite students of the
university team and the international volunteers.
The match resulted in a good performance by the
university students, who scored three goals, while the Zajel
international volunteers could only record one goal in reply.
On the top of the
Samaritans mountain of Jerzim, the international volunteers
managed to pass the checkpoint in order to reach the Samaritans
minority and visit its museum. There they were
met by the high priest, Husney Kohen, who gave a presentation on
the origins of the Samaritans and their history up until recent
times. He also explained the customs and roots of this
small minority in the region. This was followed by some questions
and the chance to take some photos of the museum and village.
and local volunteers visited the Roman Catholic Church in the old
city of Nablus. The Priest spoke about the historical conflict
between the eastern and western church since the time of the
Crusaders campaign. He then spoke about the impact of the Israeli
destruction and invasions on the church that took place in April
2002, when innocent citizens lost parts of their homes. In the
past five years the church has been damaged three times and partly
destroyed. He mentioned the difficulties that the Palestinians
face in order to get their independence and stressed the
importance of getting freedom and liberty. He also spoke about
tolerance and co-existence.
about the Italian culture and traditions was presented by the
Italian volunteers. They spoke about the rich culture of Italy and
its well known food. Another presentation was given by the Korean
volunteers who participated in the work camp; the presentation was
about the independence of Southern Korea and the proposals of the
reunion of both sides of Korea.
volunteers invited the international volunteers to their homes,
where they enjoyed meeting the families and had a better
understanding of the Palestinian culture and traditions.
Volunteers got the opportunity to listen to the local families
talk about the hard times they had gone through. Some of them
explained to the volunteers the Israeli violations to the
Palestinian citizens' rights and spoke about the victims' loss of
The work camp was
closed with a ceremony that took place at the auditorium of the
university where the Director of the Public Relations department,
Mr. Saed Abu Hijleh, thanked the international volunteers for
their support and solidarity.
Mr. Ala Yousef,
the Co-ordinator of the Youth Exchange Program, thanked the
participants of this summer's camp. He said: "It is my pleasure to
see the international volunteers coming from different parts of
the world to work with us, in order to build a better future for
our people in this neglected corner of the globe."
the spokeswoman of the international volunteers, spoke on behalf
of the international volunteer about her experience in Palestine.
She also thanked the local volunteers who had accompanied the
internationals in order to ensure their safety. She thanked the
Zajel program for giving her this opportunity to see the hardships
of life in Palestine. She also spoke about the deprived children
of Askar refugee camp.
presentation of photos showing the different parts and phases of
the work camp was displayed. At the close the volunteers were
given a letter of appreciation issued by the Public Relations