Thursday, December 25, 2008

building wings

we took the bus last night from jerusalem to bethlehem we were dropped of outside the apartheid wall. it's hard for any description to depict it's looming immensity. and to imagine that for most here it is just a fact of life. i have it easy, my foreign passport and features allow my passage to be quick, but for so many i have met today they tell me of how they have had to adjust there lives due to the inability to travel directly from one town to another. as i travelled to Al-Rowwad this morning i drove along the wall for quite a while. everywhere you look there are messages against the occupation and denouncing the tactics taken against the palestinians by the israelis. a shirt i saw - "with israelis - uzi does it" had a picture of the guns they see every day of there life held by soldiers who get to decide how many hassles they need endure that day. these kids (the soldiers) are young. almost all of them i've seen so far can't be older than early twenties if that. i realize i'm having a hard time finding the words to describe the grotesque inequality with which one can treat another without a second thought.

i went to Al Rowwad early this morning and arrived well before they opened. i sat outside for a while and had a "conversation" with a young deaf boy who visits the center. he tried to help me find someone to open the door but i didn't mind waiting. it's amazing to me how sometimes words have very little to do with the ability to communicate. i met with the women's unit coordinator, marwa. she is helping to arrange for the training i will do here later this week (hopefully saturday and sunday). she runs programs here in hopes of providing a space just for women, which isn't a typical part of this culture. she says for the most part housewives stay at home sometimes visiting with neighbors but mostly not having lives or outlets of there own. she is involved in an embroidery program, where the women who visit the center get together and embroider various items from clothing to purses. they have orders mainly from france and other places in europe as well as selling to visitors to the center. they also just got a few sewing machines and are teaching the women how to make clothing, with the hope of doing advanced training soon. she has also started a "fitness" program which is more a way of empowering the women through arranging for them to travel places they have never been, having group discussions, and finding ways to support self-confidence and expression. i am excited to meet with them. she showed me the beautiful work they have been doing.

the volunteer coordinator and dance/theatre instructor ribal took me on a quick tour of aida. he jokes sometimes he likes the wall - it gives him a place to express how he feels, referring to the massive amount of graffiti against the occupation. i asked him about a watch tower and he told me it's no longer used and was only used during the construction of the wall to shoot dissenters, young kids throwing rocks. there is a large space on the wall that has been painted white where they arranged movies and had performances there over the summer. he explained that his job here is to work with the children to give them another way to express how they feel about the occupation and the daily affects it has on them. it's a way for them to share their stories, that touches on a much different level than what the news may or may not report. they use theatre to inform the rest of us, through their eyes. they perform traditional dances and plays to depict events and acts that no child should have to experience, and it seems very healing to watch them laugh and play as they rehearse. there is a performance tonight that i'm excited to see.

enough for now, i'm very tired so i hope my thoughts are coherent. plus i'm not really use to writing them down.

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