Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Palestinians and Ramadan
I’m back from the photoshop lessons offered by the Norwegian Peoples Aid to the refugee camp students enrolled in the media and cultural association. I walk towards the center with the director of the cultural association who invited me to attend the lessons and to see how these sessions run, especially since I work with them when I give English lessons.
Him: “ you know, the question of Palestine is very complicated”
Me: “ what do you mean?”
Him: “for us NGOs who are not associated with any international organization like the UN or European aid, we have it hard”.
Me: “ I thought you have it easy because these international groups would die to collaborate with you local organizations, because you know more about your own problems”.
Him: “ha, you’d think ...”
Me: “yeah, don’t you?”
Him: “ see, it seems to me that funding comes ONLY AFTER the tragic fact. Meaning, only after a kid dies, or drops out of school, or a war breaks out, or our sewage system gives rise to an epidemic, only AFTER this tragic fact do these organizations rush to help us out.
What I want to do with my organization is to create preventative measures BEFORE the tragic fact. Like education and awareness.
I heard that some of these UN organizations kick out a teacher if he’s good, and if he teaches well. They want uneducated masses. The idea is as long as Palestinians suffer, there’s a market for these organizations. Because if we’re not suffering, who are these aid companies going to aid?
What will they tell their governments when they ask for huge lumps of money towards ‘aiding’ us, if we’re okay and well and educated? They’d be out of business.”
Me: “I see.”
Him: “ See, it’s Ramadan, and these kids, who are between the age of 14 and 20, come everyday and stay for two hours straight with no break working endlessly and tirelessly. Some of them come after work, others come from far distances. When class is over, some of them travel all the way home to make it for taraweeh prayers after breaking their fast, sometimes while still on the road. These are smart, dedicated kids and they won’t drop out, inshAllah. Tough luck for those aid companies”
... I smile. We continue walking. I attend the photoshop lesson. He’s right. These kids are smart, mashAllah ... and mostly, it’s very obvious that they want to learn.