Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WCLAC - One Month In

It has been more than a month since we’ve touched down in Palestine. The most astonishing thing so far has been seeing the unity that people display despite the obvious conflict. Meeting numerous Palestinians has altered my perspective completely from the image that the Western media portray. The common misconception of the Occupied Palestinian Territories being immersed in terrorism and violence is not at all what I’ve experienced. This is not suggesting that it does not transpire, I am merely stating that within many parts of the Occupied Territories most citizens live in peace and unity.

It is evident how nice people are, especially during Ramadan. We have been invited to countless iftars where we got to eat traditional Palestinian food, including Maklouba, Qatayef and of course Knafeh. As this is the first time for me being abroad without family during Ramadan, it was nice to break my fast with home food and company. During this holy month I was also extremely blessed to have the opportunity to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque and The Dome of Rock. Some Palestinians haven’t visited in over 20 years as their permits have been rejected countless times. This was so harrowing to hear, especially as I know how important it is to some Muslims to pray in the compound.

The Occupation does not only affect the rights of Muslims and Christians to pray, but also women in general, and this is combined with cultural idiosyncrasies of Palestine. Women face constant discrimination and working in WCLAC has made me realise how difficult it can be to live in a society where men are seen to be the ‘provider’. When visiting Tubas, we were able to talk to a social worker and lawyer who told us stories of women, as well as children, who were abused inside and outside of the home. Desolate feelings arose when listening to these stories, as not only does the Occupation play a major role in Palestinian lives, but internal community factors also have a substantial impact.

Since our arrival we have visited various places in the West Bank. Despite the challenges faced by Palestinians, their positive attitude reinforces their peaceful approach to life. We have had an ample amount of fun, visiting places including the Dead Sea, Akka and Haifa, which was purely picturesque. It was mesmerising seeing the views of the Ottomon ruins, the crystal clear beaches and the fruit filled souks (markets).  

We’ve still got a month left and I’m already dreading the thought of leaving. The people here have constantly said “Palestine is your second home” and I’ve now grown to believe it.

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