Tuesday 25 March 2014

Blog 5: Students Interview

I have a regular conversation class with students from the local Al Quds University. The groups vary from week to week depending on their classes and availability. Over the last few sessions however a core group has emerged and we have been able to discuss Twinning more directly.  They would like to tell people in the UK about their lives here, and are happy to answer questions. Hopefully providing a perspective on life for young people in Palestine that goes beyond the usual media portrayal.

Today, I began by explaining the project and invited the students to pick a topic. They were keen to talk about the situation here generally of course, but I wanted to delve more into specifics. We settled on discussing the effect of the Israeli Wall, which I have blogged about before from my perspective. This is theirs:

“The Wall makes it much harder for us to visit Jerusalem, the beautiful, historical capital of our country. Of course it holds great significance to us as the site of the famous Al Aqsa Mosque, but is in any case a place where we can do much more than we can in the rest of the West Bank. Many people who can travel there do so to buy their clothes and shoes, or luxuries that are just not available elsewhere at the same level of quality.

“We all have green ID cards. These only allow us to travel in the West Bank. If we want to visit Jerusalem we require special permission. This means providing photographic ID and undergoing an application process. Sometimes it is quick, taking only an hour, but sometimes it might take up to a week to get our permits. This means that a trip to Jerusalem has to be planned many days in advance.

“Abu Dis is part of East Jerusalem, it is less than 2 miles from the Al Aqsa Mosque in the Old City, but because of the wall, travelling there can take over an hour. This is a problem not just for visiting Jerusalem for shopping or to see the sights, but for access to amenities too. Abu Dis does not have its own hospital because it used to use one just beyond the wall in Jerusalem. Now to travel there means obtaining a permit. The nearest alternatives are in Ramallah and Bethlehem, which take an hour or more to get to. Abu Dis does have a small medical centre, run by Al Maqasi hospital in Jerusalem, but it is not very good. The doctors are less qualified than those in the city and cannot handle serious cases. [One of the students] had an accident where he drilled his finger. He went to Al Maqasi for emergency care, but it was only when he was able to get to Ramallah that he received proper treatment. If his injury had been more serious, it could have been a serious problem.”

The students are keen to answer any questions anyone might have about their lives or who they are, so please feel free to ask anything and I will pass it on. 

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