Tuesday 28 April 2015

The Al Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Center, repression and resistance movements in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem.

Aida is a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem in central West Bank. There is a separation wall on the outskirts of the camp which separates it from Jerusalem. Aida camp was created between 1948-1950 after the Nakba. Bethlehem to Jerusalem is 8 miles away but the wall separates people and does not let them through. You can go to Jerusalem illegally easily so security issue cannot be the case it must be an excuse.

Aida refugee camp is under the Bethlehem governance. It contains 6000 people living in 1km area. Also it Is the second largest in the west bank, Déjà camp being the largest. Furthermore it is estimated that Beit Jibril camp contains 1000 people.

Al Rowaad and the beautiful resistance in the Aida camp.

Al Rowaad, a Cultural and Theatre Center was created in 1998 to give the people in the refugee camp a chance in life to create a better future for themselves. This is so kids who would otherwise not have many activities to do and would usually throw rocks over the wall and at soldiers for example.
The Al Rowwad center began to establish an emphasis on a non-violent resistance in 2008 by Palestinian volunteers. The Al Rowwad center uses arts for example theatre and dance to create social and long-lasting change within the community. The organization focuses on children and parents to continue the cycle of a long lasting change within the community that is non-violent and uses art to give the people a voice.

If a child throws a rock this gives the Israeli soldiers what they want and they can respond with violence but if a child uses art this can be their voice which speaks to people about their struggles. It can also give the child a better future as he/she can become a dancer, actor, painter or singer and there are many more opportunities and they can teach others about the occupation of Palestine as they travel.

Firstly a drama group was formed at Al Rowaad then other activities followed such as the women’s society was created, if the women did not have education she would not find a job so they will be educated in the center.

There is an education department which began during the second intifada, activities here which include different language classes being taught in the center, such as French and English.
Those working for the center made a film documentary about the camp showing life through the eyes of those living there. Also there is an environment department at the center which is also beneficial to camp residents.

Palestinian Arabic history is often deleted and confiscated or it is suddenly Israelis such as falafel which the Israelis are saying is theirs. This is a big problem and people are determined to maintain their heritage and identities. This center can provide means for people to continue their culture and express themselves through art such as Dubka dancing.

Recently the United Nations and the Israeli authority have begun to stop helping the camp; they used to provide more finances among other assistance.

The Al Rowwad center had a campaign called the welcome to Palestine campaign. Here the UN is responsible for water, healthcare and food. They come every 6 months to assist 3 families only and this is not sufficient and will not be enough to create a better future for those in the camp. US Aid, France and the United Kingdom help to fund the center. Saudi Arabia also gives the UNRWA support each year for the Palestinian people.

The occupation of the west bank affects the camp via continual shootings of the children here to keep control of camp residents.

Conditions in the camp include some of the following:

- Water can be cut off at any time and it comes only every 20 days and it goes very quickly since people have been waiting for 20 days.

- It is not definite that wages will be paid.

- Aida refugee camp went from area A to area C so the Israeli soldiers can enter the camp at any time and take control.

 Palestinians are not using guns it’s the settlers who are always armed and the Israeli soldiers. The Palestinian police also have guns but they don’t have bullets, the Israeli authorities say is for ‘security’.

- The Israeli soldiers dig through houses like moles to get rid of the privacy of houses and snipers shoot water canisters for target practice, there is already a lack of water for residents.

- The separation wall here was created in 2003 and it began with mesh wire fencing and the stone wall was completed in 2006.

Aida refugee camp entrance in Bethlehem: The key above says to the Palestinian people know that they will return one day to their country, it is known as the key of return.

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