California & Kansas Delegates Weigh In // August 1-17, 2009
From the Ibdaa Cultural Center in the Dheisheh Refugee Camp, to the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, to Hebron, the Old City, Beit Ummar, the Shufat Refugee Camp and remnants of the Lifta village in Jerusalem, to Qalandia and Qalqilia, to the Al r’ad Center and the Balata Camp – we have been immersed in the sights and smells of Palestine and Israel over the past week. Check out the Connections and Journey sections of our blog. We have made many connections already – deep and intense between Palestine and Turtle Island/Aztlan; bringing together youth in refugee camps together who don’t have the opportunities to travel much; serendipitously introducing our bus driver/olive farmer to a Palestinian fair trade organization that could export his product; and much more that you will learn about upon our return home.
For now, we have noted the similarities between the Palestinian indigenous experience and ours in the United States and Mexico – the massive agricultural destruction; the burning of lands, wreckage and deaths that precede occupation; land disputes; court entanglement; settlements; people having to work in settlements because roads/walls have cut through their lands and intentionally destroyed communities, families, infrastructure, agriculture, businesses… This week has been about learning and connecting. The week that follows will be about strategies for how to survive and thrive. We worked with the youth in the Balata camp to set up a blog to share their stories in Arabic: www.balatacamp1948.wordpress.com and with youth in the Dheisheh Refugee Camp to share their photos: www.tadamon194.wordpress.com. More to come!