Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dheisheia Refugee Camp

Today, we visited the Dheisheia Refugee Camp, on the West Bank, bordering Bethlehem. It was a very moving and challenging experience. I'll write more about the trip tomorrow, as it's late. But, I wanted to share photos.

Just a bit of background: The Dheisheia Refugee Camp came into being in 1948, after the state of Israel was created, to hold temporarily, those Palestinians who were displaced from their homes. It was expected to be temporary, only a couple of days or a week. The third generation of children are now being born in Dheisheia.

Dheisheia is 1 KM square, and 12,000 people live there (that's more than we have in Berlin, NH!).

When that many people live in such a small place, you can only build up. Check out how the levels are stacked. Also, buildings may only be built out of cement block so that the Israelis can bulldoze if they need to. I wonder how much weight the bottom levels can hold. There's no park space in Dheisheia, the kids play in the crowded streets.

Here's a close up of a building, so that you can see the construction.

There's very little open space. Life happens on the roofs. We could hear kids playing football (soccer) there, too.

Graffiti and art were everywhere. The text on this one says, "Stop the wall." The wall referred to is the wall that rings all of the Palestinian lands. You can't leave without passing through a checkpoint.

This garage art shows how the state of Palestine has shrunk over time.

Dheisheia is so close to Jerusalem; you can see it off in the distance in this photo. And yet, for the people who live here, it might as well be the moon. They have no documents. They can't leave the West Bank. They have no homes. For many, they have very little hope.

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