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Across Borders
By Evelyn and Gregg - 23 Sep, 1999

Page 5 of 5

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For the next hour, Jamal appointed another boy from the center to lead us around the camp to take pictures. He was an extremely gentle kid, also part of the dance troupe going to America. He brought us to the boys school, of which a portion had collapsed only days ago and was therefore closed off. It was constructed in 1952 and though people warned that the building was unsafe, no one paid heed or was able to do anything about it. Adjoining the damaged area of the building is the girls school—newly constructed a year ago, but still not large enough to accomodate the number of students. Both schools have two shifts of classes with class sizes each of 40 students.

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We saw many murals as we walked—one repeatedly was the the outline, in red, of a young boy's face and Arabic scribbled next to it. Apparently this boy was the youngest to be 'sacrificed' and served as an emblem of their struggle. Others were more elaborate, scenes of a young married couple behind a wire fence, wishing to return to their village. We covered most of the area of Dheisheh as we wandered back up the hill to IBDA. 10,000 inhabitants lived in an area of one square kilometer.

The rest of the afternoon we worked inside in the IBDA computer room, Gregg helping to get a guestbook working on the Dheisheh camp website. We came back the next day, Gregg and Jamal working on a BBS installation to add to the site, and I, capturing images we shot the day before for future use at the center. Throughout the day, children, sometimes packs of them, would rush in excitedly to use the computers. One group was visiting from a neighboring camp, hoping one day to have their own computer center.

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Mostly I saw kids playing computer games. Boys liked driving games but some went online to webcam sites in search for images of cities they'd only ever heard about. A few searched diligently for images of their idol, the Brazilian football star, Ronaldo. A young girl sitting next to me was using a children's Arabic language/vocabulary program, eager for me to learn along with her. From her, I finally learned the meaning of the word 'ahram' (pyramid)—a word I'd been seeing repeatedly since Egypt.

Jamal said learning the potential of a new tool takes time, especially when the tool is as conceptually revolutionary as the Internet for kids who have never even left their one square kilometer of 'home'. But with the cultural exchanges through IBDA and the exposure to Internet and computer communication at a young age, these kids hold the key to the future of their people. I only hope that peace persists to give them and their children a chance to meet their futures.

Adam Hanieh can be reached at: Across Borders

Bir Zeit University

Dheisheh Refugee Camp




Across Borders
  Right of Return
  The Intentional Tourist

  New York
    New York City
  West Africa
    The Gambia
Middle East
  Palestinian Territories
    Eastern Anatolia
    Central Anatolia
    Pushkar Fair
    Madhya Pradesh
    Uttar Pradesh
    West Bengal
    Sikkim & the NE
    (Rep. of China - Taiwan)
  USA - San Francisco, CA

"If you stand, stand. If you sit, sit. But don't wobble!"
-- Zen Master Ummon
  © 1999/2000 ~ All vision is blurred..