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 There are many factors that pose significant risks to the environment in Al Walajah village. Because of this, the Environment unit at Lajee Center will continue working in the village from the 1st of October, 2017 until the 29th of September 2018. This project is funded by 1for3and Palestine foundationin partnership with the Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS)and the Environment Unit of Lajee Center.

 Due to the Israeli control over water sources and distribution in the village and due to the fact that much of Al awallajah is located in area C, Palestinians are restricted from doing any development in the village. This creates many challenges on improving the water quality in the village. One of the major challenges is the leek of the swage to the water network and cistern. The people in Al waalajah are not allowed to build infrastructure network for the swage waste. This forced the people to rely on cesspool to collect the sewage some of these cesspools overflowed and leaked to the water sources

Throughout the program, different activities will take place each week with a variety of guests, such as artists, experts, and environmental specialists. The project will be documented and covered by the media, along with local journalists. There will be educational field trips, and lectures/workshops about recycling, cultivation, and water testing.

The main goal of the project is to greatly expand opportunities for Al wallajah youths to learn about solving environmental problems in the village through their participation in an education program. It will engage youth to address the challenges through local-scale and hands-on activities and practices, lectures and workshops from local and international specialists, and educational fieldtrips. The summer camp will include both participants in Aida camp and Al wallajah village and will hold environmental activities.

The participants in the project: in the first month, the coordinator of the project will invite 18 participants from the village; their ages range between 14-16 years old. Also, sometimes the participants will come from the Environment unit in Aida camp. The students in the UNRWA schools in Al Wallajah: there will be activities for the students to learn about and raise awareness for the environmental issues. The residents in Al Wallajah village especially the women: there will be activities for the participants that include the women of the village.

 

Last month, Lajee Center wrapped up the 16th International Summer Camp, which included 27 participants of ten different nationalities, including Britain, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Scotland, Ireland and the U.S.  

The rich camp, which lasted for 13 days starting 1 August, held various educational and recreational activities.

 

In order to learn more about Palestine, the participants went on field trips to different areas in the West Bank. They visited Al-Walajeh village, northwest of Bethlehem, where they met with a family whose home is threatened with demolition by the Israeli Occupation. In addition, the participants visited Kobar village near Ramallah and the old city of Hebron which is surrounded by extremist Israeli settlers who daily attack and assault the Palestinians there. 

 

The group also visited Defense for Children International (DCI) offices to learn about the rights of children in Palestine and the Israeli arrests against juveniles. To also learn about the prisoner's situation, the group visited Addameer organization for prisoner studies. In addition, they visited the biggest refugee camp in the West Bank, Balata camp, and Al-Najah national University, located in Nablus city, northern West Bank.

 

Other educational activities included lectures about the culture and history of Palestine, water situation, prisoner's lives in Israeli jails, and women under occupation.

 The participants also had Arabic language classes, visited cultural museums, media outlets, and resorts in Palestine. They attended documentary film screenings, and carried out volunteer work in the Lajee garden, where they installed water pipes and cleaned the garden.

 

To their part, the participants all said they gained important knowledge enriched their awareness about Palestine, with having the balance between intensive sessions and still having time to relax, adding that this program allowed them to understand the Palestinian experiences through being here and engaging with locals who resist the occupation every day.

 

Participants expressed hopes to return back to Palestine and meet with the friendly and generous people they have met and became friends with. They also expressed thanks to the leader of the program, Mohammad AlAzza, whom they said had brilliantly managed and coordinated all the activities along with the team of Lajee center.

 

Water Testing

The water testing program continues within the camp for E.coli and Coliform bacteria, through testing a source and at taps. In addition, the environment unit tests on request homes water within the camp in order to see if they are contaminated. They have found for example dead bird in the water tank so the unit informed the family that the water was contaminated. Then procedures were started to clean the water tanks, and post this water was found to be uncontaminated. Additionally, the environment unit has been asked to test water further afield, in towns such as Hebron in the AlAroub camp.


Furthermore the head of the Environment Unit, Shatha Alazzah has given talks on the water contamination and shortages, as a consequence of the Israeli occupation, to international students. Shatha has also spent the past 2 years compiling a comprehensive paper on the status of contamination of water in the camp and its origins and has then published a paper.

 

Rooftop Gardens

A new project from Arij organization (the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ) / Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable development in the occupied Palestinian territory and the self-reliance of the Palestinian people through greater control over their natural resources) thathas collaborated with the Lajee Center which has contributed seven greenhouses to the Aida camp. Each greenhouse is 4 meters by 3 meters. The families given the greenhouses were chosen according to surveys carried out, thus showing the people who were most interested and suited to having a greenhouse. Afterwards, surveys were carried out to better understand the needs of each family, where to better locate them and what to plant in each of them. The agriculture engineer then presented workshops about the cultivation of the greenhouses to the recipients. Additionally, the students of the environment unit helped to cultivate the seeds with families and maintain the growth of the plants. This gave the students of the environment unit a renewed interest and responsibility into agricultural cultivation as well as the needs of the community of the camp. Tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, strawberries, thyme, eggplants, peppers, onions, green beans and radishes were some of the vegetables planted. Whilst primarily the idea of the greenhouses is to promote a food security plan within Aida camp, the greenhouses also offer a way for residents to reconnect with the land. Traditionally, most Palestinian livelihoods were in agriculture. This aspect of their lives was forcibly taken away from them by the Israeli occupation. Therefore, the greenhouses and the growth and maintenance of vegetables gives residents a way to connect with their ancestry and celebrate their heritage. The project also aims at educating the community - the families and the students - about the importance of a balanced diet, about health and nutrition. In the face of the significant levels of unemployment in the West Bank and the lack of opportunities inside the camp, the gardens have shown to be a sustainable form of empowerment and resistance, a means to grow, rebuild and not only survive, but also thrive, even in the adversity.

 

 

Cultivation

The students of the environment unit have cultivated the garden of the Lajee center which is 10 meters by 7 meters with the help of international volunteers during the summer camp.  An irrigation system was put in place; the drip irrigation system was used in this circumstance. Then, different kind of vegetables such as red and white cabbage, onions, and cauliflowers were planted. The yield of the vegetable crops will be a very large, and the centre plans to sell the yield and then feed the money earned back into the Lajee center to pay for activities.

 

Workshops

In August, the head of the environment unit Shatha Alazzeh gave lectures to the women of the camp on recycling the rubbish from houses as well as organic materials and therefore how to reduce the pollution of the camp overall.

 

Volunteer Day Cleaning

During the Lajee Center Summer Camp in August 2017, Palestinian children gathered for two weeks in Aida camp for recreational and educational activities. Students attended lectures about preserving the environment and instructing them not to throw trash on the floor, which

h until now has been a very common practice amongst them. They were told that, during the camp, they would be fined if they were caught breaking this rule. Even though the fine was fictional, the children’s behavior changed significantly, and by seeing the results, they realized the benefits of maintaining a clean environment. Additionally, there was a volunteer day during the summer camp in which the children cleaned the camp, by collecting and disposing of rubbish and litter, along with the UNRWA cleaners. This resulted in the children enjoying a clean environment for the rest of the summer camp.

 

 

 

Mural

At the end of August, with the help of international volunteers, a mural was painted on a wall next to the Lajee Centre. An outline of a drawing was designed by an international volunteer and then the mural was painted by the children of the camp. The mural shows environmental issues that the camp faces, such as the control of water sources by the Israeli occupation, as well as the apartheid wall and consequential loss of land. There are also images which aim to insite Palestinian pride amongst the children, such as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly which symbolizes the quest and hope for freedom from occupation. Additionally, there is a tree with branches in the colors of the Palestinian flag which represents the link between nature, the land and the Palestinian people. Finally, this mural aims to remind the people of the camp daily about the work Environment Unit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Educational field trip

During the summer camp, the children also participated on an educational field trip to Al Makhrour. The trips give the students the opportunity to get to know the environment of their own country better, as well as to appreciate the diversity of plants and animals. The aim of this trip is to encourage the children’s interest in the environment, which will then hopefully result in the children becoming stimulated to protect the environment. They understand the links and connections between their actions and the environment as a whole, and become more aware and responsible. Lastly, seeing the beauty of the Palestinian countryside ignites pride in the children for their country.

 

 

 

 

Child Arrests in Aida Refugee Camp

Since the second Intifada and till this day, Israeli occupation has been targeting Palestinian children in many violations including murder, detention, and denial of freedom of movement. Since the last events in 2013, Israeli occupation forces have arrested approximately 500 Palestinian children. Today, 300 children are Palestinian children are imprisoned, 190 of them are under the age of 15.

Since the year 2013, IOF have arrested approximately 100 Palestinian children from Aida Refugee Camp, whether it was from their homes, alleys of the camp, or while on their way to school or Lajee center or garden, which is annexed to the wall and the 300 military checkpoint.

 Since its establishment in 2000, the Lajee Center has been involved in many recreational, cultural, social, artistic, and sports activities. The center now has 150 children who are permanently active in the annual and continuing projects at the center.

Lajee center is subjected to such violations at any moment, starting with the storming of the center or the garden, throwing gas bombs inside and outside the building, with children and employees in it. The building has been attacked several times, and many children have been injured over the years.

Three of Lajee's volunteers, Mustafa Budair, Omar Radi and Mu'taz Barak'a, have gone through this on 6 October 2016. They were arrested in the middle of the night for their presence near the ISraeli military base annexed to the camp the day before. During detention, soldiers asked why they were there, and the children responded saying that they go to their football training at the center, in addition to the Dabkeh dance training.  The children were detained and kept in prison for four days before finally being released without any charges. 

 On 5 June 2017, 14-year-old Mustafa Bedair was arrested from his family home at midnight. Mustafa is still imprisoned in Israeli jail , and is not allowed to contact anyone of his family or anyone outside the prison since he is in the investigation period.

Budair is an active member of the Lajee Dabka troupe and has participated in many local and national performances in the West Bank. He was expected to participate in representing the center and the Palestinian cause in the UK this year. He is one of the distinguished children in the Lajee Football team and had received many awards and honored for his ranking in football.

This story is one child's story, out of 2000 in Aida camp. Those children continue to suffer from ongoing violations and oppression by the Israeli occupation.

We hope that Mustafa and all the children are released from Israeli jails, and the children and their families are given their full rights without fear or suffering.

 

Music is perhaps one of the most important forms of human expression, and Lajee Center wants to give more opportunities to the children of Aida to explore this art. In 2017, the music unit will expand from 7 to 12 members, mostly students between the age of 8 and 12.

They will receive a total of four lessons per week, which means one lesson with a teacher or lessons in pairs. In addition, the restart of the choral troupe will be a big goal. This was made difficult in the past by the ongoing Israeli military occupation, right at the door of Lajee, but it will not stop our right to make music.

 

 

 

The music unit is now working with the choir, which currently has 10 members, to play and sing at the time. Now, they can perform two complete songs together- music and lyrics.

This right will be shown multiple times during the year. Five big performances will be held in the West Bank during Mother’s Day and Day of the Palestinian Child for example. Beyond Lajee Center and Aida Camp, it is important to show ourselves to the world. In 2017, we remember the 100th year since the Balfour declaration, and a cultural tour to the United Kingdom would be very fitting. Last year, 3 members already went to several cities in England, Ireland and Scotland to play their music in front of the local people.

Raghad Ajarma, a thirteen year old oud player, was very happy with that trip: “Our last performance in Aberdeen was wonderful. People were very interactive and greeted us at the end of the performance with a huge round of applause. We could not be more grateful. After our performance, we were given a new oud as a gift.”

Growing of the unit

The expansion and plans are no surprise if you look how the Music Unit has grown since its foundation. As of last year, there are 8 committed musicians who attended the unit since the first year, including 2 oud players, 2 violin players and 2 qanun players. With the expansion, there will now be 3 violin players and 5 qanun ones – while oud stays the same number. This shows that traditional Palestinian instruments are an important objective for Lajee Center as to preserve the culture of Palestinian and Middle Eastern music genres.

 

 

Batoul Hammad, 14 years old, tells why the Music unit is so important: “I am so glad that I can continue to take music lessons at Lajee center. I can play music with other children and practice playing national songs that I could only hear in the past. Now, I can feel that music. I can play it in front of large audiences as well. It makes me feel happy and special.”

Lajee Center is pleased to announce that Lajee’s bilingual children’s books, The Boy and the Wall and The Aida Alphabet Book, are available for order online in the United States through Middle East Books! These bilingual books were created by the youth of Lajee Center to reflect a bit of Palestinian refugee lives.

 

A new review of these books from the journal Rethinking Schools calls The Boy and the Wall “poignant and poetic.” The review concludes, “taught sensitively, young children can think about hard issues. These books are valuable resources.”

 

For purchase of The Boy and the Wall: https://www.middleeastbooks.com/collections/books/products/boy-and-the-wall-by-youth-at-lajee-centre-in-aida-refugee-camp. (If link does not work, cut and paste it.)

 

For purchase of The Aida Alphabet Book: https://www.middleeastbooks.com/collections/books/products/the-aida-camp-alphabet.  (If link does not work, cut and paste it.)

 

 



AT END OF THE BOY AND THE WALL POST:

 

The Boy and the Wall is available at Lajee Center in Palestine or for order in the United States via Middle East Books: https://www.middleeastbooks.com/collections/books/products/boy-and-the-wall-by-youth-at-lajee-centre-in-aida-refugee-camp. (If link does not work, cut and paste it.)

 



AT END OF AIDA ALPHABET BOOK POST:

 

 

The Aida Alphabet Book is available at Lajee Center in Palestine or for order in the United States via Middle East Books: https://www.middleeastbooks.com/collections/books/products/the-aida-camp-alphabet.  (If link does not work, cut and paste it.)

 

Lajee center held the meeting of the Ordinary General Assembly for the seventh session in its headquarters in Aida camp.  The meeting was attended by thirty members of the General Assembly.

 

 

The former head of the administrative body, Majida Al-Azraq, presented the administrative report, which was unanimously approved by the General Assembly.

 

The financial auditor, Mr. Mustafa Aweis, presented the financial report for the fiscal year 2016/2017, which was also approved.

 

Members of the General Assembly emphasized the Center's plans and their development through various programs.

 

The former administrative body has submitted its resignation and opened way to organize the presidency of the meeting to conduct the elections.

 

 

Mr. Nidal Al-Azza, alongside freed prisoner, Khaled Al-Azraq, nominated themselves for the presidency.  Mr. Nidal Al-Azza was endorsed as chairman and Mr. Khaled Al-Azraq was endorsed as a member.

 

Nine people were nominated for new posts and won by acclamation. After the approval of the new administrative body, the commission met and divided the positions as follows:

 

 

 Name

 

Position

1.     

Nash'at Nafez Rashed Al-Jawabra

 

Chairman of Management Board 

 

2.     

Samer Ibrahim Mohammad Aweis

 

Deputy of Chairman

 

3.     

Mohammad Hamdan Ibrahim Al-Dibs

 

Treasurer 

 

4.     

Sabreen Mahmoud Thiab Asad

 

Secretary

 

5.     

Abdul-Fattah Yahia Abdul-Aziz Daajna

 

Director of activities

 

6.     

Miras Nidal Mohammad Al-Azza

 

Public Relations & Media

 

7.     

 Rania Nabil Mahmoud Rumi

 

Women Affairs

 

8.     

Jamal Yacoub Mohammad Hammad

 

Member

 

 

                                                           

9.     

Rasha Walid Mohammad Al-Ajarma

 

Member

 

 

Music is perhaps one of the most important forms of human expression, and Lajee Center wants to give more opportunities to the children of Aida to explore this art. In 2017, the music unit will expand from 7 to 19members, mostly students between the age of 8 and 12. They will receive a total of four lessons per week, which means one lesson with a teacher or lessons in pairs. In addition, the restart of the choral troupe will be a big goal. This was made difficult in the past by the ongoing Israeli military occupation, right at the door of Lajee, but it will not stop our right to make music.

 

 

This right will be shown multiple times during the year. Five big performances will be held in the West Bank during Mother’s Day and Day of the Palestinian Child for example. Beyond Lajee Center and Aida Camp, it is important to show ourselves to the world. In 2017, we remember the 100th year since the Balfour declaration, and a cultural tour to the United Kingdom would be very fitting. Last year, 3 members already went to several cities in England, Ireland and Scotland to play their music in front of the local people.

 

 

Raghad Ajarma, a thirteen year old oud player, was very happy with that trip: “Our last performance in Aberdeen was wonderful. People were very interactive and greeted us at the end of the performance with a huge round of applause. We could not be more grateful. After our performance, we were given a new oud as a gift.”

 

 

Growing of the unit

The expansion and plans are no surprise if you look how the Music Unit has grown since its foundation. As of last year, there are 8 committed musicians who attended the unit since the first year, including 2 oud players, 2 violin players and 2 qanun players. With the expansion, there will now be 3 violin players and 5 qanun ones – while oud stays the same number. This shows that traditional Palestinian instruments are an important objective for Lajee Center as to preserve the culture of Palestinian and Middle Eastern music genres.

Batoul Hammad, 14 years old, tells why the Music unit is so important: “I am so glad that I can continue to take music lessons at Lajee center. I can play music with other children and practice playing national songs that I could only hear in the past. Now, I can feel that music. I can play it in front of large audiences as well. It makes me feel happy and special.”

 

 

 

Around 1,600 Palestinian political prisoners have entered their 22nd day on hunger strike today. The ‘Freedom and Dignity mass hunger strike’ started on April 17 on the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners Day to demand better treatment in Israeli prisons.

Two members of Lajee Center, Marwan Fararja and Anas Nasrallah, have been taking part in this open-ended hunger strike since the beginning. There are eight other political prisoners from Aida Camp taking part in the hunger strike, Mahmoud and Nasser Abu Srour, who have been in Israeli jails since before the 1993 Oslo Accords; Monjed Abo Aker; Hazem Abo Aker; Ashraf Abu Srour; Ibrahim Abu Srour; Ali Abu Srour; and Khader Abu Khudeir. Following their decision to forgo food, they were moved to isolation, like many other hunger strikers. Lawyers and families have been banned from visiting them. After 22 days without food, the physical consequences of the strike are severe. There is no more hunger; instead, prisoners are in extreme pain, suffer from difficulty standing, severe dizziness, weakness, loss of coordination, low heart rate, and even cognitive impairment and loss of vision.

Marwan and Anas, together with the other 1,600 Palestinian political prisoners, are fighting for freedom and dignity, and civil society has mobilized across Palestine to show solidarity with the hunger strikers and their demands. It is very important for international civil society to also show its support and solidarity, and to put pressure on Israel to put an end to the ongoing violations of Palestinian political prisoners’ basic rights.

Palestinian political prisoners started this campaign, but for it to be truly effective we must all mobilize. It is time to stand with the hunger strikers, for the freedom and dignity of all Palestinian political prisoners. They have turned Israeli prisons into centers of resistance, now civil society around the world must follow and support their demands, raise awareness, and express solidarity.

Lajee Center on Sunday afternoon hosted around 1000 locals and internationals in Aida camp in a National Festival to revive The Palestinian Prisoner's Day, to remind Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails that they are not forgotten and honor their families.

 

Every year on 17 April, Palestinians hold a national day to honor thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Currently, there are about 6,500 political prisoners in Israeli jails: 500 of them serving administrative detentions, in addition to 300 children and 61 females.

 

Israeli Occupation currently imprisons 77 people from Aida refugee camp; including 22 children aged 12- 18 years.  This festival aims to remember the children in particular and lift their spirits, especially since the children are deprived from their simplest rights of freedom and childhood, and are sent to military courts, subjected to ill-treatment, beating and investigation, against all international laws and without a lawyer. Since 2014 and till this day, Israeli occupation has been carrying out flagrant violations of children’s rights on a rising trend.

                       

The festival not only commemorates prisoners, but also those who were deported or banned from their own homeland, in addition to nine Palestinian martyrs who are detained in Israeli refrigerators since the start of the third uprising in October 2015.

 

 The festival hosted families of Palestinian prisoners, including the mother of longest serving prisoner from Aida, Nasser Abu Srour, who is charged with a life sentence. One of the speakers as well was the sister of martyr Abdul Hamid Abu Srour. Israeli authorities have been detaining his body in refrigerators for one year now.

 

The ceremony was revived by singer Qassem Al-Najjar, who is known for his popular patriotic songs, while the audience chanted along to his music. The Lajee music unit also played patriotic music to the crowd, which contained children and also elders, hoping to free all of the Palestinian prisoners from Israeli detention.

 

The next day following the ceremony, around 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have started a collective hunger strike lead by imprisoned MP and leader, Marwan Barghouthi, protesting the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) policies and oppression, especially regarding family visits, medical care, prisoner’s needs, moving prisoners arbitrarily, and other reasons. 

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