We are staying in Dheisheh refugee camp, which we have mentioned in our blog many times, mostly because we cannot stop talking about it. The place in so unbelievable, that it is hard to describe it, show all the feeling we have for it and present the atmosphere here.
There are many variations of the spelling of the camp name, depending who is addressing it, but regardless of this, everybody knows what we are talking about. People however have different reactions, when we tell them we are living here. Most of the people are surprised and they comment that living there is hard, but the locals, who know it the best, they are amazed, that we are having such a genuine experience of living in Palestine and feeling the vibe.
The camp was established in 1949 and was meant to be a temporary solution for around 3400 refugees from 45 villages west of Jerusalem and Hebron who fled during the war in 1948. Unfortunately, it is not just temporary. Now, after more than 60 years, there are around 15.000 people living on around 0,33 sq km, according to the UN relief and works agency for Palestine refugee in the Near East, (UNRWA), who provide services to the camp. During the time, the camp has evolved from tents to houses, streets, schools and some other basic services.
The streets in the camp are without names and houses do not have numbers. There are no mailboxes in front of the houses. The facades are covered with graffiti, mostly about the resistance, and with pictures of boys who have been killed in the camp – “martyrs”. The streets are paved, narrow, dusty and mostly very lively. Especially in the evenings and in the nights, when the heat is gone, children are playing outside, men are chatting and smoking and when passing by, they invite you in for a coffee.
On one side, this is a very difficult place, as life here can be more challenging than elsewhere in the West Bank, it is crowded and violence is very present in the everyday life. On the other side, it is amazing what the place has became, considering the situation- culturally vibrant, active and friendly. For us, this is where we feel at home. Every day we walk through the camp to our work, to the University building, that is at the edge of the camp.
With this post, we are trying to present the camp and our daily walk to work. We are not movie makers, but with this video we hope to showcase better how walking these streets looks like. We did not want to show faces of people, so we covered the camera whenever someone passed us on the street.
Find the video of our walk HERE.