Friday 30 August 2013

From Worcester News

PALESTINIAN children, including a teenage boy who claims to have been tortured by soldiers, have enjoyed a visit to “beautiful” Worcester.
Mohammed Jaffal, aged 14, from the West Bank, says he was tortured by Israeli soldiers after they broke into his house in the middle of the night. Mohammed, one of 16 children from Palestine to visit Worcester, described how he was seized by the troops, bundled into a jeep, taken to a military compound and blindfolded with his hands tied behind his back, beaten and forced to kneel down on stones for half an hour.
However, Mohammed and the other young musicians from the troublespot have had a chance to sample a more carefree life, visiting the Hive,Worcester Cathedraland the Guildhall where they met the city mayor Pat Agar. Drummer Mohammed and his friends played in a concert at St George’s Catholic Church, including Palestinian and British songs. During the day they played football, talked about their experiences, met other children from Britain with a very different way of life and were able to connect with each other through music, drama, the arts and sport.
Mohammed, speaking from the Horizon Centre in Midland Road, Worcester, which hosted part of their visit to the city, said: “Everything is different here. “There are so many wide open spaces for me to play. It’s so green. It is beautiful.”
The visit is part of an initiative called Common Ground by the Worcester Palestine Friendship group and is organised by the Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association (CADFA). Seven children from Gaza, who attend a centre called Never Stop Dreaming, were not able to fly to Britain because of ongoing unrest in Egypt, although they may be able to travel here within the next six months. During the project, which comes to an end tomorrow, the children will able to mix with others from Knighton, Aberystwyth, Worcester, Oxford, Northampton and London.
Nandita Dowson, director of CADFA, said: “They were able to go on the hills and go into rivers. “The thing that strikes the Palestinians is people’s freedom to move and go wherever they want. They do feel imprisoned. This is their first taste of freedom. Just going paddling in a river is heaven for them.” Their homes in the West Bank are divided from Jerusalem by the controversial Separation Wall and they are now cut off from the Dead Sea, the Mediterranean and the River Jordan.
Abdul Wahab Sabbah, Abu Dis co-ordinator, said the children here were of a generation born under occupation who could not remember a time before the wall had been built.
He said the experience for the children had been “unbelievable”. He added: “It is a lifetime’s journey for them.”
Coun Jabba Riaz was also there to welcome the children. He said: “It’s good to see the children are getting a taste of freedom.”
The centre, which is run by Worcester Community Trust, gave each child a T-shirt and a football.

Thank you for the thank you - It was a pleasure.

I would like to say thank you for every one in cadfa for their efforts ....for the look of happiness I Saw in Hakeem,s eyes , for the taste of freedom he has between our real friends there ....thank you again on his behalf and let me wish you good luck and Welcome to PAlestine

(this picture was from ANOTHER kids' visit to Britain)

Thank you Ghada :)

Glad you're home safely

Dear friends of ours in Palestine

**ilhamdullah la salamitkum**

Hear it was a hard long journey but you are all safely there. Hurray!

Hope you find your families well and get some rest now... We loved having you here and will stay in touch with you all.

More soon!  :) :)

from your friends across the UK

Aberystwyth - Knighton - Worcester - Oxford - Northampton - Waltham Forest and of course Camden :)

Good luck Carl

Carl from Worcester has included a picture of some of the Palestinian visitors in his entry to a photo competition related to Worcester cathedral.  This one is called 'Palestinian youngsters looking for the pink giraffe.' Yes apparently there is a pink giraffe in one of the stained-glass windows.  Good luck, hope you win :)

Thursday 29 August 2013

Wednesday 28 August 2013

West Bank youngsters enjoy taste of freedom (from Worcestershire newspaper)

This article can be found here:

Things we want to remember (from the Palestinians)

the camp
People who helped us
the concerts
Kefaya band
the river
the nature
the stall
the friendship
Panpunton Hill

New things we found on this project (from the Palestinian kids)

the nature
the freedom
the cable car
someone flying on the water
the boat on the river
the plane
the tube
the flat fields (suhool, is that what was meant?)
the weather
no occupation
the sky here

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Waiting in Gaza

This isn't a picture of our Gaza visitors, but other people waiting at Rafah crossing hoping to travel. We gave up some time ago on the idea of bringing the Gaza children with this visit but as soon as this is finished, we'll get to work to see how else they can come. What a pity they haven't been here with us...

Palestinian visitors make bold statement...

Here's a bit from the Northampton Chronicle about the children's visit there (I think we should point out to the UK kids who get forgotten here that what is in the press is not always completely accurate...)

You can see it at
Young Palestinian visitors to Northampton have marched along Abington Street blindfolded and handcuffed, to highlight the treatment of children in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The demonstration on Saturday also featured street art and a free public concert at the central library, attended by the mayor of Northampton, Les Marriott.  
The young Palestinians are taking part in a summer camp and concert tour organised by CADFA, a London twinning association, and the Northampton event was organised by Northampton Al-Bireh (Palestine) Friendship Association.
Julia Bush, from the Northampton Al-Bireh (Palestine) Friendship Association, said: “The youngsters delighted a packed audience with their skills as singers, dancers and instrumentalists - as well as their excellent English.”

On the radio in Hereford and Worcester

Please follow this link to the BBC Iplayer for Sundays show:

Listen to the bit 1 hour and 17/18 minutes in... not all quite correct but that is how it goes...

Does anyone have links to the recording made in Knighton? (or any others??)

A beautiful concert at Rosslyn Hill

Special thanks to Camilla for all her work on the music, Charlie for taking part and coming all the way from Knighton, Al and Giuliano for amazing music, Haya for speaking - also Annika, Will, Andy for help organising, Mousa for carrying things and helping arrange the hall, Ibrahim and Mary for the stall... Thank you to Rosslyn Hill for letting us use that lovely place with the beautiful sound. 

And well done to all the young people: it was truly memorable :)

Lunch today

Twinning workshop and something shocking

These are some pictures from our twinning workshop this morning - We discussed what twinning is about (for us it is about human rights) and looked at some of the things that we do in the twinning clubs in schools in Camden that have links with schools in Abu Dis.

The question was, are these interesting and useful activities, and what suggestions do you have?

Activities included 

the questionnaire on Palestine in our book 'For Hammam' (people found this useful)
a checkpoint game (people found this useful and are thinking about other games).
letter writing
and our Palestine box...

We've put things in there that volunteers have brought us to show things about life in Palestine. It includes olive oil, zaatar, embroidery etc.


One group suggested some important things that needed to be added to show children in the UK important things about children's lives in Palestine.  
These included a small model of an Israeli solder because the military is an everyday part of Palestinian children's reality. And even more shocking, they said we should put in some
PLASTIC TIES (cable ties) which Israeli soldiers use as handcuffs when they arrest people including children. People started telling stories of how tight the soldiers pull them :( 


Central London from far and near...

Yesterday the group went to Hampstead Heath and saw London from Parliament Hill...
Later to Calthorpe Project where they met people from local youth groups, had another music workshop and also played football... And then to the river to see the middle of London in the evening...