2 October 2013
“Today was a very memorable day for my community,” said one mother, with tears in her eyes. “Thank God for you, thank God for making my child’s dream come true.”
The dream this Palestine refugee mother had for her children was a simple one: just a trip to the zoo. But their visit to the Qalqiliya Zoo – the only zoo in the West Bank – on 30 August was, in fact, an amazing experience for nearly 300 children, young people and their families from the Area C Bedouin communities of Khan al Ahmar, Wadi Abu Hindi and Abu Nwar. The local Bedouin volunteers, as well as the counsellors from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the YMCA, also couldn’t help but enjoy the children’s happiness.
One child couldn’t contain his excitement: “I finally had a chance to meet a real lion!” he said; many of the kids had only read about some of these animals. Later, they visited the zoo’s Shower Land amusement park and enjoyed the rides, which one young volunteer described as “an amazing experience.” Most importantly, as they enjoyed a day of relaxation and amusement with their families, the children got a chance to meet and make friends with their peers from the other communities.
Visiting Qalqiliya Zoo was a fitting way to mark the end of ‘Fun Under the Sun’, the UNRWA summer activities for the Area C communities. With several departments working together, and with financial support from the Government of France, the Agency’s Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP) had organized more than three weeks of activities, as part of its continued commitment to the protection and support of Bedouin communities affected by displacement from their lands and demolition threats against their property.