28 September 2009
UNRWA’s Blue Balloon mobile, stuffed with music, a slide show, games, posters, drinks, volunteers, scores of good will and, of course, hundreds of blue balloons, wound its way through the Hebron hills in the southern West Bank to share the commemoration of UNRWA’s 60th anniversary with hundreds of children from the Fawwar refugee camp last Saturday, 26 September. It was also a chance to reinforce the message of UNRWA’s Educational Recovery Plan which will have, as an integral part, Saturday Fun Day activities, to which this was a fun-filled beginning.
The show started with a cheerful musical performance by the renowned Palestinian children’s performer Omar Jalal whose songs about the freedom of birds to fly over all obstacles soon had his rapt audience jumping in the seats and joining the contagious chorus of song.
This was soon followed by scores of volunteers from the Palestinian Youth Forum, Sharek, engaging the kids in playful activities and face-painting, with lots of unexpected results.
The main event of the evening, according to UNRWA’s organizers, was the showing of the six-minute slide showing taking the young viewers through six decades of archival photographs depicting UNRWA’s presence in the lives of Palestine refugees from 1948 until today, with the Blue Balloon representing UNRWA. This was followed by the showing of the 30-second animated clip on UNRWA at 60, again featuring the Blue Balloon as a main protagonist in the past six decades of refugees’ lives.
These events climaxed with the reappearance of Omar Jalal and the symbolic release of 60 helium-filled balloons into the night-sky over Fawwar Camp to raucous applause and cheers from the young crowd.
However, if asked, the children would certainly have agreed that the main event for them came when the volunteers opened the doors to a classroom and started distributing hundreds of blue balloons, sticker posters of the continent of Europe donated by the European Union and a cartoon poster depicting the number sixty adorned with images of refugee camp life to be coloured in. Nobody left empty-handed.
"Blue Balloon Mobile" events have been organised with the generous funding of the European Union, which has contributed significantly toward the implementation of these activities. Other donors include the Hoping Foundation, the National Beverage Company, Bailasan Design and Zoom advertising. Sharek Youth Forum is the implementing partner.
The "Blue Balloon Mobile" will continue to make its way across the West Bank and will bring Blue Balloon fun to 18 refugee camps and Ar Ramadin with the participation of approximately 4,000 boys and girls. UNRWA will include additional children from similar age groups in other activities in the near future. The campaign is carried out in conjunction with UNRWA’s Educational Recovery Plan (ERP), which aims to improve education in all of UNRWA’s schools in the West Bank under the motto "towards a brighter future".