Palestine refugee youth unearth the history of their camp

15 March 2012

To prepare for the Engaging Youth conference and to provide context for discussions, we have gathered stories from our fields of operation about the work we do to engage young Palestine refugees throughout the region.

Engaging youth in Jordan

15 March 2012
Talbieh, Jordan

Ahmad Al-Jariri always knew he was a refugee from Palestine. But growing up in Jordan, he didn’t witness the Nakba (“catastrophe”) with his own eyes – the initial exodus of Palestine refugees from their homes and land in 1948.

He was born in Talbieh refugee camp, established in 1968 to accommodate an additional influx of Palestinians displaced by the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. Today housing over 7,000 people, the camp now also includes the children and grandchildren of these original refugees.

Learning across generations

To preserve this important heritage for the next generation, Ahmad and 50 other young refugees in the camp participated in the Palestinian Memory Documentation Project – an initiative to share knowledge between younger and older Palestine refugees. Interviewing seniors in the refugee camp, the youth transformed their oral histories into six documentaries.

“I inquired about the nature of their lives in Palestine, as well as the establishment of the camp,” Ahmad said. “It’s marvellous how much they still remember – the tiny details of their everyday life before the Nakba. No one can take this from them.”

To add a professional touch to the project, funding from the German Cultural-Social Fund (GIZ) provided the young filmmakers with workshops on film, audio, lighting, screenwriting, and other techniques to bring their stories to life. Through the same grant, a newly-established resource and knowledge centre for the refugee camp will include the films and other historical materials.

Saving a community’s heritage

Wafiyyeh Abu-Luz from the women’s programme centre in the camp managed the project and is proud of the results. “Now our residents, and anyone else who is interested in our heritage, will have the chance to see these films about our history.”

For those refugees who can still remember the founding of Talbieh, the project provides an opportunity to show others all they have managed to overcome over four decades. For young refugees, the project takes on a different meaning.

“I know more about my identity and history,” Ahmad reveals. “I am a different person now.”

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