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Odette El-Sleiby, Bethlehem
submitted by Arab Educational Institute

“I wonder which freedom I am looking for!”

I’m sending these words to my parents, brothers and my sister.

I’m the oldest daughter among seven. We used to live in Bethlehem in a very simple way. My dad and mother worked hard to gain our daily bread, since we are middle class. We have strong ties and close relations. We were grown up in love, support and care for each other.
I used to visit my parents’ house daily because they were living close.

Unfortunately after the second Intifada, our tragedy started.

My parents, two brothers and sister decided to emigrate to the USA because there was no work and the social-economic and political situation were bad. The Palestinians in general couldn’t bear these bad circumstances and especially Christian families emigrated. My family was one of them.

It is misery for me as now we are apart. From time to time when nice memories come to my mind, I start to cry because we all, brothers and sisters, promised each other to be close forever. Until now, whenever I think about them I feel down and frustrated, especially when I hear my mother’s voice telling how much she misses her homeland, her house and her relatives, especially me.

As for me, I can’t imagine myself to be apart from this Holy Land. Even my parents are always encouraging and pushing me to join them under the title of freedom… But I wonder which freedom I’m looking for! My roots are in Bethlehem... and my bright future is just here in this Holy Land. I have my Palestinian ID, relatives, my house and my land where the olive trees have such strong roots that no one in the world can uproot them.

My message to all Palestinians who are thinking of leaving their homeland is - be steadfast, be patient and do not to leave your land because it belongs to you and to your next generations.

Collected by Sumud Story House, Bethlehem
September 2009

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