Fifty youth stories from Bethlehem and Ramallah
Contributed by Arab Educational Institute on 25.10.2013:
These are fifty stories written down this year by Palestinian youth from the Bethlehem and Ramallah areas. They appear now (summer 2013) on so-called Wall posters attached to the Apartheid Wall in Bethlehem around Rachel’s Tomb.
Arab Educational Institute
1. The Box
Two neighbors, Muslims and Christians, came together after Ramadan in a friendly atmosphere. During their feast days they were used to congratulate each other and share food. However, the Christian family received sad news. The mother, Sofia, told her friend Fatima: “The bank sent us a warning that they are going to confiscate our shop because we did not pay the bills. Our shop sales and income were not good and my husband has been ill. He does not know what to do. “ Fatima: “Oh, Um Mikel [mother of Mikel], why didn’t you tell me?” After ten minutes, the Muslim neighbors arrived carrying a box. Sofia opened it. “Gold bracelets!” “Take it. And take this,” as the family handed her 1000 Jordanian Dinar. “If I had more, I would give it to you.” No wall could separate them.
By Rawan, St. Joseph School – Ramallah
Christians and Muslims have been living together in this land for centuries. On a school day in February last year, a Muslim friend and classmate of ours, Haneen, felt dizzy. She got a headache and felt very tired. Before class was over, Haneen put her head on the table and fainted. Her classmates, both Christian and Muslim, tried to pick her up and take her to the school director, but were not able to do so. One of the girls rushed for a private taxi to take her to hospital. After two days in hospital, Haneen recovered. When she learned about all what happened, she was very grateful that her Christian and Muslim teachers and classmates had cared for her. It is a story like this that makes us proud of the compassion that flows among the people of Bethlehem despite the situation we live in.
By Hannen & Jumana,
Evangelical Lutheran School Bethlehem
One day I witnessed an accident. A young man riding a motorcycle hit a tree. My Christian friends and I ran for help. I called an ambulance and we stayed by him until he became conscious again. We recognized him and phoned his family, he was a Muslim. When his parents arrived at the hospital and learned about how we helped their son, they were really thankful. They praised God and said “Thank God that here in Palestine we are still like one family.” In Ramallah, Muslims and Christians live in freedom and peace with one another. I am willing to sacrifice and give of myself to others in my community. During our joint feasts we visit and greet each other and welcome each other with sweets.
By Marwan, a ninth grade student at St. George, the Orthodox Church School in Ramallah
4. First aid
In my Muslim family it has always been common to tell stories. A few days ago, my grandmother told me a story which I will always remember. Because of a curfew imposed by the Israeli occupation during the Intifada at the end of the 1980s, my father and his family were all at home. My father was at the time six years old and played outside. My grandmother cooked lunch. While my father was playing near the house, he fell and hit his head. My grandmother was so shocked that she lost her voice after she heard all the crying. My grandmother’s neighbor, a Christian nurse, heard what happened and came running out of her house to help my father. She carried my father to her house. After some time she was able to stop his bleeding and put bandages on his head. Without this woman’s selfless caregiving, my father would have lost his life.
By Ibrahim, from Beit Jala
5. The milkman and his donkey
Once a milkman from Beit Jala used to sell fresh milk while riding his donkey. Among his customers were the priests of the Mar Elias Monastery to the north of Bethlehem, an area which became part of annexed East-Jerusalem. The man was lucky enough to cross the Israeli checkpoint to sell his milk with his donkey without a permit. One day, the milkman arrived with his donkey at the checkpoint. Israeli soldiers asked, “Where is your permit and your donkey’s, too?” He answered, “You have been allowing me to cross to sell my milk for many years.” So they told him that his donkey could pass with the milk but he should stay at the checkpoint. The donkey went directly to the monastery, as this was its routine. The monks at the monastery emptied the barrels of milk, the donkey came back to the checkpoint and the Beit Jala milkman returned home. Everyone waiting at the checkpoint as well as the soldiers were astonished.
By Elias, from Beit Jala
6. Rolling down
During the second Intifada, my older friend was chosen to participate in the national basketball competition in the United Arab Emirates. He had to pass through a checkpoint east of Bethlehem in order to cross the Allenby Bridge into Jordan and take a night flight from Amman. To cross the checkpoint quickly, he decided to leave his car, carry his luggage and climb the hill nearby the checkpoint. When he reached the top of the hill, sweat dripping from his face as it was July, the soldiers saw him. They began chasing him and while running back he fell with his luggage from the top of the hill. He rolled all the way down – getting cut by rocks along the way- and ran back to his car. He waited for hours until he passed the checkpoint, then continued his long journey to Amman. Unfortunately, he missed the flight because of the delay, and lost the chance to participate in the tournament.
By ‘Alia, from Bethlehem
7. Laughing and mocking
During Christmas season in 2012, my mother and father were given Israeli permits to visit Jerusalem. While crossing the checkpoint, my father had to pass the metal detector. A few years ago, my father underwent an operation on his hip, and the surgeon had put metal plates in his hip’s joint. He had a doctor’s note to prove it, which he showed to the soldiers. While he normally passed without problems, this time soldiers started laughing and mocking each time the metal detector made a sound. My mother shouted at the two soldiers: “I want to see the commander who is in charge.” The commander came and she explained the humiliating situation. The commander apologized and asked my father, “Do you want to submit a complaint against the two soldiers?” My father answered him, “No, but I want them to behave well and treat people humanely.”
By Daisy, from Bethlehem
8. Praying on the alphabet
Once a little girl in Bethlehem went for a walk in the countryside. She lost her way and did not know how to get back home. She panicked and was afraid. After a while, she saw a farmer who asked her, “Do you want me to show the way back to your house?” The girl replied, “Yes, and I have been waiting for you to help me.” “How?” he asked. “I was praying.” He asked her, “You are a little girl, you do not know how to pray.”
She answered him, “I know the alphabet. I recited all the characters and I asked God to compose them into sentences and prayers to send me someone to take me back home.” The farmer was touched by her confidence and faith in God. Even when you are small, you can overcome problems by a strong faith, though the obstacles may look unconquerable – like this Wall.
By George, from Bethlehem
Last Christmas my family decided to go to Jerusalem as we got the Christmas holiday permits from Israel. My father was the first person to go through the checkpoint. The soldier asked, “What is your family’s name?”. My father answered, “Lama”. The soldier repeated the same question and my father gave the same answer: “Lama”. The soldier lost patience and kept asking repeating the same question. The soldier started shouting. People started crying and nobody knew what was happening. The captain of the checkpoint came in a hurry to investigate the issue. He questioned my father again, “What is your family name?” My father answered again in a very polite way “Lama”. After some moments the captain realized what the problem was. The word “Lama” in Hebrew means “Why.” In fact, a good question at those checkpoints.
By Mary, from Bethlehem
10. Suhur and Iftar
The doorbell rang. Muriel, my Christian friend, and her mom were there. She came to wake us up for the suhur [Ramadan early morning breakfast]. Muriel explained her coming early, “I did not hear your voice and was afraid you would not wake up for the suhur and this would keep you, my dear Lama, hungry throughout the school day.” Then my father invited my friend to share with us the suhur, “Please help yourself and share our customs in the same way as Lama shares and participates in your Christian feasts.” Muriel came with her parents to the evening Iftar [breaking the fast] meal and gave me a gift as she entered the house. It was a beautiful crescent. We all waited until the Ramadan calls for the Iftar. Then, we began to eat. We broke the fast with dates and carob juice, then we all ate. It was a wonderful evening filled with joy. For the moment we could forget about the occupation.
By Lama, Latin Patritacate School – Ramallah
11. Tree blocking the road
Three brothers graduated from high school in Bethlehem. After receiving their certificates they noticed that the religious education mark was missing. They asked the teacher and he answered them, “Come back tomorrow and I will give you the mark.” The three brothers walked home. On their way, they found a fallen tree blocking the road. The oldest two brothers passed by the tree and did nothing. The youngest brother began to pull it from the middle of the road onto the pavement. His two brothers started shouting, “What are you doing?” But he continued moving the tree away. By chance the teacher was walking behind the brothers and saw what the youngest brother was doing. He shouted to him in front of the other brothers: “The religious education mark for you is 10/10. Religion is also about the way we deal with obstacles like a tree on the street.” And, we can add, about the many other obstacles that block our roads and freedom of movement.
By Ali from Bethlehem, cousin of the three brothers
12. Rubber bullets
One month ago, fifty-two young people from my camp and I myself decided to stop the Israeli occupation forces who entered the camp looking for wanted youth. We blocked the road to the houses by putting garbage containers. The soldiers started throwing gas bombs. We threw stones back. Three of the soldiers fired rubber bullets. Thirty-six youth were injured. I was hit by three rubber bullets, one in my foot and two in the back. While they were shooting, I saw a woman with her three children, all wounded. We couldn’t manage to retreat and seek medical treatment. A 23-year old young man managed to throw a stone on an Israeli jeep, but was hit by a soldier in the face which fractured his chin. When the Israeli forces retreated, we all ran to a hiding place. Finally, an ambulance came and took me and the others injured to the hospital for treatment.
By Mahmoud, from Arroub camp
13. Pointing a pistol
When the second intifada started in 2000, the school program was interrupted several times. As a result I failed in the tawjihi, the matriculation exam. In the next year I repeated my class and scored 78 in the exam. I enrolled as a student at Al Quds Open University for four years. Throughout this period I both worked and studied. During my university vacation I went to work in Israel, but once a female soldier pointed a pistol at my head. It was winter and she made me stand in the cold for a long time. All I was doing was looking for a job to be able to continue my university education.
By Moath, from Bethlehem
My friend Adel is a poor young man from Bethlehem who has a son who suffers from liver problems and needs medical care. One day, Adel wanted to get an official permit so he could admit his son to a government hospital in the city. He went to the local health department and submitted the necessary documents. However, he was rejected. Adel tried to explain the urgency of his son’s case, but the man handling the paperwork did not listen. Adel was disappointed but after some thinking and hesitation, he gave the man some money as a bribe. Immediately this employee’s face and his behavior changed and he treated Adel differently. All the medical reports and necessary papers were signed without any trouble. Adel was happy because he was able to save his child but felt bad because he needed to bribe the man.
By Mahmoud, from Bethlehem
15. Born in Bethlehem
My husband’s cousin married a German woman. They have lived in Germany for thirty years. Every summer, he comes back to visit Palestine. Two years ago, he came with his wife and when they arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, his wife presented her German passport. She was treated with politeness and respect. When his turn came, he presented his German passport and the officer started interrogating him in a disrespectful manner. This was because his passport showed that he was born in Bethlehem. He and his wife both got very angry and nervous. He shouted at the officer saying, “Why do you treat me like an animal?” The Israeli airport authorities ordered him to return to Germany. They told him, “You can visit the West Bank via Amman, Jordan.”
Written by Baha, from Bethlehem
I rented my small house for a year to an American volunteer. He came to volunteer at the YMCA in Beit Sahour. Because of the visa period that Israel gives visitors, he was only able to volunteer for three months, then he had to leave for a neighboring country in order to renew his visa. He travelled to Turkey for four days and came back through Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. The Israeli authorities, after discovering that he was a volunteer in Beit Sahour and serving the Palestinians people, refused to let him go to the West Bank. They made him sign a document that declared he would not be able to return for four years. They ordered him to leave the country to the US within 24 hours. He was very angry about such bad treatment for no reason except that he was a volunteer at a Palestinian organization and working for the causes of justice, freedom and peace.
Written by Fareda, from Beit Sahour
17. Crying in despair
I remember what happened to my close friend. He was twenty-years-old and suffered from a heart problem. The doctors installed a pacemaker in his chest to regulate his heart. One day, he suddenly became very tired and didn’t feel well, so he went to the hospital in Israel. After some tests he was able to go home, but a few days later he became exhausted and very sick. His parents called an ambulance and they went to the northern checkpoint of Bethlehem in order to go to the hospital in Israel. All of his family members and friends, including me, were with him. But the Israeli soldiers did not allow him and his parents to pass because they did not have permits to enter Jerusalem. After a short time, he passed away at the checkpoint crying and shouting in pain.
By Adel, from Bethlehem
18. Israeli ambulance
I am a young Palestinian and I was born and raised in Beit Sahour, a small town outside of Bethlehem. Two years ago, I met a girl, a Palestinian refugee from Bethlehem. We married and she got pregnant. During her sixth month of pregnancy she started to have some complications and as a result, she delivered the baby three months early. Due to the complications, the baby needed an operation. My wife herself also needed to go to Al Maqasid Hospital in East Jerusalem for treatment. When we reached the checkpoint, the soldiers refused to let us pass, despite the baby’s critical condition. They asked us to call for an Israeli ambulance, but when it arrived, they did not allow my wife to accompany the baby. After a long and heated discussion, the soldiers allowed us all to pass. The ambulance obliged me to pay 250 shekels. In the end, we were admitted to the hospital.
By George, from Beit Sahour
During a dance party at a celebration, I was sitting at a table with a group of friends. A beautiful girl caught my attention while passing by my table. My heart started pounding, I went and asked my sister if she knew the girl. She said, “I don’t know her and even if I did I wouldn’t tell you.” She added, “Go ahead and introduce yourself.” After mustering up enough courage, I went forward toward the girl’s table. I approached her father saying, “Uncle, I came to you to ask your permission in order to dance with your daughter.” Her father answered me, “I have no objection.” At that moment, I became more daring and asked the girl to dance with me. She accepted. We danced together for a long time as if no walls and darkness existed.
By Francis, from Beit Jala
20. Blank check
Al Haj Abu Ahmad taught his grandchildren to be samid (perseverant) and stay in the land of new Walajeh, especially because his land is near an Israeli settlement. He would tell his sons and grandchildren, “I will give my life to this land, please take care of it after I’m gone.” When Israel began building the Wall, his property was an obstacle to their plans. The Israeli military could change the path of the Wall or buy Al Haj’s land. They offered him a blank check, asking him to put the amount he wanted for his land. He told them, “Even if you bring me all the gold in the world I would not sell my house and land.” The military felt that there was no choice except to change the track of the wall. Al Haj Abu Ahmad was victorious in the battle of sumud and perseverance. After a few months he bade farewell and passed away quietly.
By Tamer, from Wallajeh
21. In front of the Israeli flag
Five years ago, there were four friends who attended Hebron University. One of them was a Christian and the other three were Muslims. One day Israeli soldiers stopped their taxi on the Etzion checkpoint between Bethlehem with Hebron. The soldiers took the students’ IDs and the taxi driver’s keys and ID, and left the group waiting for half an hour under the hot sun. After a while a soldier told the group, “Go and wait in the taxi.” They went to the car, but nothing happened. One of the men asked the soldiers, “What is the problem?” The soldiers told him, “Go over there and stand in front of the Israeli flag… Do you speak Hebrew?” The young man said in English, “I don’t understand.” Another soldier came and said in Arabic, “Stay there until we call you.” He stood there in the burning sun for another hour. Finally, after hours of waiting the soldiers let them pass.
By Mustafa, from Doha
22. Torn apart
My house is close to Manger Square. In 2002, when I was 14 years old, I woke up at 4 AM to the sound of unfamiliar noises in our neighborhood. I got up and saw members of the resistance in the streets. I woke up the rest of my family. A few minutes later we started hearing sounds of explosions and bullets. Not long after the Israelis invaded, the resistance was surrounded and had to take refuge in the Nativity Church. Hours later, Bethlehem was announced a closed military zone. One day we heard someone knocking on our door. It was Israeli soldiers. They came in and made us all go into one room while they searched the house. They asked us if we were hiding any “terrorists.” They left our house completely torn apart. They repeatedly returned to search our home. We lived in fear, silence and sometimes hunger.
By Faris, from Bethlehem
Everyone knows Abu Ahmad for his strength and hard work as a rural farmer. He was bribed many times to sell his land, so it could be used to expand the settlement but he refused. His land is a treasure that can’t be bought with money. Abu Ahmad found Israeli soldiers waiting for him at the gate that was installed before his land. The soldiers mocked him daily, in hopes that he would give in and sell his land. But he keeps his chin up. Abu Ahmad started telling his sons about the land and how they must keep it. He looked at his land, at the crops and trees that are grown now and said, “This land, my children, is like a mother, it is the soul, give to it and it will give you in return. This land is all you have; it’s for you and for your children after you.
By a nephew of Abu Ahmed, from Al Walajeh
My name is Alaa’. I consider myself Palestinian even though I was born in Jordan and lived there till the age of 6. After the death of my father, I moved with the rest of my family to Palestine. The land, the weather, the people were very sentimental to me so, as a seven-year-old I decided never to leave Palestine no matter what. So, even though I don’t have the Palestinian identity, I consider myself Palestinian and I’m proud of it and I’m happy here. Despite the challenges in living here due to the Israeli occupation, I still consider Palestine the most beautiful country in the world.
By Alaa’, from Jerusalem
25. Best grade
When I applied for college to study Cinematic Art I was first not accepted. I could not eat or sleep. I called the professor and told him not to judge people before knowing them. Next day I was conditionally accepted. Then I found out that I had to pay my tuition in full, up front. In the past, I used to receive a scholarship from the Ministry of Prisoners Affairs. This time there was nobody to help me, but I managed. For my final graduation project, I had to film a documentary. I saw reports about the settlers’ assaults on the Palestinians in Hebron, and decided to make a documentary about it. When I told my professor he told me I was crazy. In fact, I got beaten and assaulted but this did not stop me from filming. I got the best grade in the class.
By Basil, from Bethlehem
26. Identity card
I am a female student from Jerusalem. On my way to my university in Bethlehem, I am always inspected by Israeli soldiers who guard the checkpoint at the entrance of Bethlehem. Even in the cold winter, students have to get off the bus and go through the metal detector scans and bag inspection. One day, a soldier questioned my identity card claiming that it didn’t belong to me, so she stopped me and started asking me in Hebrew about my name, my date of birth, where my identity card was issued, and so on. She wasn’t convinced that it belonged to me and I got embarrassed for being late at the bus, which waited quite a long time for me. My little story is just one example of how Palestinian students experience merciless things at the checkpoints.
By Rana, from Jerusalem
When I was a child, I was ignorant in the matters of life, and life wasn’t easy for me. My family went through many difficult circumstances as my father was diagnosed with cancer, and our applications for Palestinian identity cards were denied. We were trapped; we couldn’t move freely because of the Israeli checkpoints and because my father was sick and unable to provide and care for our family. I would often think about all these challenges and ask why they happened. I was so lonely and hopeless and was always so sad that all these things happened to my family, but could not understand why.
By Ghadeer, from Beit Jala
28. Green monsters
I didn’t call Israeli soldiers green monsters when I was younger. I just called them soldiers, but when I went to college, I noticed that everyone called them green monsters (because the soldiers always wore green uniforms) so I started to say it too. They used to come into the alleyway by our house, especially if they were looking for someone. They would come in with their big jeeps, and guns, and we were so afraid of them we couldn’t look into their eyes, we just would look away; we would always run and hide. One day when I was 6 or 7 years old, my siblings and I were playing in the alley, and the soldiers came in with a tank and their guns, and they pointed the laser of the gun at my younger sister’s forehead. We were so afraid, she was frozen, but the soldiers just wanted to make fun of us and scare us.
By Bassem, from Bethlehem
One summer, when I was young, my friends and I were bored, and there was nothing to do because it was during the Second Intifada [2000-2004], and we were not allowed to go anywhere and there was no electricity or water for the past 3 days. So we decided to go to a nearby school and use the pool there. We knew it was open, we just had to figure out how to get there. We called the school and the security man agreed to let us come swim. My mother did not want us to go; she said it was too dangerous. If the soldiers saw us in the streets they would shoot at us, so we had to sneak through the streets and hide in the trees. It took us a long time but we made it. We were so happy to forget about everything around us. We were just kids, and we needed some freedom.
By ‘Abed, from Bethlehem
30. Sneaking over
There was a small market close to our house in Bethlehem. During the Second Intifada [2000-2004], we could not go in the streets to buy food because of day-long curfews. We would sneak over to the nearby market, and send a bucket down on a rope, and call to the shop owner. He would put in the bucket what we wanted, and then we would take it and quietly smuggle it back home. In this way we could overcome the shortage of food and medicines which was faced by so many people in Bethlehem at the time.
By Elias, from Bethlehem
31. My parents’ bed
I used to be so afraid at night. I would wake up to the sound of shooting in the distance in Beit Jala, a city near Bethlehem where I lived, but I always thought it was right outside our house. I would shake my brother awake, but my sister would never wake up so I would carry her to my parents’ room and we would all squeeze into my parents’ bed. After awhile, my parents decided to put all of our beds in their bedroom, and then I wasn’t so afraid anymore. I thought that it was better to be together, in case anything happened, we would be together, and if we died, we would die all together.
By Faris, from Beit Jala
32. Afraid just like we are
I can still hear the sound of the jeeps of the soldiers echoing in the alleyway. Anytime we heard that sound, we would disappear and hide until the jeeps passed. One time, my friend and I were outside in the trees picking fruit. A jeep drove up to us and stopped, and the soldiers asked us for water. We froze, shocked that they were talking to us. We gave them water to drink and one of the soldiers was playing with a soccer ball with one of the other children. He said if his commander caught him being friendly with the Palestinians he would be in trouble, and that he was afraid of being caught, but he wanted to play with the children. My friends and I thought, “Wow, soldiers are just like us… they drink water just like we do, and they are afraid just like we are.”
By Amin, from Doha
33. Raining rocks
One peaceful autumn day, while we were sitting in our house we heard someone shout, “Open the windows and close the doors and get out of your houses.” We rushed out of the house and heard a loud noise like an earthquake. People started screaming. Suddenly I heard a crack and though the windows in our house broke, I told my sister-in-law, “I’m going to go see,” as I got up from under the tree where we sat. I looked in the sky and saw rocks falling like rain. One hit me in the back. If it wasn’t for my sister-in-law who pulled me back under the tree, the rock would have hit me in the head and I would have been dead. Later on, we learned that the blasts and the falling rocks were because the Israeli army was blasting the rocky terrain to prepare it for the separation wall.
By Amal, from Walajeh
34. Into the water
During exams in the seventh grade, my friend used to walk with me to school. On our way, we would review together. While walking one hot morning, my friend and I decided to stop at a spring to drink some water. While I was drinking water, I suddenly fell down in the water. My friend tried to pull me out but he couldn’t. So, he ran to call for help. Some people came and rescued me and took me home. There they discovered that I had been hit by a bullet and was bleeding. Immediately, they took me to the hospital. I was in a coma for two days.
By Amir, from Bethlehem
35. Standing up
I am a Palestinian young man from Artas on the southwest of Bethlehem. I used to work inside the Green Line of 1948. When I took the Israeli bus on my way to work, an elderly Israeli woman entered the bus. She looked for an empty seat but there were no vacant seats left and nobody offered her a seat. Her clothes were wet because of the rainfall and immediately after I saw her I stood up quickly. The woman looked at me and said, “Where are you from?” I replied,” I am a Palestinian from Bethlehem.” Then she quickly asked me, “Do you know that all the passengers on board are Israelis? I answered her, “Yes”. She then added, “But not a single person moved aside but you Arab Palestinians have more respect to the old people. Thank you.” I told her: “This is a part of our human values and education.”
By Fahmi, from Artas
I’ve been through a lot in my life while still a teenager.
I saw a man got shot right in front of me and
I saw an Israeli shooting at our house.
But I never stopped smiling and hoping.
I hope that Israelis and Palestinians will find a way
to live in peace,
and that there be no wall.
By Christie, from Bethlehem
I asked a lot of people in Bethlehem: do you have dreams? For now or maybe for in the future? And they all laughed at me and said, no we don’t dream.
I asked them why, isn’t it normal to dream and have a dream? No they say, dreams are for kids and for the stupid. We are realistic, dreams aren’t realistic.
For me it was strange to hear that, I always thought everybody has dreams and hopes and visions about the future. But then they say, yeah we dream but we don’t believe it.
We have dreams when we sleep but we don’t remember them.
We live in the now and live day by day.
By Raneen, from Bethlehem
Today I was walking through the streets and saw a young boy. The young boy was standing on a wooden board. I walked up to him and asked him what he was doing. I’m surfing he said with a big smile. I sat next to him and asked him why are you surfing? I want to become a surfer, I dream about it every night. I want to be on the ocean. Could you tell me your dream I asked him. He looked at me very strange but he told me his dream.
Every night I dream the same dream of being by the ocean. Taking my surfboard and running into the ocean. Feel the waves, feel the water, feel the wind. Seeing nothing but ocean, being free. Peddling through the water seeing nothing but ocean.
Then I wake up facing the wall.
By Adel, from Bethlehem
39. Getting out of here
Getting out of here, that is what I dream said a boy after the tawjihi [matriculation exam].
Why? Because I want to study in a foreign country. A specific subject? No, I just want to get out of here. There is no future here and when I study in a foreign country maybe I can stay there. Maybe build a future there. I don’t want to be locked up here with a degree but no job and no money. I want to go and have a better life.
Lots of young people want to get out of here, we see no future with the wall. Our parents are against our dream and want us to stay, but with the occupation we want to live in another country and be free.
By George, from Bethlehem
40. I want to be a soldier
I am a sixteen-year old girl and I want to be a soldier. There are women soldiers in other countries so why not in Palestine? But I can’t become a soldier, they won’t accept me as a woman, I’m afraid they will harass me and bother me.
But still I want to serve Palestine and make it a better place. I want to fight for our freedom and show everyone that women are strong and can fight for what they believe in. I would love to see other girls with the same dream join the military, make the military a place where women are welcome to join.
We are all part of Palestine, men and women.
So why can’t I fight for my country and for my people?
By Christina, from Bethlehem
41. Faded dreams
I just finished my university and I have my degree to become a doctor.
But that was not what I wanted to become in life.
I wanted to become an artist and inspire people and tell the story of Palestine.
But my parents didn’t see any future in that and I was forced to study medicine.
Now I have my degree but there’s no work.
I have lots of time now because I can’t find work.
I decided to pick up my faded dream and work on my art.
Finally I’m an artist.
By Hanna, from Bethlehem
42. First dream and the rest
Ruaa always dreamed of a world filled with love and compassion. She loved studying. Her father’s retirement payments got delayed. Her mother was determined to help her to stay in school, and started selling fruits and herbs to help Ruaa pay for school. One day, Ruaa was wearing a slightly different uniform, so the principal told her she will be expelled if it happens again. When she arrived home, she saw her parents in the cold collecting plants to sell, and all she could do was cry. Ruaa promised herself to study and repay her parents for all the hardships they have gone through. She attended university and she is about to graduate now. She still dreams of the demise of the occupation, and to live in a beautiful world filled with love and tolerance. Since her first dream came true, she believes the rest can and will.
By Leyla, a friend of Ruaa, from Al-Khader
I saw a kid of 8 years old drawing on the street.
I was curious so I sat beside him, he looked at me but he kept drawing.
He was drawing a grave of a young boy.
The young boy was sitting up in his grave ready to walk out of it.
Another boy, younger than the boy in the grave, was standing next to it.
He had a football in his hands.
At the other side of the drawing the two boys where playing football together.
I saw a tear running down the boy’s cheek.
I asked who the boy in the grave was and he answered, his brother.
He didn’t need to say more, his brother died and all he wished for was his brother to come back.
By Fuad, from Bethlehem
I wish I was an ant
Ants are hard workers.
They provide their own food and they take care of each other.
They encourage hard work and faith in each other.
They have a strong will to live.
I want to be like an ant and be strong, a hard worker, care taker
and encourage other people.
By Usama, from Bethlehem
45. Do you want. . .
Do you want freedom of speech?
Do you want freedom of movement?
Do you want justice?
Do you want peace?
Do you want to experience other cultures?
Do you want humanity?
Since I could think, live and breathe I think of my freedom.
I want to live, like most people in the world
By Hisham, from Doha
46. Summer school
My dream is to have a summer school outside Bethlehem.
Every time we have a summer school it’s inside these walls.
I just want to go outside,
be free and have lots of room to play.
Just forget the wall, forget our prison.
When I grow up I’m going to be a creator,
I hope I have the power to change the wall and create it into something else.
Something that is harmless, that doesn’t hurt people or imprison them.
By Adnan, from Bethlehem
How would it be, to be an animal.
To be a lion and hunt and kill.
To be a zebra to be hunted and killed.
To be a giraffe with a long neck that can see over everything.
To be a rabbit, playful, fast and funny.
To be an eagle and rule the sky and be free with no limits.
How would the world look like if we all turn into animals.
By Jamal, from Bethlehem
A holy city, a place where all kinds of people are welcome.
It’s my hometown, a place where I can relax.
A safe place, a place of religion.
A wonderful place.
A place I want to build my future, my better life.
Finalize my high school education and hopefully become a veterinarian.
Bethlehem is an open prison.
In my future it is a place of freedom.
A place known for its hospitality for everyone, especially tourists.
A place where people bond and talk and be free.
By Majd, from Bethlehem
49. Dreams amidst darkness
As a child, everyone cares for you; they wipe away your tears when you cry, hug you when you are afraid, and encourage you when you fall down. You grow up, develop dreams and ambitions, and chase after them, thinking your friends and family will support you. When you face obstacles, you try to solve them on your own. If you fail, you call out to family and friends, but your words can fall on deaf ears. You feel abandoned, none extends his hand to wipe your tears, embrace you, or encourage you. Thousands of questions hover in your mind: why did everybody abandon me? Is it because my dreams contradict their traditions and customs? And why do I stand by others even if my point of view is different from theirs? You become enraged, walking without a destination as if you are in complete darkness, encircled by a wall.
By Safa’, from Walajeh
50. Giving up on my first dreams
I finished last year of high school (tawjihi) with a grade of 94 out of 100. At the time I aspired to study law to defend the rights of the Palestinian people, especially women’s rights. However, my parents didn’t let me study law. So, I decided I wanted to study nursing, but again my parents rejected the idea because of the work shifts I would sometimes be required to do, as they do not feel that it is appropriate for a woman to work at night. Finally, I got frustrated and I gave up on my dreams. In the end, I studied social education because it is very disciplined, which is fitting for girls as it prepares students to be a teacher, and I like it. I believe I will be a successful teacher.
By Raneen, from Bethlehem