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Rose: Memory of Ein Karem

Contributed by Arab Educational Institute on 16.06.2008:

I was born in Ein Karem in 1934. My grandmother was born in Ein Karem. Ein Karem was a very old city where Muslim and Christian people lived. The Jewish people came in 1948. They were shooting. We left because it was dangerous to stay. I was 13.

We escaped in the morning. We went on foot because there was no transportation. We left everything behind. My brothers were babies and we carried them.

We rented donkeys. We put flour and sugar on one side of the donkey and on the other side, we put the oil. When the donkey walked, the oil spilled. It took us one day to walk from Ein Karem to Beit Jala. When we reached Beit Jala, the flour and sugar were covered with oil.

We found our way to the Salisian School in Bethlehem. The Salisians put up tents for every family on their playgrounds. They gave us water. The women cooked on their babour [burner fed by kerosene]. We did everything in the tents.

One day, the Catholic Father told us they needed the playground for the school. He gave each family money to rent a house. My family didn’t receive this money because my father could work and my mother went to UNRWA [United Nations agency to support refugees] to sew. I don’t know how long it took us to find a house.

Once we went back to Ein Karem to see the city but we couldn’t visit our home because the Jewish people were there and they prevented us. My mother wanted to see our furniture, our clothes and other belongings, but the women didn’t let her enter. They locked the door.

I went to school to the sixth grade and then I stayed home to take care of my brothers. I got married at 19. My husband had many jobs. He worked as a Jordanian soldier; a hair-dresser; a driving instructor. We sent our children to school. Some went to the university.

Now I’m living here in this house with my relatives. Each family has a floor. I stay at home because I have some pains in my hands. I don’t feel lonely because my grandchildren are nearby.

When I think about the past, I become sad. I live in the present and hope for the future. Life is gone. And everything is gone. If my family is safe and nothing happens to them, that is the important thing to me. My family is the important thing.

Interview: January 2008

Interviewer: Jane Toby from Catskill, New York, who worked for many years with Women in Black and Middle East Crisis Response, Hudson Valley, NY. Interview in cooperation with AEI.

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