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Sada, living in Dheisha, 120 years old

Contributed by Arab Educational Institute on 19.05.2008:

ONCE THE LAND WAS BEAUTIFUL

Interview by Jane Toby

Salaam Aleikum.

My name is Sada. Sada means happiness. My father said “If my wife will bring a girl, I will call her Happiness.”

I am 120 years old. I live in Dheisheh Refugee Camp near Bethlehem. When it rains, the house is full of water.

I was born in Turkey. My father used to fight with the Turkish army. He ran away from the army. I wanted to be with my father so he took me with him and we came to Palestine. I was twenty years old. We were walking on the bodies of dead people as we came to Palestine. ine.

In Palestine, we farmed a small piece of land. We seeded it, we planted it. When it rained, the plants came. We harvested the plants. We used to sing the song of the wheat while we were harvesting.

We had animals. I used to milk the cows and sheep. I cooked the milk and everyone liked it.

We were simple people. We lived in Ramla, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, ‘Ishwa, ‘Islin….. We were under the rule of Britain. Now the land is with the Israelis.

The Jewish came after us. They used to come and catch any Palestinian they could. They used to come and shoot us with bombs. We ran away and left our homes. I was married and had 5 kids.

All the people of the village ran away at night. We ran to a school. We spent one night at the school. In the morning, a young man came from the village. He was a collaborator. So we ran away from the village.

They made a camp for us in Dheisheh. This place used to be planted with trees. They cut all the trees so we could have a place to live. The UNRWA came. They brought tents and gave them to the people. We did everything in the tents.

I worked as a seamstress. People would bring me fabric. “I can make trousers for you, I can make a shirt for you.” The Bedouin women had beautiful dresses, like English queens. They were many colors and many layers. Many women came to me and I made this dress for them.

Once I was strong. Now I sit here like a child. I have grandchildren. My grandchildren bathe me and dress me. They do everything for me.

Once the land was beautiful. Now it is no more.

Interview: Dheisheh, 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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