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Seize the moment” – The Story of Nivine Sandouqa

Contributed by Arab Educational Institute on 20.05.2006:

Before moving to Oxfam-Jerusalem, Nivine Sandouqa participated in several of our youth activities and represented AEI-Open Windows during the Lenten campaign in Holland. We think that her story says a lot about what Palestinian youth experience.

“‘Seize the Moment’ is what I often hear people saying, and I try to “seize” it myself. I am 21 years old, who lives a rather strange and complicated situation. I live in Jerusalem. I am sure that everybody is familiar with the ongoing struggle that took and still takes place here; the struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians which is over land, power, independence, security, and nationality. But, as human as we are, we often ask ourselves what about the people who live there? How do they live? What do they think about it? As for me, I consider myself an extremely lucky person to live in such a place, and very proud of my deep love for Palestine. Still it hurts to live in such a situation where the abnormal becomes normal; the bloodshed, feeling alienated on your own land, and fear. Though my life is short I consider myself as a person who gained much experience in life and is strong enough to say that no matter what disappointments I face life goes on.

I studied in the best schools in Jerusalem for my parents truly wanted all the best for their children, and then I graduated with a degree in biology. During the four years which I spent in university, I knew that I wouldn’t be needing my degree in my future life, but still I didn’t change my major because I knew how proud my parents were. In my nature I seek peace and harmony, and for my deep love to Palestine I thought it would be the least to belong to some independent organization where I would benefit my country. That is why I volunteered in the Arab Educational Institute. I knew that by integrating in such an organization whole new opportunities would be available for me. I still remember how it felt when it I was chosen to present Palestine through the AEI-Open Windows in Egypt for the “Youth and Clash of Cultures Workshop”. I felt such honor and pride. I still participated in many activities of the AEI-Open Windows such as the “Read, Reflect and Act”. An activity which deals with religious issues, mainly concerning to get to know hoe different religions deal with a specific issue, afterwards, an activity would be carried out based on the ideas that were read in the Holy Books. I remember how close the members felt Christians and Muslims when we ate together after a long fasting day in Ramadan, or celebrating the 24th of December together. All differences were eliminated. I just wished that Jews would be able to share it with us one day. As the political situation got worse over the days, the suffocation also increased, I finished my studies and I thought that I had much experience and passion to work in an organization where I can still fulfill my dream in serving my country.

Unfortunately, I was faced with one disappointment after the other in not being able to find such a job. The thing is that due to the situation it was difficult for me to work in Ramallah because I wouldn’t be able to reach my destination on time due to the checkpoints. In Gaza, I think it is really impossible, and to work with the Israelis was much harder because I am not fluent in Hebrew, but most importantly I am a Palestinian.

I was chosen once more to present Palestine in The Netherlands. It was upon an invitation from the Cordaid, Vastenaktie, and Pax Christi to be in Holland during the Lenten Campaign. I will not deal with specific events that took place during my stay, but I can say that I feel secure to know that so many Dutch are really aware of the just Palestinian cause. I felt thankful for those who are feeling real solidarity for the Palestinians, and who support the AEI-Open Windows for all the opportunities it offers for the Palestinian youth who live in such an atmosphere of extreme suffocation and unemployment. I met many Dutch and others who share the same vision as myself, living in a peaceful land, where Israelis and Palestinians co-exist.

People often ask me why don’t you work as a teacher? Because I can become a biology teacher. The answer is simple; I believe that if I don’t like something then I won’t be able to give all my best.

I am really trying to seize the moment, and make the best of what life has to offer me, I know that by support of the national community, my life and the lives of many others would be changed to the better, but until then, Life Goes On.”

AEI-Open Windows Newsletter- annual report 2004

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