Beit Ummar Children Summer Camp 2016: When the Laughs of Children Occupied the Territories
The life in the Occupied Territories is a daily struggle for its people and unfortunately, children are too often the first innocent victims of the repressive policies implemented by the occupier. However, even in the darkness of this unjustified oppression, the laughs and insouciance of the children of Beit Ummar remind us all that in Palestine not everything is about politics.
For several years, the Center for Freedom and Peace of Beit Ummar has developed a Summer Camp project for the children during the school holidays, which features various activities such as painting, dancing, theatre, yoga and of course diverse playing games. This wonderful project will not be possible without the incredible work from the instructors and volunteers, who are dedicating time and energy for the kids. The way they succeed to transfer their own passion to them is very impressive. In addition to the common games activities, some classes intended to develop creativity, imagination and self-reflection among the kids, such as the drama workshop.
The theatre class was an ambitious project to put in place but it provides many benefits for the children and its impact is simply prodigious. Without any doubt, the drama class goes beyond the “simple” task of memorizing a text and reciting it in front of an audience. Indeed, this class offering more to the kids, it offers a medium to express their joy, their anger, their fears but also their hopes. The particularity of this class is its objective to develop the children creative skills as well as to work on their abilities to express themselves and communicate with others, which will be needed in their future life. The power of drama is that it allows the children to enhance their confidence as well as to promote teamwork. For instance, during the classes the children discovered the importance of sharing their ideas but also to listen the ones from the others. The main objective was that every child has the opportunity to express his own opinions and feelings without being afraid of doing so. More importantly, drama classes enable children to learn about empathy and understand others feelings. This is an important outcome to highlight because sharing emotions, identifying them and expressing them, is a critical factor to create solidarity, cooperation and fraternity among children.
In addition to the drama classes, the children have the chance to be introduced to yoga, which was taught for the first time this summer at the camp and was a great success. A final activity, which needs to be highlighted is the dabke classes, which offer to the children to learn and practice with proud their traditional dance and to perpetuate a dance, which is deeply anchored in the Palestinian culture.
It is less to say that the annual camp in Beit Ummar was a success and an indispensable activity for the children during the summer as it brings a mix educational activities and fun. However, it is relevant to note that this year the Center struggled to fund the Camp and its survival was only due to the instructors and the volunteers as well as the tenacity of the direction of the Center for Peace and Freedom, which despite the financial obstacles were determined to organize it. Therefore, this report wants to acknowledge their fantastic work and thank them for offering such joie de vivre to the Beit Ummar children, which allow them to forget for two weeks the hardship of the daily life in the Territories.