BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights recently held the Awda (Return) Summer School program in Ibdaa Cultural Center in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, on Saturday 15 October 2016. The program, which included 45 participants from different areas within mandate Palestine, offered three days of educational and skills based intensive workshops.
The summer school is one of the programs that BADIL implements in cooperation with a number of community based organizations on both sides of the Green Line. The program aims to enable right-holders to raise their voices on issues related to Palestinian rights in general and Palestinian refugee rights in particular. It strengthens their abilities and skills to mobilize community participation and the return movement, as well as to promote a rights-based solution. In addition, it strengthens the internal Palestinian bonds that have crumbled in the past few years due to Israeli military checkpoints, the installment of a permit regime, and many more policies imposed by Israel on Palestinians throughout mandate Palestine.
The summer school program covered diverse topics in its workshops. The educational workshops included lectures on Palestine pre 1948, the Palestinian refugees in the international law, and aimed to introduce the participants to the impacts of displacement on Palestinian identity and unity. The skills-based workshops aimed to supply the participants with skills needed to advance their level of engagement in presenting the issue of forcible transfer. They also included strengthening communication, teamwork and presentation skills.
The program also included two site visits, the first to Dheisheh Refugee Camp and Bethlehem and the second to Fasaiel village in the Jordan Valley. Participants were introduced to the political, social and economic situation of the camp, as well as its current struggles and hardships. In the Jordan Valley, participants were introduced to the Israeli policies that are used to displace people in these areas.
Participants were given the space and time to evaluate and give their feedback on the program, and to reflect on the lessons they learned. Participants spoke about the importance of the topics discussed in the summer school and expressed their interest in building upon the program’s work.
The summer school was implemented in partnership with the Arab Culture Association (Haifa), Al Awda Center (Toulkarim), Yafa Center (Balata Camp), Youth Development Center (Jalazoun Camp), Youth Center of Aqbat-Jabir (Jericho), Laylac (Bethlehem), and Bethlehem University. It also included the participants of Visualizing Jerusalem that BADIL organizes in partnership with the Youth Development Department, Al-Bustan (Silwan), and Burj Al Luqluq Social Center Society in Jerusalem.