On 30 August 2019, BADIL concluded a three day Al-Awda school in Haifa, entitled “We are here and tomorrow is ours.” This new project is part of the Al-Awda school for children and the first event had 25 participants (13 girls), aged 14-18.
The school aimed to raise participants’ awareness and knowledge about the history of Palestine, the ongoing Nakba and the continuous struggle for Palestinian refugees and displaced persons.
The three days included a series of activities, workshops and lectures on topics such as, Palestinian identity, Israeli forced displacement policies and how they affect Palestinians from both sides of the Green Line, social and legal equality. The workshops were comprised of topics related to Palestinian geography and refugee camps, in addition to communication skills.
The participants attended an awareness tour in Haifa, where they were told about the history of the city, whilst seeing and gaining a deeper knowledge of how systematic displacement policies are practiced by Israel. In addition, the participants visited the depopulated villages of Ain Houd and Tantura. Tantura was destroyed during the Nakba in 1948 when Zionist militias massacred the people and then flattened the village. Ain Houd is now an artistic village with the old Palestinian buildings and homes still standing but only utilized by Israeli-Jewish colonizers.
There was also an awareness tour organized at the Lajee center in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. A research study published by US Berkley school of Law in 2017, states that Aida refugee camp is the most tear-gassed place in the world and the participants learned about the violations the residents in Aida experience on a daily basis. Refugees living in the camp told first-hand stories about their lives, showing not only the violations, pain and suffering but also the incredible persistence the residents have when it comes to resisting the occupation.
The activities are part of BADIL’s efforts to cooperate with Palestinian community-based organizations on both sides of the Green Line, in order to enhance rights-holders’ awareness, engagement, and understanding of the right to return, in addition to providing them with platforms to raise their voices.