In Jerash, Jordan resides a large population of Palestinian refugees from Gaza. Along with the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, several of my friends and another Jordanian photographer and founder of Darat al Tasweer Linda Al Khouri, visited the camp to collect information before we host the first photography workshop held solely for the residents of the camp.
One of the residents, Mohammed, offered to show us around the scrappy refugee camp, and as we meandered the gravel roads, I felt a sense of longing for beloved Gaza, a place in which I spent a good portion of time living and working. People were going on with their daily tasks, ready to look up to welcome us newcomers with that familiar greeting of peace “Salam”. Many children were dressed in new clothes for the Eid holidays, while others weren’t. I felt the Eid sprit was much stronger than it was in Amman, although I couldn’t but help sense a melancholy that lingered in the warm summer air. At a certain point we came across kids playing on the swings made of spare parts and car axles, while the older kids pushed them around. Issa, Mohammed and Ahmad are 18, their parents arrived from Gaza before they were born but their sprit conserved that strength and beauty I have become so accustomed to in Palestine. From simple gestures I could see how strong the bond of friendship was between them. Before I left Issa insisted I take his picture without even asking me to send it. Later on we spoke with some of the parents, and with surprised tones, they told me how many of their children asked not to receive gifts this year, in compassion with the current situation in Gaza.
Many people of civilized Amman consider these kids as trouble-makers or not trustworthy, but I continue to learn valuable life lessons from all these remarkable kindred spirits.