CPT Palestine recently launched Through their Lens: a new project with five children who live in a restricted area of the Old City in al-Khalil (Hebron). Through their Lens will give these children a platform to tell their stories through photography. This is one of our CPTer’s reflections on the beginning of the program.
During the first training day with the children, we had several items on the table for the participants to choose the thing they liked the most. One child wanted a book, the other a sculpture of the pyramids, and another one decided on the oud instrument. What stunned me was when one girl chose a sound bomb as her favourite object from the room.
It was time to share why each person had chosen their object.
The girl who had chosen the sound bomb started to tell her story and the reasons for her choice. “I live in a restricted area in Ghaith neighborhood,” she said. “When I go to school, I have to pass two checkpoints. I never know when the Israeli Border Police will close the gate that controls the access to my neighborhood. We can be isolated. Many times problems happen where Israeli soldiers use teargas and sound bombs, and I know it is an ugly thing to choose. Still, this object makes me hold onto my dream to continue my education. I will become either a journalist or lawyer to advocate for my people’s rights. I want to let everyone know that regardless of the sound of the bombs I hear or the teargas I smell, I will continue and finish my education. This occupation’s policy to scare me and stop me from walking to my school won’t work.”
It is incredible to observe how children can see through the silver lining in tough times. And as a Palestinian myself, I know deeply that we don’t have a choice but to see a silver lining or else we can’t continue day in and day out under Israeli Occupation.
This day I realized how we failed them – how adults are failing children across the board. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, children have the right to life, liberty, and personal security – that is the right to live, to be free, and to feel safe.
My question to the international community: What does this mean for a child who was born under Occupation, living in a sieged neighborhood by their occupier, who can’t find a safe space to play, and who isn’t able to be a child?