The water testing program continues within the camp for E.coli and Coliform bacteria, through testing a source and at taps. In addition, the environment unit tests on request homes water within the camp in order to see if they are contaminated. They have found for example dead bird in the water tank so the unit informed the family that the water was contaminated. Then procedures were started to clean the water tanks, and post this water was found to be uncontaminated. Additionally, the environment unit has been asked to test water further afield, in towns such as Hebron in the AlAroub camp.
Furthermore the head of the Environment Unit, Shatha Alazzah has given talks on the water contamination and shortages, as a consequence of the Israeli occupation, to international students. Shatha has also spent the past 2 years compiling a comprehensive paper on the status of contamination of water in the camp and its origins and has then published a paper.
A new project from Arij organization (the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ) / Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable development in the occupied Palestinian territory and the self-reliance of the Palestinian people through greater control over their natural resources) thathas collaborated with the Lajee Center which has contributed seven greenhouses to the Aida camp. Each greenhouse is 4 meters by 3 meters. The families given the greenhouses were chosen according to surveys carried out, thus showing the people who were most interested and suited to having a greenhouse. Afterwards, surveys were carried out to better understand the needs of each family, where to better locate them and what to plant in each of them. The agriculture engineer then presented workshops about the cultivation of the greenhouses to the recipients. Additionally, the students of the environment unit helped to cultivate the seeds with families and maintain the growth of the plants. This gave the students of the environment unit a renewed interest and responsibility into agricultural cultivation as well as the needs of the community of the camp. Tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, strawberries, thyme, eggplants, peppers, onions, green beans and radishes were some of the vegetables planted. Whilst primarily the idea of the greenhouses is to promote a food security plan within Aida camp, the greenhouses also offer a way for residents to reconnect with the land. Traditionally, most Palestinian livelihoods were in agriculture. This aspect of their lives was forcibly taken away from them by the Israeli occupation. Therefore, the greenhouses and the growth and maintenance of vegetables gives residents a way to connect with their ancestry and celebrate their heritage. The project also aims at educating the community - the families and the students - about the importance of a balanced diet, about health and nutrition. In the face of the significant levels of unemployment in the West Bank and the lack of opportunities inside the camp, the gardens have shown to be a sustainable form of empowerment and resistance, a means to grow, rebuild and not only survive, but also thrive, even in the adversity.
The students of the environment unit have cultivated the garden of the Lajee center which is 10 meters by 7 meters with the help of international volunteers during the summer camp. An irrigation system was put in place; the drip irrigation system was used in this circumstance. Then, different kind of vegetables such as red and white cabbage, onions, and cauliflowers were planted. The yield of the vegetable crops will be a very large, and the centre plans to sell the yield and then feed the money earned back into the Lajee center to pay for activities.
In August, the head of the environment unit Shatha Alazzeh gave lectures to the women of the camp on recycling the rubbish from houses as well as organic materials and therefore how to reduce the pollution of the camp overall.
Volunteer Day Cleaning
During the Lajee Center Summer Camp in August 2017, Palestinian children gathered for two weeks in Aida camp for recreational and educational activities. Students attended lectures about preserving the environment and instructing them not to throw trash on the floor, which
h until now has been a very common practice amongst them. They were told that, during the camp, they would be fined if they were caught breaking this rule. Even though the fine was fictional, the children’s behavior changed significantly, and by seeing the results, they realized the benefits of maintaining a clean environment. Additionally, there was a volunteer day during the summer camp in which the children cleaned the camp, by collecting and disposing of rubbish and litter, along with the UNRWA cleaners. This resulted in the children enjoying a clean environment for the rest of the summer camp.
At the end of August, with the help of international volunteers, a mural was painted on a wall next to the Lajee Centre. An outline of a drawing was designed by an international volunteer and then the mural was painted by the children of the camp. The mural shows environmental issues that the camp faces, such as the control of water sources by the Israeli occupation, as well as the apartheid wall and consequential loss of land. There are also images which aim to insite Palestinian pride amongst the children, such as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly which symbolizes the quest and hope for freedom from occupation. Additionally, there is a tree with branches in the colors of the Palestinian flag which represents the link between nature, the land and the Palestinian people. Finally, this mural aims to remind the people of the camp daily about the work Environment Unit.
Educational field trip
During the summer camp, the children also participated on an educational field trip to Al Makhrour. The trips give the students the opportunity to get to know the environment of their own country better, as well as to appreciate the diversity of plants and animals. The aim of this trip is to encourage the children’s interest in the environment, which will then hopefully result in the children becoming stimulated to protect the environment. They understand the links and connections between their actions and the environment as a whole, and become more aware and responsible. Lastly, seeing the beauty of the Palestinian countryside ignites pride in the children for their country.