Lajee Center would like to thank all donors, partners, volunteers and friends of Lajee Center. Without your support Lajee Center wouldn’t be able to continue serving the community and doing all these activities.
International Summer Camp
This August, Lajee Center hosted the 21st Annual International Summer Camp for Solidarity and Committed Volunteering in Palestine. Over the course of two weeks, we provided twelve participants with opportunities to grow, learn, and collaborate in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Participants worked with our circus group, supported our athletes, helped with our summer camp, and started a mural project. In addition to volunteering, participants had many educational opportunities to learn directly from Palestinian activists and professionals like Khaled Alazraq, a former political prisoner and Nidal Al-Azza, director of the Badil Resource Center. They also learned about Palestinian cuisine and took Arabic and Dabke lessons, in celebration of Palestinian culture.
In addition to their time in Aida Camp, participants visited camps and towns in Nablus, Ramallah, Hebron, and Jenin. These visits allowed the participants not only to learn about the history of Palestine and the ongoing political situation, but also to witness how Palestinians are resisting the Israeli occupation. Throughout the summer camp participants learned about Palestine in an authentic and purposeful way that is sure to stick with them as they return and share their experiences back in their home countries.
We began a mural project to honor the 27 villages from which Aida Camp residents originate. With the support of a delegation of volunteers from Ireland, we completed a mural inside of Aida Camp with a map of the villages and paintings along the wall of the ongoing Nakba. The mural begins by depicting Palestinians living in their home villages, it continues with imagery of the Nakba followed by the occupation, and ends by honoring current Palestinian resistance efforts. Now, we are continuing to create a larger mural that honors Aida community members of each village and celebrates what their home towns and villages are known for.
ACLAI Palestine Gym
In Lajee Center gym, we had more than four hundred visits during the month of August. Women and men in the community took part in an array of fitness classes, boxing lessons, and yoga sessions. We also hosted a workshop with ten women from the community who have diabetes and hypertension to inform them about the programs we offer in the gym which would help them strengthen their health. We are excited to continue to grow our fitness programming.
MCC Summer Camp (Jenin Summer Camp)
Lajee Center’s 20th annual summer camp continued in the beginning of August. 250 children from across the Bethlehem governorate, including those from Aida, Deheisha, and Azzeh camps were in attendance. Children attended lectures to learn about health, first aid, national culture, and their rights as Palestinian children. Participants also enjoyed a day of swimming at Battir Resort and Amwaj Water Land, sporting activities, theatre and circus practice, art and music activities. At the end of the summer camp, a closing ceremony was conducted at Lajee’s field attended by the children’s families, Lajee’s friends and volunteers.
Lajee Center’s library recently underwent a renovation project, breathing new life into the space. This revitalization included a range of improvements, including a fresh coat of paint and updating and cataloguing the books. The objective of this renovation is to cultivate an inviting atmosphere that fosters critical thinking, sparks creativity, and encourages fun. To kick off the refreshed space, Amahl Bishara worked with the children to write and design a book using cut-up pieces of paper to tell their stories.
Zahrat Al-Yasmeen Kindergarten opened its doors on August 28. We have 49 brilliant children who are learning in our KG1 and KG2 classes. Not only are both classes full, we unfortunately had to turn down at least 25 students away due to the lack of space in our current classrooms, making it ever more important for us to continue our new classroom expansions. We hope that next year we can accept more children and provide them with unique preschool education.
Visit of Daniel with the Circus School
Daniel, a member of the group Pallasos en Rebeldía, joined our Lajee Center circus school for several weeks this summer. He worked with the children of the school to develop their circus skills and create a final performance, which they would perform when the entire circus group visited the following month. The students focused on acrobatics and aerial skills, including using the trapeze and tissues. Pallasos en Rebeldia, which was established in Galicia in 2004, is an artistic space of international solidarity, political transformation and cooperation that is expressed through clowning and circus arts. We are so grateful for the time Daniel spent with our students.
On August 17, two generations of our Lajee Center Dabke dancers performed at a ceremony to honor prisoners who graduated from high school and university. Many notable leaders of organizations that support prisoners and former prisoners attended the Commission Detainees Affairs ceremony in Beit Jala. We were grateful that our dancers had the opportunity to celebrate prisoners who received their diplomas and demonstrate their talents.
This month, members of our environmental unit continued to care for our hydroponic rooftop gardens. They planted new crops, including broccoli and cauliflower. As our plants continue to grow, we look forward to more collaborations between our different units and our hydroponics program.
Our Women’s Unit is hosting fruitful discussions and meetings with women from Aida and Al-Azza camps. This month, we began a new project, which aims to address environmental and health justice for women. This project promotes access to healthy foods and exercise for women from Aida Camp and Al-Azza camps. During our first events, we spoke about the importance of exercise on women’s physical and psychological health, the types of sports and exercise opportunities available to the women, and we answered many of their questions.
Later in the month, more than twenty women attended a lecture by the psychologist Mervat Sobh, who talked about psychological stress, challenges that women are facing in Palestinian society, and how to cope with these stressors. Women in attendance were able to share their challenges and discuss them as a group. We are excited to continue to work with our Women’s Unit and collaborate on ways to strengthen their health and nutrition.
Al-Bustan Association Children Show
As part of a series of events organized by the Al-Bustan Association from Silwan, Lajee Center hosted one of the association’s shows at Lajee playground. The event was attended by children from the Circus School, children from Aida and Al-Azza refugee camps and Lajee Center’s members and volunteers.