Rites of passage

I sat in on a class with Flor, who taught English to eager 6 to 15 year olds in Hebron. I was later introduced to a 13-year old Palestinian girl. With a confident handshake, she told me her name. Samal would be the first of the many Palestinian refugees who would pass by me everyday. Her status is not obvious – one would not first guess that Samal is living in a UN refugee camp, where running water is not a given, and checkpoints are a part of everyday reality.

I could not imagine the psychological pressure that must have on young children.

Yet, she has the strength to excel in school. As she tells me proudly, she is the best student at her school, which is evident from her fluency in English.

We later went to Hebron’s Old City market, where we bought headscarves and sunglasses for Samal. She doesn’t often go to the market, since it is far from her refugee camp. However, the shops started closing at around 4pm. I later learned that it is because the Israelis have imposed a curfew on the shop keepers. Samal was happy nonetheless, that she got her prizes from the market.

Later that evening, I had the opportunity to hear from an imam. Arbitrary arrests and imprisonment are part of their life – a twisted rite of passage that many Palestinians have to go through.

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