The hospitality I have experienced in Palestinian Refugee Camps has been incredible. Most people are extremely welcoming and always insist that you come into their home and enjoy some tea, coffee, or lunch. At many of the stores I enter in Camp Shu’fat, I am even given snacks and drinks for free. This weekend, I visited Camp Aida near Bethlehem. A few young boys began to take me around, showing me their farms and the different things that they grow. We picked some fruit that I have never seen before from the trees and ate them as we walked. They told me there is a lady that owns a ton of dogs on the side of the road near the farm. I approached the house and was greeted by a welcoming old lady. She invited me inside her cozy home that was beautifully decorated with religious images of Jesus and Christian figures. She told me that she loves dogs more than human beings. "They are loyal, affectionate, and very loving," she said. The lady had about 8 or 9 dogs inside her home. I played with them and kept her company as she waited for her friend to take her to the church. When I left, I told her that I will pray for her and her dogs. She then left for church and prayed for me that night.
I was invited into the local Mosque to pray in Camp Aqabat Jaber, which you can see in the picture below. I was pleasantly surprised that they did not mind that I was taking pictures. Not knowing what to do, I followed everybody around me and bowed my head to the ground and prayed with them. I found the experience very peaceful. It was something I felt I needed to do because I will be spending so much time in these communities.
I met a man named Fadi in Camp Aqabat Jaber that introduced me to the Jahlin family. The Jahlin family invited me to their home where they were constructing a new floor on the roof of their house. I watched as they used copper wire to create the foundation for the walls that they will use for the new room. After about 30 minutes of building, we enjoyed a big lunch with meat, potatoes, rice, and bread.
Once we fueled up, they drove me to the highest mountain near Camp Aqabat Jaber. It was very steep, so they had to get out of the car and push it up the mountain at some points like the one in the picture below. We arrived at the top of the mountain where they built a fire on the edge of the cliff and made some tea. I am still searching for the herbs and specific ingredients they use in the tea because it is so damn good.
We danced and sang, overlooking all of Camp Aqabat Jaber, the Dead Sea, and the even the country Jordan. The entire experience was one of the most memorable things I have done here so far. You can find a video of the men dancing below.
The next day I found myself walking along the outskirts of Camp Aqabat Jaber near the farm. A group of men were taking a rest from building a new home for their family on the side of the rode. They invited me inside to drink some tea while they relax. We sat on the dirt floor inside as it was still in the early stages of construction. I became interested in the frame of the window inside the house and made the photograph below.
The two young men in the photo below belong to the first family that invited me into their home in Camp Aqabat Jaber. They brought me into a couple of their neighbor's homes. In this picture, we are actually in their grandmother's house.
Overall, I have been having more positive experiences here than negative. I wanted to make this post to give you a better understanding of some of the more intimate moments that I have experienced here. If you want to find me everywhere else online, check out the links below.