Thoughts on Calais

I spent my first post-Brexit weekend in Calais, volunteering in the warehouse of L’Auberge des Migrants. L’Auberge is a French charity that partnered up with the British organization Help Refugees, in order to deliver humanitarian aid to the refugee camps of Calais and Dunkirk. Together they run a warehouse, where donations are collected and sorted, they distribute clothes, hygiene kits, tents to the camps, and they operate a kitchen that feeds thousands of people every day. They organize recreational and educational activities for men, women and kids and more in general, they put big efforts into making the lives of people in the camps as bearable as possible. Continue reading “Thoughts on Calais”

Crossing Qalandia

The distance from Jerusalem to Ramallah is of 20km. The Arab bus station is located in front of Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. The 219 bus to Ramallah departs from the Northern block of the station. Sometimes it will be numbered 18, 19 or 218, it is still the same bus and goes the same route. At the beginning I used to double-check with the driver where the bus was going because in the permanent state of confusion reigning at the station, I felt one can never be sure. Continue reading “Crossing Qalandia”

On the way to Ramallah

In September 2015 I took sabbatical leave from my job, sublet my room and moved to Ramallah. The months preceding this decision were full of doubts and insecurities: Will I still have a job when I come back? What if I get denied entry into the country? What if I find myself in the midst of the next full-scale attack? In the end, I figured that I would regret staying more than going. I was getting more restless by the day and I felt the urgency to challenge myself: London and my daily routine were too comfortable and that certainly didn’t help my personal development. Continue reading “On the way to Ramallah”

A day in Hebron

The day I saw Hebron was my personal this-changes-everything moment and many times afterwards I would find myself thinking about it, seeing the images again in front of my eyes and feeling a deep sense of desperation. Hebron is beautiful. I was enchanted by its architecture, the ancient Arab houses, the backyard gardens, the traditional market shops selling spices and sweets. All this however, is buried under the unbearably tense and violent atmosphere you sense once you enter the city. Continue reading “A day in Hebron”

Planting olive trees in Beit Sahour

An early morning in February 2015 I boarded the plane to Tel Aviv. I was nervous to say the least, in the previous weeks I had read all the horror stories of airport interrogation, deportation and bans to enter the country. As anyone who is heading to the West Bank  via Ben Gurion Airport, I followed a few simple rules which are: pose as a tourist, smile, keep your answers short and above all, don’t mention the word Palestine under any circumstance. My Western passport and my white skin brought me through security in around 20 minutes. Continue reading “Planting olive trees in Beit Sahour”