2004 Report

Dear Friends of Recap 2004,

We’ve made it! The first ReCap session ever has come to a great end!

The project, which is conducted in cooperation with Palestinian students consisted in its pilot-version of two parts: a four-day-long workshop at Al Quds university in Abu Dis, and 2 and a half weeks of practical training at hospitals, clinics and  refugee camps in the Bethlehem area.

In this ReCap session we were, apart from the Organizing Committee 5 international students, joining in Palestine.

On the 7th of August, we left Jerusalem for the West Bank and Abu Dis, and the workshop started. We were taught Palestinian history, how the refugee crisis began, what their situation is like today and what it’s like to live and work in the camps. Facts and statistics where varied, with discussions and questions to the lecturers, who came from different organizations and all actively work with refugees.

Through the discussion sessions, which typically lasted longer then the scheduled time, we got to know the Palestinian students and learn about their life.  They told us about checkpoints, time spent for hours in the sun, what it feels like to be abused by soldiers and what it feels like having soldiers entering your own home. They told us about younger brothers and sisters in their teens still afraid of the dark, about the girl in Aida camp who saw her mother get killed and then had to spend the rest of the day locked into a room because the soldiers needed their house.  They showed us their frustration and anger, but they also gave us suggestions for solutions that they thought reasonable and they gave us an understanding of Palestinian culture and everyday life.

The Palestinian medical students in the group also gave a presentation of a survey on the psychological impact of the intifada on teenagers living in the Bethlehem camps.  All in all, the workshop gave us a platform from which we could move into the Bethlehem segment of the  project.

After the four days in Abu Dis, we moved on to the next part of the project, the practical training in Aida camp, Bethlehem. With 7000 inhabitants, Aida is the second largest camp in Bethlehem. We worked together with a children’s center called Al Rowwad, through which we found families to stay with for the rest of the  trip.  After the first confusing impressions of children everywhere, narrow streets, dirt, smiling people, sewage water pouring down the street, the camp actually seemed just as organized as any village with a very poor living standard.

We had pretty much the same routines everyday: hospital rotation in the mornings, UNRWA’s activities or own with the children in the afternoons. The evenings were free and we spent most of them hanging out with our families or having dinner at different people’s houses.  Our hospital rotations gave us a wide range of experiences, from private clinics to the governmental hospitals and UNRWA clinic. We followed the doctors around and most of them were really good at explaining. We learned about both normal childhood diseases and special rare diseases.  We got to see some very uncommon inherited diseases and learned that hepatitis is a major problem.  The clinics are of varying standards, with the private ones naturally in the better range, but a general impression is that all of them are under-equipped and more specialized, trained staff are needed.  At the UNRWA clinic (primary health care for ref.) one doctor sees 200-250 patients in one day, leaving less than a minute for every patient.

In the afternoon we followed the UNRWA animators.  They work with refugee children and through games give them opportunities to express themselves in a non -violent way. Some of the activities were striking to see, such as one in which the children, asked to draw their current life situation, painted tanks, the wall, soldiers and the signs of different Palestinian political parties.

During the project we also took some field trips.  We met Dr. Kahan in Tel Aviv, who offered us a lecture on the Israeli health system.  He also took us on a tour around his very nice, well-equipped and well-planned hospital.

The project only lasted for three weeks, but we’ve learned a lot.  Being there for such a short time, we may not have accomplished anything other than a temporary difference for the kids of the camps, but the important thing is that we are going home with a better knowledge of how to help them and others in the future.  Our general impression from rotations and time spent in the camp is that help is needed everywhere.  If you want to help us organize the next summer session or be one of the participants for next year, you are welcome to contact: recap@ippnw-students.org!

We very much appreciate the help and support of all the students, doctors, institutions, friends, who supported us so much ideologically, financially, participating and helping, inspiring, motivating, advising – so ReCap could come true!… special thanks to the German and Swiss IPPNW chapter, The friends of Al-Quds-University, Al-Quds-University Abu Dis, UNRWA, UPMRC, Al-Rowwad-Children-Center in Aida Camp in Bethlehem, the hospitals of Bethlehem for supporting ReCap financially of in offering free services! Thanks for their ideological support to the IPPNW chapters of Palestine, Israel, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Canada, Switzerland as well as to Tycho Sierra, Alex Rosen, Matthias Jochheim, Jens-Peter Steffen, Nicola Kaatsch, Ernesto Kahan, Rashid Chotani, Neil Arya, …and to all the other people helping us internationally and on the ground in Palestine! Thank you for adding your part for launching this ReCap pilot project, your support is also very much welcome in order to plan and run the future ReCap session! 

Jessica Ehne