Posts Tagged ‘summer program’

By: Michelle Turner
Wavel Camp

Nour walks through the door to the home Amélie and I have just rented for the Wavel volunteers, mop, broom and dustpan in hand.

A couple of 10-year-old boys from the neighbourhood stand in the doorway asking us what team Amélie and I support in the worldcup. Italia? Brasil? Allemania?

The apartment is bare. Nour looks at us, then looks at the boys. “La,” she says. And she closes the door in front of them. “Much better.” She smiles and thrusts the dustpan into my hands, and begins to sweep, bent over, forming a pile in the centre of the concrete floor. “Yalla.” She instructs me to put the dustpan in its place. The home is being transformed. “La, Amélie. The towels must be folded like this.” She places them on the metal shelves that we have just covered with newspaper to hide the rust underneath. “La, Michelle. The garbage bin goes over here.” “At night, you must close this.” She points to the little window in the kitchen with the broken screen. “Michelle, the carpet.” We move the carpet so the mattresses line up with the carpet’s edge. Just right. Nour smiles at her accomplishments. “Adey Ahmrik?” I ask.

“Ten years old,” Mama replies.By: Michelle Turner
Wavel Camp

Nour walks through the door to the home Amélie and I have just rented for the Wavel volunteers, mop, broom and dustpan in hand.

A couple of 10-year-old boys from the neighbourhood stand in the doorway asking us what team Amélie and I support in the worldcup. Italia? Brasil? Allemania?

The apartment is bare. Nour looks at us, then looks at the boys. “La,” she says. And she closes the door in front of them. “Much better.” She smiles and thrusts the dustpan into my hands, and begins to sweep, bent over, forming a pile in the centre of the concrete floor. “Yalla.” She instructs me to put the dustpan in its place. The home is being transformed. “La, Amélie. The towels must be folded like this.” She places them on the metal shelves that we have just covered with newspaper to hide the rust underneath. “La, Michelle. The garbage bin goes over here.” “At night, you must close this.” She points to the little window in the kitchen with the broken screen. “Michelle, the carpet.” We move the carpet so the mattresses line up with the carpet’s edge. Just right. Nour smiles at her accomplishments. “Adey Ahmrik?” I ask.

“Ten years old,” Mama replies.

By: Gus Constantinou

You knew something out of the ordinary was occurring by the quartet of young boys posing as musicians milling about the street below. Three of the boys were holding durbakehs (Arabic drums) and one was cradling what looked to me to be bagpipes. The musicians’ hair was carefully slicked back, their jeans carefully ironed, their shirts impeccably pressed. A small group of women and children had begun to gather round the band, seemingly confirming our suspicions that something exciting was underway. Quite suddenly a cue was given and the boys began to drum in a frantic, yet unified rhythm.

No sooner had the high-pitched bagpipe played its first note than the women began to ululate in unison with the drums, throwing their hands into the air, and beginning to dance. From a room just below our balcony a woman in a white hijab emerged with one hand in the air, the other holding the hand of the man in a dark suit that followed her. Yet another woman emerged to going the group, this one in a green hijab. The trio danced in a circle to the cheers of the gathering that was growing by the second. As the music swelled, the trio went around the circle a few more times and then led the procession to awaiting automobiles. We ran to the back of the small apartment whose rear balcony provided us a perfect view of the ongoing ceremony. It was in this rear area where we had waited on several occasions for taxis to pick us up. It was also from this aerial perspective that I tried to compare this wedding scene with those back in Canada.

In Canada there isn’t water and sewage running through the streets. In Canada, there aren’t a myriad of electrical wires hanging from the roofs of crumbling and crowded buildings, pock-marked with shells from a not-too-distant war. In Canada, the bride and groom do not await their automobile by the camp garage dump. And in Canada, there isn’t a highway being constructed directly, almost as to appear inside, my family’s home and neighbourhood.

And yet in Canada, we do not celebrate this heartily.

Our neighbours do not take the time out of their busy lives to throw rice down on dancing brides and grooms and proclaim ‘Mabrouk!’ Our whole community and neighbourhood do not get excited and involved when a wedding procession noisily appears. Of all the places in the world that I have been, it has only been here, in this camp where people have allowed me to live and teach, that people resist by refusing to let their surroundings get the best of them. Just like in my Canadian home, despite its differences with the camp, a wedding is going on. And just like back home, perhaps even more so, there is much celebrating to be had!

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CEPAL cook books for sale: $15 each. Enjoy Palestinian food at home! Email info@cepal.ca to order