It was a bright and early start for everyone on the team as it takes roughly two hours in the saveese to snake up through the Samarian hills and reach Jenin from down town Ramallah. We were given a warm welcome from a full class of young people at the Sharek centre in Jenin. They immediately took interest in the idea of creating graphic novels based on their experiences of life under occupation. Consequently, it was a long and intense day of teaching showing the basic components of a graphic novel and how to construct one from scratch. It was a relief when all the work paid off the next day as we collected an array of moving graphic novels telling tearful and stirring stories pieced together from family memories. We were with them for a mere two days but lasting memories were made of wide eyed smiles, laughter and their steely determination to overcome the obstacles of life under occupation was truly inspirational. We had spent the previous week working hard to create a fundraising campaign and a platform through social media to broadcast the graphic novels to communities around the world and it was worth it!
All photos from the Palestine Through Graphics workshop in Jenin.
Feda Ayyash is a national volunteer at Sharek Youth Forum who has been committed to this project since its inception in October 2012. Her family lost their home in 1967 when they were driven from the rural town of Al-Ramlah. She now lives in northwest Jerusalem and still hopes to one day return to her ancestral town despite the long years of conflict and the on-going setbacks presented by Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Her story is just one among many that puts a face to the ever growing numbers of those simply wishing to one day return home. Feda has ambitious hopes to greatly expand this project over the coming months to equip more young Palestinians with the creative and empowering ability to craft their own graphic novels and share their stories. She is convinced there is no better tool for raising awareness, which at the same time promotes a creative means of non-violent self-expression.
A recent survey by UNRWA found that a quarter of Palestinian youth suffer from hypertension caused from exposure to traumatic events. By offering participants a space to voice their experiences in an innovative way ‘‘Palestine Through Graphics’’ aims to alleviate some of this distress and enhance Palestinian solidarity. The latter is a particularly pressing issue given the fragmentation of Palestinian identity boldly highlighted and debated by the recent 2013 Masarat conference (the Palestinian Centre for Policy Research and Strategic Studies) at Al-Bireh Municipality Park Hall. To learn more about Feda’s story track the progress of ‘‘Palestine Through Graphics’’ by visiting the Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/