On Tuesday March 20th Saja, Aeman, and Manar, students from the photography workshop went to the local village of Faquaa to give a photography lesson to local children, providing them with the tools necessary to document their experience as it pertains to water. Additionally a group of children from Gaza were selected to photograph the water issues they face in their daily lives.
The photography students met with the children in the local meeting center where Saja led a lesson on photography with the help of Aeman and Manar. This was the children’s first time using an actual digital camera as opposed to a camera phone. The students learned the basics of how a camera works, how to compose a photograph, and photographic elements they should keep in mind when taking pictures, such as changing perspective, getting close up to their subjects etc.
The students and their group then went out to explore the village of Faquaa, a village in northern Occupied Palestine, where residents are denied access to water resources that irrigate the lush fields of Israel which lay on the other side of the dividing fence. This is the fence that the Israelis put up in order to confiscate the land and water resources of Faquaa. The name of the village, Faquaa, means spring water bubbles in Arabic, but access to water here disappeared long ago.
The children, acting as hosts took our photography students around to show them some of the ways that they have adapted to the water shortage such as using containers and large plastic tarps to collect rain water. At the edge of the village, next to many homes lays the Israeli constructed separation fence. It is a thick mass of razor wire armed with motion sensors that detects if anyone gets too close. There is a road on the Israel side that sits next to the fence. The children are afraid to get too close to it as they are afraid of the soldiers “Jaish” coming.
The children of Faquaa explained that there are underground wells on the israeli side that are not being used, wells that at one point the residents of Faquaa had access to. They said that the lack of clean water has contributed to many being very ill as they showed us the murky brown water the people in the village collect and that getting fresh water brought into the village is very expensive.
Photographs were taken of the well that holds the rain water, giant drums of dirty water that are used for drinking, washing dishes, and bathing, the tarp they put on the ground to collect the rain water for the well, and the daunting fence that separates them from the lush and green fields of Israel. Dr. Farha, one of the thousands of Palestinian community leaders using non-violent, popular struggle to oppose the illegal apartheid policies of Israel said that it is the most unbelievable sight in the summer when their land is dry and brown from lack of water, and on the Israel side, sprinklers are sticking out of the ground showering the land keeping it green and fertile. “The contrast is just amazing.” he says.
On April 12th each group will present their photos to each other, via video conference, that best represent some of the water related challeneges they continue to face in their respected communities. This event will be hosted by the Qattan Centre, which is a division of the Qattan Foundation, a UK charity organization working towards the development of culture and education, with a particular focus on children, teachers and young artists. The Freedom Bus will be part of the conference and performing at the event. For more information about Palestinian water and sanitation please visit Thirsting For Justice.