25 June 2013 Dheisheh Camp, West Bank
At the Phoenix Centre “Al-Finieq,” in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, the Campus in Camps project hosted an event for the 2012 cohort’s final presentation. With the project’s two-year deadline quickly approaching, participants were proud to display and discuss their work and ideas.
Bisan Al Jaffarri, a participant from Dheisheh refugee camp, described some of the work the project made possible, “After working to define terms of the Campus in Camps collective dictionary, I began to work with the community of Arroub camp to refurbish their stadium. The women of the camp had already reclaimed the space and I joined them in redefining the sustainability of social relationships, spaces and materials.”
Yasser Hemadan, Campus in Camps project administrator, was involved with the effort from its initiation in January 2012. “I have been with the project from the beginning,” he noted. “I am proud to be a part of this initiative and am most proud of the hope that Campus in Camps has encouraged in the participants.”
Produced by Al-Quds University through the Al-Quds/Bard Partnership, Campus in Camps aims to provide Palestine refugees with the infrastructure and intellectual space to transform theoretical discussions of “space” and “agency” into practical, community-driven projects. The project is implemented by the Infrastructure and Camp Improvement programme of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH with support from the Government of Germany.
Sandi Hilal, of the UNRWA Infrastructure and Camp Improvement programme, said: “Campus in Camps explores and produces new forms of representation of camps and refugees.”
Ghada Ahmad Titi, a 35-year-old from Arroub camp, spoke of the project’s personal impact. Following a six-year imprisonment, Ghada rarely left the house. An aunt frequently attended Campus in Camps discussion, “and she urged me to go a meeting. I have been returning ever since my first event. My psychology had become that of a prison, but Campus in Camps liberated me from that.”
Exploring new realms
“The foundations Sandi laid made Campus in Camps possible,” stated programme director Dr Alessandro Petti. “We have been able to produce work despite our different approaches, from the practical needs of the community to the theoretical and philosophical,” he continued.
The Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Felipe Sanchez, described the project as inspirational. “We hope to replicate this effort across the West Bank,” he said. “Campus in Camps has connected people to people, institutions to institutions and camps to other camps.” One and a half years after Campus in Camps began, he said, “We have started to see the fruits of the labour from everyone’s participation and involvement, the way we have been able to collect our resources to solve problems.”