29 March 2008

A happy day for the children of Lajee Youth Centre, Aida 'Camp', Bethlehem

March 27, 2008

Lajee spring-time trip to Jericho (&..eventually)

Despite the desperate current situation in Palestine, Lajee continues to attempt to provide what it can for Aida Camp’s children. We had planned a trip to for the children but this had to be postponed three times due to the bloody week which saw four ‘wanted’ Palestinians assassinated by Israeli forces. After the assassinations, they declared Bethlehem a ‘closed area’. Following this a 'closure' was imposed on the entire area during the Jewish Passover week. Finally, on March 21st, we succeeded in our plans and we took three buses full of eager and excited children to Jercho.

About 160 children went to the Al Ouja area to enjoy the small river that may get rerouted soon to supply water to Israeli areas. Over the last ten years the fresh springs feeding Al Ouja river have already been re-routed to supply only the Israeli colonies west and north of Jericho. However, the children enjoyed being there, playing in the cold water, having their breakfast, and collecting small soft and colored stones. We try to visit Al Ouja every year to enjoy the fresh air and green landscapes that are non-existent in the narrow airless streets of Aida Camp.

Before going to a small park in the city of Jericho, the Lajee supervisors tried to take the children to the the Dead Sea which is supposedly controlled by the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli soldiers on the checkpoint around one kilometer before the beach prevented the three buses from entering the area.

At the request of the children who wanted to swim, we took the children to a small park with a swimming pool where the children enjoyed swimming and taking their lunch. After lunch we all went to another park where the children were able to play ball games, seesaw, slide, and other popular games.

Where possible children made a donation towards the trip’s costs; those who could paid 20 shekels and this money nearly met the costs of the hire of one bus. Lajee covered the remaining costs of the other two buses, entry fees etc thanks to the support of our friends around the world. In this regard, Lajee would like to express its great thanks to all organizations and individuals who contributed to covering the cost of the Jericho/spring trip. Indeed, there are many who have already donated for the purpose of organizing entertainment activities for children. This trip is one of those activities and it provided lots of much needed fun and relaxation for our children. There are many more exciting trips and activities ahead throughout the spring and summer.