NATIONAL DEFENSE - SOCIAL ISSUES

Stop throwing stones

The real victims of the political instability and violence in the West Bank have been children. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East, 181,241 refugees reside in the nineteen refugee camps on the West Bank and 471,555 live in the eight refugee camps in Gaza. Approximately forty percent of all these Palestinian refugees are children constantly exposed to violence. Abdelfattah Abusrour, who grew up in a refugee camp, is empowering Palestinian children by providing alternative activities for creative expression, as well as therapeutic outlets for anger. He is based in Aida Camp, which is located in an area of continuous friction between the children and Israeli soldiers. A. Abusrour combats the child soldier phenomenon by creating vocal, empowered, and brave young promoters of non-violent resistance and peace. He is giving the children an opportunity to enjoy their childhood, a basic right that many children in the world take for granted.

Abusrour achieves his goal through extensive art programs, job skills training, educational tutoring, and psychological counseling. By use of educational programs, performances, networking and active partnerships, his idea is expanding. When the political situation improves, he will assist the nineteen West Bank and the eight Gaza refugee camps to improve the lives of children. His aim is to create tangible safe spaces for the children of the camp to play and gain skills, providing an alternative to martyrdom and a respite from fear. He believes this freedom of expression will have a profound effect on their future life choices. The children will no longer need to throw stones at Israeli soldiers to show their resistance; instead they can turn their energies toward building a better future for themselves. He intends to extend his activities to neighboring countries with refugee camps and has already engaged with camp leaders in Lebanon and Jordan.

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