Spending the night in a refugee camp

Bethlehem Travel Blog

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Entrance to Bethlehem
We spent an incredible night in Dheisheh refugee camp, a UNRWA-created "camp" that was established in 1948 just outside of Bethlehem.  I put quote marks around "camp" because it's not really a camp, per se - the settlements are permanent, and there are stores, schools and a hospital.  The homes are one of the most fascinating parts: people have lived there for 60 years, so obviously the population has expanded, but the size of the camp hasn't.  Instead, people just build up.  There can be 3 or 4 generations living in the same house, on top of one another.  Often, the rebar is just left exposed atop the house, in preparation for any expansions.

What really struck me was how happy the children were.  It was almost as though living in the refugee camp sheltered them a bit.  There didn't seem to be any bitterness passed on to them from their parents and grandparents - instead, the message of hope was instilled in them.  Nearly everyone we spoke with was optimistic about the end of the conflict, and the ability to return to their homes soon.  One old man had lived in the camp since its creation in 1948, and still had his house key with him.  He told us that the next time we were in Bethlehem, he would be happy to welcome us into his home, as long as we agreed to help out with the olive harvest =)  He was just so certain that he would be able to return before he died.
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Entrance to Bethlehem
Entrance to Bethlehem
The Wall - the separation barrier…
The Wall - the "separation barrie…
The Wall
The Wall
Me in front of the wall, to show s…
Me in front of the wall, to show …
Streets of Bethlehem
Streets of Bethlehem
Sunset over the refugee camp
Sunset over the refugee camp
Early morning at Dheisheh
Early morning at Dheisheh
Looking out over the refugee camp
Looking out over the refugee camp
Rebar, left exposed to facilitate …
Rebar, left exposed to facilitate…
The Naqba at 60 - 1948-2008
The Naqba at 60 - 1948-2008
Palestinian boys in Dheisheh
Palestinian boys in Dheisheh
Che and Handallah
Che and Handallah
Picture of Saddam Hussein in the h…
Picture of Saddam Hussein in the …
Bethlehem
photo by: cotton_foam