In the context of a social campaign supported by the Kayan Feminist Organization, an organization which has established women’s leadership groups in various cities and villages, a woman’s group in Shfa’amr recently held a public gathering in the park at the town’s center. The activity was organized by the Shfa’amr local women’s group for their “Our Journey” campaign.
This is just one of the campaign oriented activities put on by the Shfa’amr women’s group in cooperation with Kayan and the town of Shefa-‘Amr. The goal of the campaign is to encourage people, particularly women, to utilize the town’s public garden, with the hope of strengthening Shfa’amr residents’ sense of belonging to it. The idea is that a strong sense of belonging will lead to increased participation in the park’s upkeep, and will encourage other residents of Shefa-‘Amr to come and visit the park. This is part of an overall initiative to create a stronger sense of community amongst Shfa’amr residents, and to bring the community together in a well-kept public space.
This particularly activity in the garden, which was called “you are invited to us,” was attended by approximately 30 women. Prominent among them were elderly women, especially women over the age of 70, with several young women and girls in attendance as well.
The activity featured the telling of stories from the elderly women participants, who spoke about the historical, social, and geographical events of the past and present in relation to the Palestinian people. These stories aroused the interest of the audience, who were eager for a connection with the past through the stories of the oldest living generation.
This story-telling brought many of the participants back to their early childhoods, as they listened to the elderly women speak of their experiences and memories as related to the Palestinian Nakba, Shefa-‘Amr and its inhabitants of old, food as it was in the past, and about social relations. Overall, through the elderly women’s’ stories the event was transformed into a mosaic that illuminated Palestinian life.
In a talk with Najat Armali, a Shfa’amr resident and leader in the local women’s group, Armali said: “It was a truly emotional session. Each participant brought us back to the years of her childhood and transported us to the first stages of her life, portraying the journey of a people in a beautiful and interesting way. The stories helped us to understand the unique qualities of youth.”
She added: “What’s interesting is that despite the different personalities, the stories were all very similar. Their talks were all characterized by that familiar feeling of childhood, namely the safety and good relations between people, something we’re very much missing these days.”
To that she added: “Longing for the past was the common denominator between all the participants, and they expressed this longing with tears and echoed it with their words.”
At the end of the meeting, a group of young women related their narratives and stories of past events to the grandmothers. This added to the enjoyable atmosphere of the activity. The activists of the Shfa’amr local women’s group have also confirmed that they will indeed keep the “Our Journey” campaign going.
Translation by Theresa Lyons
Original Article in Arabic: Here