From Gaza to Lebanon. Not the name of a film, but an opportunity for contact between Palestine refugees across the Middle East for the first time. Last week, Gaza’s children were able to talk, laugh and share stories with their counterparts in Lebanon through a video link organized as part of UNRWA’s summer games. The result? Smiles and new friendships all round.
Living in refugee camps in two disparate UNRWA fields, the children are unlikely ever to be able to meet in person, and opportunities for contact are rare. Nerves were understandably high as the children sat in the video rooms in Gaza and Lebanon, waiting for the link to be set up so that they could see and hear each other.
Having nervously introduced themselves, the kids were soon asking all kind of questions of one another. Some explained that had they had long been wondering about the lives of their counterparts, so far away. Now, they had the chance not to hear the story from teachers or parents, as is common, but to share experiences – and even forge friendships – face to face.
The right to play
UNRWA’s summer games had a big role to play in making this groundbreaking conversation happen. Kids from both sides asked each other about the games they had played and which were their favourite activities during the summer camps, held in Gaza and in Lebanon simultaneously.
All the kids agreed on one thing: their enjoyment of the summer games, and the importance of exercising their right to play.
UNRWA would like to thank its donors - the EU, which funds the summer games in Gaza and Lebanon as part of its wider support for education, as well as the Finnish and United States governments.