For the past three days, Lajee Center held the third conference of the Refugee Youth Forum in Beit Jala, gathering young people from all over the West Bank together to improve their leadership skills and knowledge.
During the forum, around 70 participants, mainly young refugees aged between 18-25 years, discussed issues related to the Palestinian situation and the requirements of peace in the Middle-East.
Asked about his impression regarding a workshop he took part in, Wisam Abu Hashish, a twenty-three-year-old participant said “[The workshop] introduced me to many people that I did not have the chance to meet before. Differences in terms of opinions and culture where interesting to confront as well.”
Along with workshops, speakers such as Greg Thomas were also invited to hold talks about specific topics, such as the Black Panther Party in America and Palestine, and relations between Palestinians in the occupied territories in 1948 and 1967.
“Learning more about the struggle of the Black Panther Party was really enriching and eye-opening. This has also led us to tackle the role of women in conflict situation. I believe that learning about other women’s struggle for a cause has empowered me as a woman” said Nisreen Dweik, a student in English literature at Al-Quds University.
Beyond the necessity of educational discussions, such a forum also aimed at training tomorrow’s leaders through the strengthening of community ties and the improvement of the participants’ skills in the fields of human rights research, media and social justice.
Now that the third meeting has ended, it is time for the participants to fulfil their role as community leaders in their own camps. Few of them, the most qualified ones, will be travelling to Europe to represent the Palestinian society and to provide the European community with information regarding the situation on the ground.
Having suffered from occupation and refuge, these youths now can be able to partially take back what was taken away from them by force; the right to self-determination, delivering their own voice and being the decision-makers of their own fate.