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We Are All One House Where No One Goes Hungry:Aida Camp's Community Kitchen as a Solidarit Model

Posted On: 28-03-2023 | National News , Human Rights , Palestinian Diaspora
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Bethlehem/PNN/ Monjed Jadou Report 

Aida Refugee Camp “Tkiyet” which is the community kitchen, initiated by Alrowwad Cultural And Arts Society, continues to provide essential services to the camp's underprivileged families. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the organization has been cooking and distributing food in the camp and its surroundings areas.

The “Tkiyet” is staffed by local volunteers, foreign volunteers, and members of the Al-Rowwad Society. They work daily to prepare Ramadan meals from early afternoon until just before the evening call to prayer. Everyone contributes to the process, from cooking and packing to wrapping and distributing the meals. The meals are prepared and packed appropriately, and volunteers distribute them to needy families in their homes to avoid embarrassment.

Chairman of the Board of Directors of Alrowwad Cultural And Arts Society Ibrahim Abu Srour said that despite the decline in aid to the community kitchen this year due to global circumstances, including the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, the management of Alrowwad Cultural And Arts Society remain determined to continue providing these services. They recognize the need for such services amid the ongoing difficult conditions in Palestine.

He added that the Tkiye was established with humanitarian goals in mind, aiming to lend a helping hand to the camp's underprivileged residents. It was founded during the coronavirus pandemic and has continued to operate due to the persistent hardships faced by the Palestinian people, both economically and politically. This has driven the association to maintain the community kitchen despite financial difficulties and the lack of sufficient funding and support, as aid has been redirected to other disaster-stricken areas, such as Ukraine or the earthquake-hit regions in Turkey and Syria.

Abu Srour said :"Faced with this situation, Al-Rowwad Society had a difficult choice to make: either reduce the number of daily meals provided or continue its operations. The Alrowwad made the bold decision to continue the community kitchen's services, relying on some local assistance, community support, and self-reliance. There is hope that Palestinian companies and official bodies will give the community kitchen the attention it deserves, as there has been some negligence in providing the necessary resources to the association.

Cooking and Distributing Quality Meals to Uphold the Dignity of Palestinians

Volunteers at the Aida Refugee Camp community kitchen prepare delicious meals, such as the traditional Mansaf with meat, cooked and served in containers, and wrapped in a manner that ensures the dignity of the recipients. This approach aligns with the Palestinian philosophy of providing food without compromising the dignity of the beneficiaries.

In this context, Dr. Abdelfattah Abusrour, General Director of Al-Rowwad Cultural And Arts Society, told PNN that the association continues its mission for the fourth year and completes its journey in Aida camp under the slogan, "We are one family in the camp where no one goes hungry." Last year, the community kitchen served 20,000 meals, and this year, they hope to exceed that number.

Dr. Abdelfattah Abusrour emphasized that the Al-Rowwad works to deliver meals, food, and all forms of support within a philosophy and vision that preserve the dignity of the people and the camp residents. The goal of the community kitchen is to serve the Palestinian people and deliver services with dignity.

Regarding the number of daily meals, Dr. Abusrour said the community kitchen provides around 400 meals daily, with the number increasing on some days to as many as 1,000 meals, depending on the support and funding during the holy month.

 He expressed his gratitude to all those contributing to this humanitarian work and stressed their determination to continue assisting the Palestinian people based on the available resources.

Al-Rowwad Association's Mission Focuses on Responding to People's Needs, Not Donor's Requirements

Dr. Abusrour also emphasized that the mission of Al-Rowwad is to respond to the needs of the people, not the needs of the funders. He pointed out that any funding that aims to humiliate the Palestinian people by capturing them in photos while receiving assistance is unacceptable.The philosophy of Al-Rowwad in the community kitchen and its humanitarian services is to cook, wrap, and deliver meals to homes without taking any pictures. The associatio also does not disclose the names of university students receiving scholarships, nor the names of those receiving Eid assistance or aid for medical care, as the mission is to support people silently.

He highlighted the multiple challenges faced by the Palestinian people in political and economic spheres and stressed the importance of working towards alleviating their suffering. It is not only about providing financial assistance but also addressing the lack of political and economic prospects and helping to build peace within the hearts of citizens.

Tkiye : A Volunteering Opportunity for All

Both Palestinian and foreign volunteers who work long hours in the community kitchen at the Al-Rowwad community kitchen expressed their happiness for the support they provide to the Palestinian people.

Ribal Al Kurdi, the Executive Director of the Al-Rowwad, affirmed that one of the most critical visions and plans of the Al-Rowwad Cultural And Arts Society to enhance the sense of belonging among Palestinian youth to support and assist the camp residents. The community kitchen works to achieve this by encouraging young people to volunteer and promote a spirit of community service.

Al Kurdi also mentioned that dozens of young men and women from the camp work daily to deliver meals to families and participate in other voluntary tasks, contributing to building a strong community with unity and solidarity among its members.

Aida Camp volunteer, Aodi Al-Mashaikh, expressed great joy in working and volunteering to serve the people of Aida Camp and its surrounding areas. He noted that this work is voluntary and patriotic, encouraging everyone to support the community kitchen, whether through donating food, money, or volunteering to work in the kitchen. According to Adi, there is a pleasure in serving people in the camp.

An Australian volunteer named Charlie, who came to the Al-Rowwad Association during Ramadan to express solidarity with the Palestinian people and engage in volunteer work, mentioned that his parents used to participate in significant volunteer work in Aida Camp and Palestine. They left him a legacy in this field, and he visits to ensure its continuity. Since day one, Charlie has been working in Aida Camp's kitchen, assisting with food preparation, packaging, and distribution. This volunteering experience gives him a sense of pride in helping the Palestinian people.

Local Community Support

The local community, represented by official and community institutions, expressed appreciation for the work done by Aida Camp's community kitchen. Representatives from various institutions visit the kitchen and try to lend a helping hand, recognizing the importance of the role it plays.

Said Al-Azza, the head of the Popular Committee for the Services of Aida Camp, stated that the committee and various institutions and factions, led by Fatah movement, support Aida Camp's kitchen and its national and humanitarian work. He appreciated the efforts and initiative of the Al-Rowwad  Culture and Arts Society  to continue this project despite all the challenges.

During PNN Palestine News Network crew media covareg at the"Tkiye", Brigadier General Ibrahim Al-Absi, the Director-General of the Bethlehem Governorate Palestinian Police, visited the community kitchen in the camp. He was briefed on the kitchen's work progress and expressed deep admiration for the idea, which helps and provides assistance to the Palestinian people in a dignified manner.

Brigadier General Al-Absi, in an interview with the PNN, said that this visit aims to strengthen cooperation with the community and provide legal assistance to the Palestinian people. He pointed out that Aida Camp is a confrontation point and requires national, legal, and humanitarian support, stressing that it serves as a model of struggle, community, and humanity. The community kitchen's work is proof, as it assists not only the camp but also various other areas.

In an other interview with the Palestine News Network, Marwan Al-Fararjah, the Secretary of the Fatah Movement in Aida Camp, stated that the camp has been a model of national strugle for years, with key aspects of solidarity and mutual support.

He highlighted that the community kitchen is a distinguished work model, as it has been covering the needs of struggling and modest families for several years, calling on all parties to support and assist it.

Al-Fararjah pointed out that the visit of the Director-General of the Bethlehem Governorate Police to the camp and the community kitchen carries important messages. The most important of these is strengthening the relationship between the people of the camp and the security institution and its leaders. This reflects a commitment to unity, especially in light of the Israeli occupation's targeting of the Palestinian people as a whole. He appreciated the initiative of the Director-General of Police and its officers in Bethlehem to provide a gift to support the community kitchen, even if the gift was symbolic, as it carries many meanings.

At the end of each day during Ramadan, Aida Camp's community kitchen, backed by the Al-Rowwad Association, sends an essential message to the Palestinian people about the importance of supporting one another. In addition, it sends a message to the dozens of young male and female volunteers about the significance of volunteering to serve the community.

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