A Student Visits Shu’fat Camp

Wafa, a student from northern California, is working on her Masters in Public Health. For the past six weeks she has been volunteering with our partner the Women’s Center in Shu’fat camp gathering data and working alongside the amazing team.

Shu’fat camp, located in East Jerusalem, houses an estimated 125,000 occupants, many of whom are permanent residents. It was initially established by UNRWA in 1965 in order to provide a safe haven for 500 families who were dispossessed and displaced, and continues to increase in capacity. Within the camp, there are significant food and water shortages as well as an overburdened sanitation system, leading to unsafe living conditions. The women and children, who are disproportionately affected by social and economic factors, face the greatest challenges and are amongst the most medically vulnerable. As a result, they must inadvertently compete for limited resources including food, water, and access to healthcare.

A common question they asked me was “Which is more beautiful, Palestine or America?” and before I could respond, they’d follow with “Palestine, of course.” And I naturally agreed.

This summer, thanks to the Women’s Center- Shu’fat Camp (WCSHC), I was afforded the opportunity to witness the significant impact that KinderUSA has had on the lives of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. I spent a few weeks assisting the lovely staff at WCSHC with three concurrent summer camp programs, two of which were in Bedouin encampments. Through my interactions with the children, I learned about their motivations and ambitions, and they inquired about my experience living in America (many of them had never met an American and were quite fascinated by me).

The camp(s) participants are incredibly grateful for the on-going support, which is evidenced by their excitement at the mention of KinderUSA. The sponsored programs not only unify the children, but also give them something to look forward to on a daily basis. Moreover, I can attest to the success of this initiative and hope it continues for the sake of the underserved children of East Jerusalem and beyond.

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