As part of Anera’s nation-wide campaign to provide basic hygiene and personal protection products to vulnerable Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, our public health team organized a door-to-door hygiene kit distribution in Rashidieh Palestinian Refugee Camp in the South of Lebanon.
During this distribution drive in Lebanon we met an inspiring woman named, Aisha. This is her story.
“My name is Aisha and I am 80 years old. I am from the district of Safed. Of course I remember Safed. We left Palestine in 1948. I was 7 or 8 when we first arrived in Lebanon.
“I have lived in Rashidieh camp since I got married. I used to live in the village of Jouaiyya in Tyre with my family. Then we had to move to Sidon [Saida] in 1982, which was a tiring phase of my life.
“We suffered to make ends meet. I don’t remember being happy then. There were days when we could not afford to put anything in our stomachs, and we would go out to the orchards and collect vegetables and fruits off of trees on random lands that didn’t have owners.
“Of course I think of Palestine every day and I remember the olives, the grapes... how my older sister and I used to wait for the figs to fall from the trees. I want someone to take me to Palestine, right now. I will leave everything behind and go now. I would leave the house, the furniture and everything just to go back home.
“I heard about this corona thing, but I rarely leave my house. So staying at home is not much of a change for me. I was worried of course but I learned how to protect myself: wash my hands always and wear a mask whenever I have visitors or leave the house. I also trust in God that I am in safe hands. He is my ultimate protector.
“I am a Palestinian artist and my work is about Palestine. I make decorative pieces from old material, fabric and beads, and I ask talented people in the camp to draw colorful things on my pieces.
“Nothing is too hard for me to do regardless of my age! I find happiness and joy while working. I love watering my plants — it warms my heart to take care of them and help them grow. I love food! My favorite Palestinian dishes are shishbarak and kabab. I love everything that I prepare with my hands. I love kibbeh the most. We still pound the bulgar wheat on the cobblestones here, just like my mother did in Safed.”
“To me, good days are days like this one, when I get visits from young people who want to hear my stories, see my work and know more about Palestine. You [referring to Anera’s team] remind me of my own children and I loved sharing stories with my children. Your presence makes me happy.”