Every week on this page, Anera will add a new image and story to our #TapestryofHumanity.
"The first refugee tent ever erected in this camp in 1950 by the Red Cross was my father's. Most of the refugees here originally descend from either Al-Lud or Al-Ramle. We were exiled from the now-depopulated Saydun village, in the Ramle district. Life is harsh here but we try to rise above it. Our football team is an example of that. It was crowned the champion in professional football in Palestine for three consecutive years. There have been many ups and downs for the team, and we've lost some players along the way during the intifadas. We keep them alive in our hearts. Despite all that, we have won many trophies and titles, managing to win the respect of others and building a very strong reputation. This is a small and humble camp, but it is not to be taken lightly. I used to be on that same team at age 15. I played on the defense line until I was imprisoned by Israel at age 19 in 1948. 10 years of my youth were taken away from me, but I returned to football upon my release.
I was elected to be mayor of the refugee camp four years ago and I'm working on my reelection campaign right now. I haven't forgotten football. I occasionally play with my old friends, as well as my son Qais. He made the team too, and I sometimes train him and give him some tips to improve his performance. His coaches tease him sometimes and say 'you still need to best your father,' but they're just joking. What I would really like for these young men to nurture is their feeling of belonging to the team, and realize that they are representing the refugee camp and Palestine wherever they go and in whatever they do. It's not just about sports."
Taha, mayor of Al-Am’ari Refugee Camp
(Al-Am'ari Refugee Camp, Ramallah, West Bank)