Tapestry of Humanity

Every week on this page, Anera will add a new image and story to our #TapestryofHumanity.

Often we hear refugees and other vulnerable communities discussed in terms of numbers or their level of victim-hood. Our tapestry will feature humanity through the stories of diverse individuals from Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon.

"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)

Each photo and story will be featured for a week on this page, after which they will be ‘woven’ into Anera's Tapestry of Humanity below where they will be archived.

"In Jericho we have checkpoints and barriers... We also have the story of Zacha (Zacharias), who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus as he entered Jericho. Zacha was very short, but he didn't let that stop him from reaching his goal. The lesson Palestinians take from this story is, despite obstacles, we need to find ways to persevere to achieve our hopes and dreams." - Mario, Franciscan Monk, Church of the Good Shepard (Jericho, West Bank)
"I wasn’t scared. I don’t know why, but I had no fear of the bees from the beginning. I think they [the bees] sensed it because I didn’t even have to put on the mask and long gloves after a while. The secret is to be calm and get to know the bees and in turn they get to know you. In one day we collected 11 buckets – that’s about 275 kilograms of honey. Imagine! We filled up hundreds of jars and distributed them around the village for free. There’s always a big celebration when something good like this happens. It’s tradition to hand out sweets and share in the happiness. We also wanted to prove to everyone that we were capable of doing something good for the community and that we could produce something of value. Everyone loved it!" - Ilham, beekeeper (near Ramallah, West Bank)
"In the past, fishermen lived a good life. I had two boats. I would always catch fish and I was always happy. I miss it sometimes. All types of fish used to be found in Gaza. Working the sea is something we inherited from our forefathers. It runs in our blood. Now I have this one fishing net to remind me of the tradition my parents passed on to me. Hopefully the old days will return and we can fish and feed the people again." - Mamdouh, fisherman (Gaza)
"I’m 5 years old and in first grade. Today, I came with my teachers and friends to visit a strawberry greenhouse. I have a sister and a younger brother...I am a girl scout and I love to discover. I’m not afraid of animals. My mom lets me pet them. One time I saw a stray turtle and I asked if I could adopt it. Mom said “yes!” People say I’m a brave girl. This is what makes me a girl scout.” – Joudy, girl scout (Beit Lahia, Gaza)
"Every day, I come to this land. The land is my eyes. I've never said I was too busy or tired or I'm not going out today... We are taking care of our land and making sure no one can harm us or take it away from us. Any tree, any fruit, any olive tree or vine tree or grape, I kiss it. I kiss the land because I am living off of it." - Ni'ma, farmer (Beit Duqo, West Bank)
“I had difficulty adapting [to arriving in Lebanon from Syria]. I’m the type of person that likes solitude, but I have a passion for learning new things. My mom told me to look for scholarships and that’s how I found Anera. When I got the scholarship from Anera, I felt like, finally I will do something, I will be able to live life on my own, to be independent.” - Rayan, nursing student and refugee of the Syrian War (Sidon, Lebanon)
Ayyoosh: "I'm 71 and my husband is 77…We're from different villages and we first saw each other on our wedding day. That was the tradition back in the day. I was 14 and a half. But I knew how to cook and prepare traditional flatbread…I still like to pamper him…We have four girls and seven boys, but we live alone now." Daoud: "And we have 85 grandchildren! How can we not love each other after spending a lifetime together?" - Ayyoush and Daoud, shopkeepers (Bani Na’im, Hebron)
"It’s been 27 years since my father died. Toward the end of his life he encouraged me to learn and preserve the heritage of our Jerusalemite town of Lifta, which is famous for its beautiful embroidery patterns. When he died I had just finished high school and had no interest in handicrafts, but his words never left my mind and they propelled me to learn embroidery and become the trainer that I am today... Women are here [in my embroidery workshop] so they can support themselves or their siblings or parents or children. Others want to develop their own businesses. And others are searching for a passion and want to express themselves creatively." - Sabah, embroidery teacher (Ramallah, West Bank)
"When I was in eighth grade, I went through a tough period where kids bullied me. I used to cry every day, but I never told my parents how miserable I was... One day, my aunt took me aside and had me draw a palm tree. She said, 'you must be strong like a date palm tree.' That was an invaluable lesson that changed my perspective and the entire experience taught me to be self-reliant. I've grown to really appreciate the palm tree. It carries a lot of meaning to me and reminds me to find my strength in everything I do. I even admire the date pickers and how hard they work to gather the fruit. They're persistent people who don't let obstacles stand in their way." - Ilham, GNSF program, teacher training (Deir Al-Hatab, Nablus, West Bank)
"I'm more like a sailor who navigates the ship. Exploring, searching and experimenting are things the children do themselves. You find the kids completely immersed and invested in their activities. A child is full of passion and love for knowledge and always wants to be included in the teaching-learning process. When you include children and help build their confidence, they reciprocate with love." - Maha, early childhood development teacher (21 years) (Ramallah, West Bank)
"I am a doctor because it was my ultimate dream. Of course, the beginning wasn't easy, especially since I studied and specialized abroad in countries that spoke completely foreign languages to me. My parents always encouraged us to get an education and develop ourselves. Among me and my 11 siblings, there is an attorney, a journalist, an engineer and several school teachers. I am the eldest, and usually, when the oldest goes for higher education, the rest follow the lead." - Ismail, doctor (Idhna, West Bank)