small park BIG RUN organisers were enormously privileged to interview two Palestinian refugees earlier this year. The accounts they gave were moving, fascinating, frank, honest and inspiring in equal measure. We are very grateful to them for sharing their personal and painful stories.
Sahar Awadallah and Kholoud Al-Ajarma both told of how their families were expelled from their homes seventy years ago – and are still dreaming, three generations later, of their return.
Sahar spoke of the insecurity she experienced as a child moving multiple times from country to country, with a bag permanently packed ready for the next upheaval. She spoke of her anger that she must seek permission to visit her hometown. And she also spoke of her annoyance at the double standards and hypocrisy that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has again revealed. Where it has now become OK to call for sanctions against a country accused of aggression and occupation – this was not the case for those calling for a boycott of Israeli goods who were often accused of racism and exceptionalism.
Kholoud told us of her life – where at first she didn’t realise she was growing up living in a refugee camp, she thought everyone lived like that! But slowly she discovered that although Aida refugee camp was her home, it wasn’t her homeland.
She spoke movingly of the tales her grandparents and parents would tell of their homes, now in Israel, where the cactuses tasted like honey, they ate fresh figs from the trees and they ate fresh bread from the oven. With weekly markets and friendly people all around. This memory stood in stark contrast to the refugee camp she found herself in, with its daily Israeli army raids and the smell of tear gas, rather than fresh bread, in the air.
Kholoud said that that although the stories her family told her seemed to be like fairy tales when she managed to finally visit their family homeland those stories turned out to be true. Beautiful countryside with space to live in, to return to, and air to breath.
You can listen to the interviews in full, by following the links below.
small park BIG RUN would like to thank both Sahar and Kholoud from the bottom of our hearts for their collaboration and cooperation.