Burj el-Barajneh camp is situated near Beirut International Airport in south Beirut. It was established by the League of Red Cross Societies in 1948 to accommodate Palestinian refugees from the Galilee in northern Palestine.
To all the eyes that are looking at a beam of light lost in war roads
To all the ears that will be hearing a cry of suffering
And to all the hearts that might guide hope and peace to enlighten our days
To start talking, you need a tongue. Don’t you?
To start feeling, you need a heart. Don’t you?
To start crying, you need eyes. Don’t you?
And after our experience, I will tell you a small painful secret, a refugee card will unfortunately help you to start suffering.
My name is Shaker Khazal. I am 15 years old. I come from a small deprived Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon called Bourj Al Barajneh. Something special about my camp is that it rains day and night, during summer and winter. It rains tears that are a result of future worries, present fears, and past dark memories. I hold a very small identity card that they forgot to put on any right a human need to live. All what is there, a beam of hope to achieve peace that protects us from death. We only need peace to live under a sky of freedom and existence. I really need a roof of education that protects me from the gloomy future.
Our story began when war replaced peace, tears replaced smiles, worry replaced mind, fear replaced happiness, and problems replaced our peace of mind.
Although I am now in the land of Niagara Falls, my heart and mind are still in the Palestinian refugee camps. From the moment sun rises over that little deprived space, and the prayer call is heard, the day of pain starts. Students going to their schools with a small bag waiting the tiny random pieces of education at UNRWA schools. Patients dying at the doors of the hospitals ending their worry of how to find medicine. Parents fighting with eachother and the only reason is the refugee’s situation.
War devil chasing each part of the daily life of each generation. Graduates being lost between the poor roads of jobs. Young kids hanging around the small alleys with garbage, lack of electricity, poverty, and a tree that absorbs problems and releases suffocations. Elderly walking in Jerusalem and Bethlehem roads that still find the largest room in their minds. And at the end, four generations hoping to have an identity of rights and peace in the shadow of a tree in their homeland.
Rights we can easily make by making a mosaic of help. My refugee camp doesn’t need a tear. It has painful tears. It needs a look from two eyes that cry help, not only tears. But peace to live with the others, we can try to make. One day, my pure soul tells me that it will happen.
Shaker Khazal is 15 years old, and grew up in the Palestinian refugee camp of Bourj al Barajneh in Beirut, Lebanon. Shaker is currently in Canada with the Palestinian Friendship and Leadership Exchange Program, sharing stories about life as a Palestinian refugee.