Outside the West Bank City of Nablus lies the Balata Refugee Camp. Home to almost 25,000 residents living on less than one square kilometer, Balata is the most densely populated refugee camp within the West Bank. In recent years Balata has seen hundreds of deaths and arrests, dozens of home demolitions and the camp is subject to near nightly invasions by the Israeli army. It is here that the Picture Balata workshop was started to teach youth from the camp about photography.
Picture Balata puts the camera into the hands of the children born and raised inside the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine. Participants ranging from ages 11 to 18 photograph their situation as they live it in Balata Refugee Camp.
Host the Picture Balata exhibition in Spring 2007!
In spring 2007 four of the young Picture Balata photographers will be traveling to the US to tour with an exhibition of their photography. We are currently searching for venues across the US to host the exhibition. All proceeds from the tour will go to purchasing cameras, computers, and other necessary equipment for the photographers of Picture Balata to sustain and continue their work independently.
Ala’, Age 14
I know about the lives of children outside from television mostly. I
know that they have rights that we don’t have. They have better lives.
While we play football or hide and go seek in the streets the Army
will come into the camp… I hope my photos can teach people outside
something about our situation.
Do’a, Age 11
I am not a terrorist I am a Palestinian. People think that we are
doing bad things to the Israelis, but it is the opposite. They are
controlling our lives, not the other way around. It’s important for
people outside Palestine to know about our situation here. They must
know about the lives of the children.
Fadi, Age 18
I hope to show people the stories of Palestinian prisoners. I know
that the entire world can name the name of the kidnapped Israeli
soldier, but no one can even name on of the 10,000 Palestinians in
Israeli jails. This is the problem, the media. They don’t cover the
conflict equally and that is why I like journalism and photography, so
we can tell our own story.
Hadil, Age 15
I chose to take pictures of the streets because it is an important
part of how we live. I notice that when I photograph a child, maybe
the child will smile or pose for the camera and that expression might
not reflect how the child is really feeling. But the streets, they
can’t lie. They can’t smile or pose for the camera because they are
not human beings. This is the way it is.
Mohamed, Age 15
It’s hard for people from the camp. We don’t own anything. Our lands
were taken, most don’t own businesses, we are dependent on Israel for
work. People outside don’t understand the relationship between the
Israeli occupation and us the Palestinians and how they control us.
Sabreen, Age 17
I want to show women outside, especially Israeli women, how we, the
Palestinian women are living. I want to show them how we are going to
universities and working to build this society and taking care of our
families and how we are struggling against occupation. And we will
continue our struggle until the occupation ends.
Safaa, Age 12
My project is taking portraits of the children in the camp. I want to
show the impression of the face of the children who I take portraits
of - their style of living, their background, their experience and how
they suffer here from the occupation.
Taha, Age 16
It’s important to talk about the drivers, because a lot of young
people don’t have work and they have to work as drivers. The future of
these young people are dying, they are losing jobs. We have to show
this problem to the outside world and to the people in Palestine.
Tahreer, Age 15
No one in the camp wants to die. We enjoy life like everyone else and
we want to be free like everyone else. The Israelis don’t want us to
be free. I photograph martyrs and their families in the camp because
they are our heroes and people should know what they have sacrificed.