By Nawaal Adams
The lived reality of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation is explored in a new project, which takes the form of a visual calendar. The much anticipated launch of the 2017 Shamsaan Palestine’s Children Commemorative Calendar took place at the Palestine Museum on Sunday and was attended by a number of pro-Palestinian activists, NGOs and community members. The project was driven by activist Nadia Meer and supported by Awqaf SA.
The project aims to raise awareness and educate the world on the struggles of Palestinian children who are living under the horrifying occupation of Palestinian territories. These Palestinian territories violate international law and human rights. 2017 is the year which will mark 50 years of the occupation.
Despite it being condemned, there has been very little global action in putting an end to Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians. The project aims to reinforce that Palestinian children are not just statistics but human beings whose lives are being constantly shattered.
The stories of 200 children have been documented. The children were asked to talk about their lives and how they’ve coped with the effects of living under the occupation. They were encouraged to illustrate their life stories. Their drawings show their bravery and their perseverance.
Project founder Nadia Meer stated that the inspiration behind the beautiful name Shamsaan came from a five year old Palestinian boy, Ahmed Dawabshe, who spent almost over a year in hospital recovering from agonizing burn wounds. These wounds occurred during an arson attack on his home during the night. The heart-breaking attack claimed the lives of both his parents and his 18 month old brother.
Ahmed shows his vision for the future in his art work. It exposes his deep desire for a happier and brighter future. He draws his house intact and beautifully shaded in gold. The name Shamsaan came from the two suns which he drew. Sun translates to ‘shams’ and two suns are ‘shamsaan’.
“He drew a very bright and happy scene,” said Meer, who met Ahmed when she visited Palestine earlier this year.
“Coping is a lived experience. They know no other. Some with greater experience than others”, she added.
Local child rights activist, Joan Van Niekerk, said the Shamsaan project hopes to expose the truth of the plight in Palestine.
“We have to remember that Palestinian children who grow up the continuous exposure to violence, there is complex trauma that is not easily resolved. The calendar project drives home how these children suffer and challenges us to look at ways in which we can contribute to the mediation of conflict,” van Niekerk.
Palestine Museum director Dr Anwah Nagia said the museum was built to bring about change and to educate people on the situation in Palestine, especially the lives of Palestinian children. He said it was important to display the work and experiences of Palestinians in order for the world to understand how much injustice Palestinians endure in their everyday lives since the occupation occurred.
He added that the much anticipated Palestinian Museum will be completed within four months. The project has been plagued by many delays, including objections from certain quarters. The museum covers an incredible 3000m². The launch of the museum is said to bring in 5000 to 10 000 people.
“It is the first of its kind,” said Nagia.
The Shamsaan project looks to generate support and contribute to a solution to the crisis.
The calendars are going for R150. Net proceeds of the sales will go to the Awqaf SA Palestine Children’s Endowment Fund.
For more information please visit the Facebook page: 2SunShamsaan or www.awqafsa.org.za/shamsaan. VOC