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Melica Rochi – Alternative  Information Center– Wednesday, 08 January 2014 (originally published 06 Jan)

Aida Camp entrance

The entrance to Aida refugee camp. Image: Wikimedia

Amal al-Mustakbal, Hope in the Future, is the name of a cultural center in Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp. This name holds inside of itself many different meanings. It represents not only the wishes about the future for children and the Palestinian refugees in general, but even the name of a founding member, Amal.

I met another co-founder of Amal al-Mustakbal, a charismatic woman tested by an intense life and all the sufferings she has experienced. Painfully travelling more than twenty years back in time, Fatima told me how the center was born. After the beginning of the First Intifada, when children were in the streets without the possibility to study and go to a safe place,women residents of the Aida camp decided to open a kindergarten for the children and recreation center for women. In the beginning, the center was no more than a small room where activities were hosted.In 1991 some 30 children took part in the kindergarten and its activities while the number of children grew to 60, then 80 while finally reaching 140 in 1992.

Presently, Amal al-Mustakbal takes care of 60 children, aged 4-5, during the mornings and offers additional courses and activities for young people throughout the day, including language classes and traditional dabka dancing. Once each month the centre hosts a visiting doctor, since there is no medical clinic in the Aida camp . . .

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