On April 30th 2014, the Barefoot Artists team visited Al Aqaba, a small West Bank village located in the Jordan Valley. The village is at a watershed moment.
Palestine is divided into three sections: Section A, B, and C, where A is under Palestinian security and authority, B is under Israeli security but Palestine authority, and C is where Israeli’s can freely enter and leave and many Palestinians are restricted at checkpoints. Al Aqaba is in Section C, which makes the population totally vulnerable to Israel’s policy of occupation, which has issued 39 Demolition Orders against the houses and structures of the village, including the medical center, an internationally-funded kindergarten, the houses, and the village mosque.
The village mayor Haj Sami Sadiq, who was wounded by bullets when he was 17 during an Israeli military exercise, has dedicated his life for four decades from a wheel chair to peaceful resistance to Israeli occupation. His courage and steadfastness give hope to the Palestinians living under the apartheid system.
Barefoot Artists held workshops for children in kindergarden and first grade where we invited children to create images depicting their environment and lives. Haj Sami invited our team to create something beautiful where people come together for meetings. We had very limited time. But we managed to transform a bare wall into a beautiful mural within one day.
Ayat Omran, a lovely young Palestinian poet, who joined us in painting the mural told us, “Everyone in Al Aqaba likes it specially kindergarten kids. They jumped into it and asked their teachers to take their photos in front of it. It’s not only fun drawing, but one put something from the heart and soul into the place and to the community which bring great feelings of giving and belonging. Besides, seeing the beautiful and creative transformation and being part of the process is very inspiring. “
Haj Sami and the librarian Kifah commented, “We are moved by the mural because it touches the core of our lives and struggle. The tree represents the connection to the land while the white flowers reflect peace and hope. All together it’s a visual embodiment of Al Aqaba’s story and journey. It will be a source of strength to keep us going with the same spirit.”
Learn more about Barefoot Artists’ projects in Al Aqaba, Palestine.