A Day at the Sea
In the midst of August 2017 about 85 Palestinian children and their parents celebrated the freedom and endless vista of sea and sky. Instead of their devastating travel to one of the hospitals in Israel for dialysis, chemotherapy or radiation, they crossed the checkpoint and got on a bus that took them to the Tel Baruch beach in Tel Aviv, where they were welcomed by an enthusiastic group of Humans without Borders volunteers.
The breaking out of regulations, controls, and an exhausting routine, transformed our people – for a few hours – into happy relaxed individuals. Right off the buses, children rushed into the water, some in bathing suits and some fully clothed, all bubbling with excitement. Most cannot swim, as they have never had the opportunity to learn. They don’t know just how dangerous the sea can be in these regions, so the volunteers formed a human barrier along the rope that the life guards had strung out and kept a careful eye on the young crowd. Other volunteers took kids in their arms and played with them in the water, to the joy of everyone.
The parents meanwhile settled themselves in lounge chairs next to the water or under big umbrellas. They enjoyed the breeze, the sound of the crash of waves, the delicious food prepared by Alya from Jaffa, the company of each other and of the volunteers – the lack of language is easily overcome by good intentions – to make this day a perfect day. There is absolutely no substitute for these interpersonal encounters. The ingrained, internalized images, which everyone seems to hold, simply wither into a nothingness.
This was the fourth trip to the sea that Humans without Borders has organized and the third supported by Children of Peace. Until Palestinian families will be able to travel freely to the sea by themselves, we will continue this minor effort toward a bit of normalcy.