Fun Day, June 2022
On 24 June 2022 volunteers from Humans without Borders and a huge number of the families that we assist (more than 225 people in all) met for a fun day at the Murad Resort in Beit Sahur. It is difficult to put into words the sheer joy and happiness that the day produced.
When a child is seriously ill, the whole family is affected, the child, the parents and the siblings. The family operates within a state of constant stress and anxiety. Often their livelihood is affected, because the father is unable to work or because the Palestinian Authority refuses to cover all expenses forcing the family to pay for medications and of course for transportation, within Palestine, to the checkpoint.
Once a year, the parents, siblings and sick children are invited to forget their difficulties and anxieties, poverty and the humiliation of constant conflict with the PA.
About 20 volunteers organized breakfast with several tables of traditional labana (yogurt cheese), oven-warm rolls, and trays of fresh vegetable. All the food was happily devoured. It is not every day that the children get such a healthy breakfast.
And from there to the pools. Dozens of children with tubes splashed around with volunteers. I played with Nermin's family whom I have been driving for several years, her younger brothers was, at first, a bit terrified of me but he quickly developed a trust in this foreign woman and later jumped into the water laughing and splashing water everywhere.
Another real surprise was in the women's area, a closed indoor swimming pool for women and girls only. The women removed their headscarves, wore swimsuits and, together with several of the Israeli women, sang and danced with no inhibitions whatsoever. This was an almost unique opportunity for the women to relax for a few hours.
In a tented area, with traditional Arabic music playing in the background, the women and children joined in circles and danced with peals of laughter overcoming the music. In parallel great fun was had with giant soap bubbles and face painting (Spiderman was the most popular among the boys) and nail polish – each finger a different color.
I started dancing and the mothers and girls joined in, circles of devotion and joy and especially lots of healthy and healing laughter. It was a moment of pure happiness.
From there everyone went to lunch, each family sitting together. I sat with Meyer's family from Ramallah. The food was delicious, and we were all very hungry. I asked Mayer's mother when she had last been served in a restaurant and she replied that this was the first time in my life. She continued that this is the only day of the year in which she does not cook, or clean, or do other household tasks or taking care of a sick child.
Suddenly I heard my name called from a nearby table. A beautiful boy with bright blue eyes called me. I look and he tells me his name, Tamir, and hugs me. He is 18 years old now. The last time I saw him his condition was difficult, and we feared for his life. Today he is healthy, al-Hamdallah.
After lunch the children were entertained by a noisy clown, ice cream cones were distributed by the boxload and a meters-long balloon was given to every kid to finish things up.
And suddenly there was a certain sadness in the air, because it will be another year until the next event is held.
The father of a sick child: This is the only place we can allow ourselves to be really happy. Every family here has a sick child, people must not criticize us for this day in which we allow ourselves to enjoy life.
And I had one word stuck in my head throughout the day and even after, "happiness".
Our warmest thanks to Elene Segal and Alona Baidani Auerbach for the splendid work they did in organizing this event.
We wish to also thank "Children of Peace" for their generous assistance in making this day possible.