Smiles from a Refugee Palestinian Camp


One door opens in the narrow roads can take you to multiple houses belonging to many families

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?When you are coming back to your home, think of the others

?Don’t forget the camp people

?When you are sleeping and counting stars think of others

?There are people don’t have place to sleep

Mahmoud Darwish

When we study the modern architectural models, full of all excitement and suspense elements, where all the modern planning theory are applied, where there are important green areas, surrounded by home-gardens, models which are so suitable environmentally, we always got confusing answers about the size of the people belonging for the place. Therefore many times we found that citizens of the modern sustainable cities don’t belong very well for these spaces, and they have major problems in their ability to fully integrate there. On the other hand when we take a look to places where poverty, deprivation and suffering reign, we are totally surprised by the ability of the people there: they belong to those places fully.

The refugee camps in Palestine are considered to be one of the places suffering from poor architectural and environmental condition. Something which makes it so hard to describe them as liveable places. The humanity situation is so bad. Those areas that have high tendencies to survive and to increase, the average of the family members is 7 people per family, and they live in 80 meter square architectural places, the neighborhoods there so close together, the linking roads narrow enough mostly one meter, with no home gardens.

When you are walking along these camps confusing emotions touch you. That’s for different reasons, things you hear, see and smell. All of these senses play an important role in that. You see a group of children playing on one side, and they reflect the absolute integration. You can see in there eyes certain tolerance with full love, you can figure by their shapes that they belong to different families. They wear different kind of clothes worn by the poor. One of them is barefoot, clearly because his father cant buy shoes for him, so he plays without it. Different smells and you could not establish from which home they come from, because they are too much close to each other. When you see a young man besides his poor home you also see a nice amazing smile shaping his lips: this smile reflects an absolute belonging for the space. this smile again shows that the young poor feels like he is living in one great palace not a small poor apartment, therefore you get confused: how can he keep smiling despite being so poor?

One door opens in the narrow roads can take you to multiple houses belonging to many families, and when you visit this camp for the first time, you are not able to establish which home does this window belongs to. Its so close together it seems like all the families in the area are in fact living in one big home divided between them in strange geographical method. Just the people living inside can realize it, once you visit one of these houses they tell you that they are living in this house for years, since its not completely finished yet.

How is it that those who are sleeping on the floor can compete with the richest people when it comes to happiness? Their answer is always that “despite everything you see, we all know each other”. “Who needs help? We all can help him”, “all of them love each other”. The meaning of loving the space in this universe is a wonder that justifies the power of the society in creating relationship between the one and the space. However in these places one can “through his relation” make space relevant so that it substitutes many of the relevant material spaces such as the beauty and richness of architecture.

This young man who is planning to get married “which is not a trivial project in term of his culture”. Despite his poverty you could not see that it is very difficult to decide it. Because he knows clearly that the community could help him, so that building of adjacent home, which is attached to the main family house, doesn’t have the same meaning for other societies, thus he can, despite everything, supply the minimum necessary raw material, on the other hand you will see many friends from the camp would help him in the construction of his small house, which will probably not be bigger than 20 square meter. And at same time this house has not the essential properties and features needed by others in their future house. Just a single bedroom with a small bathroom, converts a complicated life to a logical simple life. this logic neither needs a complete warm full winter nor absolute protection against the rain.

At the same time, this community carries inside its architecture several social drawbacks; many times this architecture causes several problems and confusion between its citizens ,sometimes being too much close to each other stresses the people and make them escape from the neighbors disturbance by replying the same disturbance , make them fight with each other but at the end they can control these problems since the environment where they occur is surrounded, and they don’t want to pollute these environment which is cumulated through years, and they clearly know that breaking these social relations drives to feel that the space is too narrow and the conditions are difficult.

Some people of Palestinian camps worked hardly and gained a high scientific certificates, many of them became successful business men and got rich, many of them could visit many cites all over the world, and when they decide to build their modern houses, they decide to do that near their camps and the main elevation of this architecture is directed to the camp, many of them have several explanation for that. Some of them said “We love the smell of this space, others said “when we go back to our real home we will destroy it with the camp at the same time”, while others said” we could not feel the happiness out of this space”. Near our loved one and community.

Its so difficult for any researcher to analyze all the events that are faced in places of this kind; generally the poor architecture reflects complete poor life. At the same time who lives inside saves his right to have the happiness at the maximum. The father refuse that his kids sleep without painting a nice smile on their faces. and always he promises them of their right of getting a beautiful future but that needs sacrifices, love of life, love of each other, and enhancing the ethics, to sleep beside each other even they are a lot, he asked them to forgive, living peacefully, the simple father asked them to be the most wonderful human being that can be shown to the world, and remind them to think with other pitiable people living in rich places who cant smile, and many birds cant find their homes yet.

MURAD TAMIMI / HEBRON


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