Palestinian Child Day in Habla
QALQILYA, 15 April 2005 - For 10-year-old Malak, celebrating Palestinian Child Day meant a day of fun and happiness. Like most of her friends, Malak came to celebrate Palestinian Child Day in the safe play area set up by UNICEF in Habla School near Qalqiliya, in the northern West Bank.
“I came here to celebrate Palestinian Child’s day because I want to play and have fun,” she said, with her big brown eyes full of expression. “I have not been out of the country for years; my dream is to visit my relatives in Jordan with my brothers.”
Moa`taz a 10 year-old boy with big baby blue eyes, is not aware why this day is important, yet having a safe place to play with his friends is special as Habla lacks such facilities. “I’m happy to be here; I can play and practice my favorite hobby which is playing football. I do not want to leave Habla, I love my town, and I do not want to live any other place. I want to grow up to be an engineer and build beautiful houses in Habla.”
Said Mujahed, a 12 year old boy: “On this special day I want the world to see and know what the Palestinian children are going through. I want them to know about our suffering and pain, I want them to help us grow up and live like other children without fear and suffering.”
Said Ayman, the coordinator of the activities: “in the current situation, we want to give the children all kinds of recreational activities to express themselves and relieve all kinds of stress they experience. We want them to be children - mostly that Habla lacks safe facilities for children to play and meet their peers.”
Habla is a village affected by the Israeli security barrier which is having an impact on more than 3,000 children in the area. Children and their families have restricted access and mobility to areas outside Habla.
The impact of Palestinian child’s day activities could be detected by the excited voices of the children as they chanting with broad smiles. Some children were dancing Palestinian folkloric dances surrounded by colorful decorations made specifically for the occasion.
UNICEF is supporting Palestinian Child Day activities throughout the West Bank and Gaza. Activities include face painting, sports, story telling and screening of plays, as well as outings which are rare for many of these children who have lived in a crisis environment for years. The event is funded with a contribution from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).