I inherited the business from my father, so I’ve been working in this trade for 45 years. I hand make every kind of product for horses, sheep, camels, and donkeys. My grandfather did this work too. And now I teach it to my sons. I like it because it’s artistic. But, also one must be clever and always inventing new processes. In the past, we would have to import camel saddles. Imports sometimes hurt the animals. We did everything we could to make them as comfortable as possible. Now we can hand make the saddles here. In the end, animals can’t talk. So we look at them very carefully to make sure they are not hurting.
I am 48 years old, I am from Hebron and all my life I have been working in shoe making. During the First Intifada, I was imprisoned twice, for the first time in 1988 serving six months and again in 1991 serving 18 months, for my political involvement in Fatah. During my time in prison, I was not able to see my family and I was tortured by the Israeli Authorities. The physical and psychological pressure that the soldiers put on me while in prison was the worst part of my incarceration.
I work from seven in the morning until sunset every day. I do not feel that I have any 'free time'. Any time outside of working is spent looking after my family. I have four children, two daughters and two sons. Three of my children are blind. One of my daughters scored 98 in her high school exams and is now studying English at university. She says that she does not want her vision impairment to stop her from achieving her goals.
Are we occupied, are we free? We don't know. The effects of the occupation are apparent in the marketplaces and the old city. They have turned this city into a strange place. - Mustafa Abu Subeh
I became interested in science in the eleventh grade. Now, I'm entering my third year of university, studying applied biology-specifically technology and genetic biology. I'm working on two projects: one about bio-gas, in which we develop bacteria to make the fuel more efficient, and another about the effect of salinity on barley seeds. This summer, I'm teaching science experiments at a camp. The vinegar and soda volcanos were very exciting. I read a lot about the brain, and I'd like to get my PhD in biotechnology. Maybe I will become a neurologist. - Hadeel Salah
I am 7 years old, and I have a big family! My youngest brother is 2 days old. Arabic is my favourite lesson at school, but I enjoy reading and studying other subjects too. I play a lot of games at school, like hopscotch, skipping and hide-and-seek. There are other games that I play at home with my siblings and my cousins, who live nearby. We play with lego and other toys. We don't have a computer in the house, but I think this is a good thing because it means we play more with each other. I prefer winter because I love it when it rains and snows. The food that I like the most is shawarma, maqluba, kanafeh, and pistachios, but I only eat a little of the sweet things. One day my mother was away with the rest of my siblings, and I managed to make coffee for my father without any help! - Zainab Sider
I will be turning 88 very soon. Originally my Family was from Hebron, but I lived and worked in Jerusalem for 10 years. I was in Jerusalem at the time of the Nakba and had to return to Hebron because of the war. I remember Jerusalem before the Nakba, Jewish and Arab Palestinians lived peacefully together. We visited each other, we even invited each other to our weddings. During the time of Jordanian rule in the West Bank I was conscripted to the Jordanian Army. This was common for Palestinian men in the West Bank at the time. As a result of this I had to fight for the Jordanians in the 6 day war. In a battle close to Jericho I suffered a leg injury as a result of the Israeli Airforce’s use of Napalm. I still limp to this day. I started as a street vendor selling stationery in Hebron. Eventually, I was able to rent this shop from the owners and I have been here ever since. I learnt the trade of binding and covering books and had a very successful business from this shop for some time. After a two year curfew was placed on the marketplace by Israeli Occupation, business has drastically declined. My wife and I had 6 children, 3 sons and 3 daughters. Fortunately my daughters are married and live happy lives. I like to tell the younger generation about how things used to be for Palestinians. - Ali Omar Quawasi
I studied graphic design at Polytechnic University in Hebron. I have always loved to work creatively with my hands. After I graduated, I was looking for work on the internet and came across something called paper crafts. I was inspired by other people's creations and slowly began producing my own designs. I received tremendous support and admiration from family and friends, and they convinced me to start my own business. I now have a facebook page, called Alwan Jud (Good Colors), on which I display my creations and receive requests for products. In my daytime job I work as a kindergarten teacher, and I find the work very rewarding. I first began working with kids as a volunteer with the organisation, Happy Homes, which organizes summer and winter camps for children. I think the most important thing is to see the kids educated and happy, and I try to inspire them to discover their creativity and passions in life. In the future, I would like to focus more on teaching arts and handicrafts to the people of Hebron. I have found that I can create something out of nothing, and I think this is a great source of inspiration to draw from. - Fatima Shweiki
I work as an English teacher, and I teach primary school students aged 11 - 14. Being a teacher has taught me to feel compassion for my students and to watch the progress of a human in their development during such a sensitive period. In the future, I hope to complete further studies and eventually become a university instructor. I also have a legal translation license. The majority of the cases I translate are about the expansion of the settlements and violations against Palestinian people. My hobbies include playing video games on my PC. At the moment I am playing ‘War Thunder.’ I also enjoy listening to music. I have a huge music collection. I love metal! Some of my favorite bands are Metallica, TOOL, Dream Theatre and A Perfect Circle. I also really like Pink Floyd and I know the Roger Waters is very supportive of the Palestinian people. My love of metal music means I am not a traditional primary school teacher, but I hope I am the coolest teacher! Just like School of Rock, I see myself as the Jack Black of Palestine! I hope Palestinians are able to establish actual unity, that is, we are able to unify our human vision. - Ahmed Abu Hashhash
I am 20 years old and I am studying Civil Engineering at Palestine Polytechnical University. I love reading poetry and learning about everything, because I am naturally curious. When I finish my studies, I would like my own project to work on and to travel to Turkey.
I like to spend time with older and younger people because I love the innocence of children and the wisdom of older people. I recently watched a film called “I am not Cinderella” and I have been reflecting on it. I know I am not Cinderella. This is because Cinderella allowed her kindness and generosity to provide opportunities for her family to humiliate her. She didn’t try to change her reality. She waited for the Fairy Godmother to change her destiny and the Prince to save her. I won’t wait for that. I don’t want a happy ending, I want a happy life. - Abrar Zahdeh
I work as a field supervisor in an agricultural development association. I coordinate projects with women, schools and farmers often in area C [the area of the West Bank exclusively under Israeli military control]. Recently, we made a shop for women where they can sell clothes and cosmetics. On the upper floor, there is a beauty salon and sewing machines for women to use. The women buy and manage everything themselves. One of the challenges in this work is that there are some areas where we can't really reach people. We want to help, and the people there really need it, but it's forbidden to go there. I work for the people, but I'm not the government, my power is limited. My plan is to get a masters in management. In this way, I can make my own association to address the problems I see. - Aseel Bader
I just graduated from high school this year. I want to study medicine in university to become a paediatrician. I see a lot of kids suffering who deserve the opportunity to shape their lives as they want them to be. When I go to the hospital, I see people just waiting and waiting. I want to help those people in the waiting room. I studied in the U.S. during my junior year. It was a big decision forme, but I loved it. I want to know every single thing about all the places of this world. During my time in the U.S., I tried to impress upon people that we, the Palestinians, are ordinary human beings just trying to live our lives. I want people to know that Palestine is not an ugly place, but a place that you can visit, contrary to how social media and news reports portray it. I also want the international community to come here, because it's hard [for Palestinians] to get permission to travel. For me, being Palestinian gives me a lot of hope. I know I'm a strong person because I fight for life, therefore I think that I deserve to live it. - Nofouz Maswada