By: Intimaa Al-Sudoudi
There is an established fact that shapes every human being’s belief and gives him a smile that persists despite all challenge and obstacles: that nobody can muzzle the sun or extinguish freedom.
Israel, occupation, bloodshed, power cuts, poverty, siege, division, etc: All of these frustrations seek, in every single minute, to smother the voice of the community and marginalize the primary role of youth. Fortunately, Palestinians usually expect these difficulties, and still find their own path to live and to express themselves as “normal” human beings. Nothing can consign them to darkness or kill their dream for a better, peaceful, and colorful future. If they close the borders and announce a decision to put the whole Gaza Strip under solitary confinement, Palestinians dig tunnels. If they kill parents, the sons sturdily continue their Via Dolorosa . If they plow the trees, the seeds naturally grow and blossom. Every time, there is a new trick to continue, and a new brush to paint a vivid image out of the Guernica. Ahmad Balousha and Mohammed al Sheikh Yousef are great examples of such free voice and educated personalities who are fighting with their words, enhancing the popular resistance. I met them a couple of days ago for more explanation and a clearer idea about their new project I’ve accidentally seen on YouTube, it’s inspiration, and the message, hope, and fear they want to convey.
“We want to express our identities and our stolen voice, ” they said. “We will speak out about our problems, needs, hopes, and duties to both local and international society as Palestinian youth who have our own dignity and means to survive. Actually, we have tried various means to express ourselves, like poetry, prose, meetings, institutional work, social media, and videos. But right now we are working in a new program which will give us a wider scope of expression and freedom of opinion. It is called Shareeda. For anybody who doesn’t know shareeda, it is a famous traditional Palestinian game everyone used to play in his or her childhood. It can be played with two people or a whole group. The main idea of this game is escape: one has to run in order not to let himself be caught by somebody else.”
Ahmad and Mohammed described Gaza’s situation as shareeda per excellence. “The majority run away without destinations,” they told me. “Their fear is the only thing following them and triggering their movement. A lot of reasons push them to escape, or to behave exactly like shareeda players. Fathers run out of their houses because they couldn’t fulfill the needs of their families; companies’ owners close their offices for many reasons (their cornerstone being the siege); patients run out of hospitals because of the lack of medication; children run out of schools to support their families by selling trivial things in the streets like biscuit, cigarettes, gum, and chocolate; and a lot of people run out of Gaza and its sad memories.”
“So in this program, we will wander the streets with a camera and a firm belief that every human being has to express his or her problems, needs, hopes, sorrows, etc. For sure, we will face a lot of people who are not willing to talk, or to look at the mirror, criticizing their own lives, and see the real image of Gaza. In this program anybody can talk: We will not arrange any meeting or topic. Everybody will have the chance to express himself or herself without any fears or limits. Shareeda’s aim is to reflex Gazan society as it is, without any flattery or exaggeration
Ahmad and Mohammed believe in the prevalence of social media and the remarkable change it effects. “We have witnessed many innovative materials and powerful ideas spread worldwide via Facebook or Twitter, in addition to various blogs covering social issues,” they said. “Nobody can deny the power of social media in enlightening peoples’ minds and encourage them to talk about their rights. At the end of the day, youth bang on the walls of the tanks and shout for democracy and freedom.”