Health and Safety
Refugee Camp Volunteer Experience
Submitted by yazen.farha - sterling heights, michigan United States | June 18, 2015
Honestly this was an amazing trip. The children were awesome to be around. Granted they live in such a poverty, they are so full of life and energy. I loved being with them. After volunteering at the camp, I got to go on political trips. I got to see the holy sites, ancient sites, the separation walls, the check points, and the settlements. The housing conditions as a male volunteer were really good. The other volunteer and myself got to stay in a full house by ourselves. The home cooked dinners brought to the house every night were delicious. In terms of community impact, I felt like I made real connections with some of the kids there, but no real impact on the community in general. One thing I was confused on before arriving was the term refugee camp itself. The entire village was a refugee camp. I was volunteering at a children’s summer camp and I felt like that was deceiving. Going to volunteer at a refugee camp, I thought I would have been making a bigger impact on the community and that is one aspect where my expectations fell way short. In terms of health and safety, everything was perfectly fine where we were at. Only recommendation would be to bring some Motrin or Advil because we got really sore playing soccer on concrete with the kids all day haha. As for the social life aspect, we went out quite a bit the first few days but as the trip progressed, so did our social life. We got stuck sitting in the house pretty much all night after the first week and sitting there with nothing to do and no wifi got kind of difficult. Overall, this trip was not at all what I expected but it was still a great experience. I stayed for 2 weeks and that seemed like the perfect length of time. After 2 weeks worth of time, I feel like I would not have gotten anything else out of the experience. I would recommend this trip to everyone. Getting to see Palestine, the history, the youth, and the daily struggles Palestinians face is truly illuminating and is something you would never read or see unless you are there. My only caution would be is to realize you are volunteering at a summer camp. Not a refugee camp.
Love Volunteers responded to this review June 19, 2015 at 3:16 AM
Hi Yazen, Thank you for taking the time to complete this review. It's great to hear that overall you enjoyed the experience. We can assure you that you were indeed working in a Refugee Camp. After visiting we're sure you will agree that the Deheishe Camp is huge, like it's own little city, yet there is very few spaces for children to relax and simply enjoy being kids. The Community Center where you were helping is a refuge for these children, who on a daily basis are dealing with poverty and discrimination, whilst living under a violent and oppressive regime. Having volunteers around definitely brightens their days. :)
We are sorry that you felt bored in the evenings. However, it is important to remember that despite the social activities that are arranged each week by our local team, bringing joy to the children of Deheishe is the aim and focus of this wonderful project, rather than having an active social life. It is also saddening to hear that you felt two weeks (the minimum requirement) was the most you could handle, as past experience shows that the impact a volunteer can have on a project improves immensely with the length of time they commit to it.
Thanks again for taking the time to complete the review, and for the amazing effort you put in as a Love Volunteer in Palestine. By helping the children of the Deheishe Camp to learn and be happy you have helped an entire community that is desperately in need of international support.