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Recreating the Children's Theatre of Jenin Refugee Camp

Press Release: Friends and colleagues of Arna, community leaders in Jenin Refugee Camp, and the local staff of a child rehabilitation centre are recreating Arna’s children theatre in Jenin in order to educate, encourage, and empower the children; that is: to provide them with a “real” childhood, with creative means of expressing themselves, with some light and hope.

“Arna Free Theatre” association

25 Aug. 2005

THE ARNA FREE THEATRE

We, the members of the “Arna Free Theatre” association, wish to announce that we intend to recreate the children’s theatre in the Jenin Refugee Camp.

In the spirit and memory of Arna Mer Khamis we want to rebuild the theatre destroyed by the Israeli army in 2002.

Arna Mer was born in 1929 to Jewish parents in what was then called Palestine. Soon after the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, she began a lifetime of campaigning for peace, justice and human rights in her homeland - which most often meant acting and speaking out uncompromisingly for the rights of the Palestinian people.

It was at the time of the Palestinian uprising, or ”The stone Intifada”, that Mer-Khamis saw the need to establish centres in the Jenin refugee camp for children affected by the violence around them. In 1988 she founded the organisation ”Care and Learning” to respond to their needs.

In 1993 Arna was awarded “The Alternative Nobel Prize” in Sweden for her work. She used the award to build and finance a children’s theatre in the camp. This theatre enabled the children to: “bring the sun back into the palace”— as their first play was called.

Arna Mer-Khamis died in February 1995 after a lengthy struggle against cancer.

In August 2005 we met with friends and colleagues of Arna, community leaders in Jenin Refugee Camp, and the local staff of a child rehabilitation centre about recreating Arna’s children theatre in Jenin in order to educate, encourage, and empower the children; that is: to provide them with a “real” childhood, with creative means of expressing themselves, with some light and hope.

In its rehabilitation role the theatre will also be used, in conjunction with the rehabilitation committee in Jenin, for speech therapy and various therapeutic drama programs and as a space for the committee to expand their work, rehabilitating disabled children.

Let Arna’s cry for justice, freedom, and peace echo in the hearts and minds of the children of Palestine once again.

We call upon relief and welfare organisations as well as social, political, educational, and cultural NGO’s, not to mention private citizens, to support us in our effort by donating funds, services/expertise, and relevant materials. No donation is too small. Non-profit conduits are available throughout Europe.

 

"Our principle is to serve the child: to turn the pyramid [of education and authority] upside down"

Arna Mer-Khamis (1930-1995)

 

Members of the “Arna Free Theatre” association:

Abed Al-Raeq Abu Al-Hayja: Deputy Governor of Jenin area and Director of the “Local Committee for Rehabilitation Of The Disabled Child”- Jenin Camp.

Amer Rahhal: Program Manager in the “Local Committee for Rehabilitation of the Disabled Child” - Jenin Camp.

Armando Darita: Filmmaker based in the UK working on alternative media projects and stories not covered in the mainstream media.

Dror Feiler: Musician, artist and composer. Chairman of the executive committee of EJJP (European Jews for Just Peace).

Frida Röhl: Actress director of the Tribunalen theater in Stockholm

Hiba Darwish: Media Coordinator Public Relations Office, Bir Zeit University

Jonatan Stanczak: Swedish and Israeli citizen, pediatric nurse at “The Children’s Hospital” in Stockholm and board member of “Jews for Israeli Palestinian Peace” in Sweden.

Juliano Mer Khamis: Lives in Haifa, an Actor, director Of the film ”Arna’s children”, was involved in Arna’s project In Jenin (1992-1997).

Mawan Isa Wishahi: Member of the “Local Committee for Rehabilitation of the Disabled Child”, and a member in the “Ministry of Youth”.

Mishmish Ori: Dress designer for cinema and television, was involved in Arna’s project in Jenin (1992-1997).

Nazmi Salem: Member of the “Local Committee for Rehabilitation of the Disabled Child”-Jenin camp