Out of the Cage

Each time I pass by the Wall, I feel surrounded and suffocated. As a human being, I am imprisoned in a large cage closed from all directions. There is a small gate that allows me to exit at certain times but only with the permission of the jailer. And if the jailer allows me to leave, I stay restricted by locks which obstruct my movement. I am filled with frustration and helplessness.

The same questions come to my mind each time: Why we, Palestinians? Why should we live in this way? What did we do wrong to deserve this life? Despite all these negative feelings and questions, I always try to keep my energy and hope.  I strongly believe in the following: “There must be a spot of light in the midst of all the darkness”. This reminds me that hope makes us steadfast in life despite its difficulty and cruelty.

I am working at the Sumud Story House of the Arab Educational Institute in Bethlehem as a coordinator of the house. Our activities include collecting and documenting stories and information about the impact of the wall, and organizing anti-wall activities to challenge the reality imposed on us.

I support the women’s group at the Sumud Story House by helping to raise their voices. I organize peaceful advocacy actions in order to contribute to the removal of the Wall which is illegal according to international law.

I help in empowering women, youth and children, especially those who live near the Wall, so that they can express their suffering, hopes, dreams and ambition for freedom in all its forms. They share their stories with the groups that visit the institute as part of the Wall Information Center. Doing so the members celebrate and revive the Palestinian heritage and culture, communicate the justice of our cause and the steadfastness of the people in the face of occupation. Another motto I believe in is that of Pope Francis: “Build bridges instead of building walls.”

My colleagues and I collect human stories and put them on weather-resistant wall posters on the Wall. This so-called “Wall Museum” consists now of more than 200 posters with stories largely written by our groups’ members. They express daily life, suffering, sumud (steadfastness), Christian-Islamic living together in Palestine, people’s dreams, and wishes and prayers. This ‘museum’ extends along the wall around the Rachel’s Tomb area in north Bethlehem towards Aida refugee camp.

Through my work in this house and with the different groups, especially the women’s group, I feel that hope is still alive, despite the wall that surrounds us and the daily difficulties we are passing through. Advocacy actions and the raising up of voices in its various peaceful forms contribute to resisting injustice and help us in expressing our human and national feelings and ambitions. The last include realizing our right to freedom, especially the freedom of movement, independence, and the establishment of a state in which all citizens are equal.

At the end good triumphs over evil. That day will come soon. Then we will come out of this cage and work together as brothers and sisters to establish the values of justice, love, equality, peace and prosperity.

Claudette Mubarak
July 2021