Debka Comes to Derry~Lajee Center From Aida Refugee Camp

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Lajee in Derry


Photos by Rik Walton

Irish Friends of Palestine members meet with Lajee performers and artists from Aida Refugee Camp in Palestine. The 15 members of Lajee Center arrived in Derry earlier this week to perform at the Playhouse. The group is touring Ireland as part of an Arts & Cultural Tour.

IFOP Member Gerry MacLochlainn welcomes Lajee to Derry


Photos by Rik Walton

In an exciting and engaging programme of events, the dancers performed the traditional Dabka dancing for the Derry Audience. There was also and exhibit of their award-winning photography work depicting life in Occupied Palestine, plus a screening of films by the group and discussions about all aspects of the Palestinian case. Building on the success of last year’s tour, Lajee has organised a diverse and educational programme which is representative of Palestinian culture and life, and an insight into the work and activities of Lajee Center. The tour members are young active artists and dancers aged between 15 to 20 years old, with four coordinators and speakers.

Video and Photo displays

“RESIST to EXIST” by the Lajee centre’s Media project coordinator & award winning photographer and filmmaker Mohammad Al-Azza. His powerful work illustrates life through demonstration direct from within Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem.


Photos by Rik Walton

The exhibition will be at the Playhouse all day Tuesday 25th and at 7.00 the main Derry event takes place which will include a short film and an amazing performance by the youth of Dabkeh, traditional Palestinian dance.

ABOUT LAJEE CENTER

Lajee Center (‘lajee’ means ‘refugee’ in Arabic), was established in Aida Refugee Camp in April 2000 by a group of 11 young people from the Camp who wanted to serve the community. Lajee is a community-based grassroots creative cultural centre that works with new generations of Palestinians as they continue their ongoing struggle for justice and rights for Palestine and all Palestinians.

The centre began as a dream for its creators who worked intensively and with true Palestinian ‘sumoud’ (steadfastness) in order to make that dream become a reality. By April 2001, Lajee had rented its first premises, a former garage measuring 70 square metres that was to be Lajee’s base until 2009. In the same month Lajee was registered with the Ministry of NGO Affairs of the Palestinian National Authority.

The main aim of the centre is to provide refugee youth with cultural, educational, social and developmental opportunities. Its programs are designed in response to the particular needs of the community and the skills and abilities of its members, whilst always remaining in full support and defense of all Palestinian rights.

Lajee has built links with several local and international organisations which assist the center in conducting its activities. Local organisations include a network of active centres in Palestinian refugee camps that was established through Lajee’s ‘OUR VOICE’ project who are working collectively and creatively towards joint goals of freedom and justice, BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, the Refugee Service Affairs Committee, and several other Palestinian organisations and NGO’s. Internationally, Lajee has the working support of many organisations including the Mennonite Central Committee, HOPING Foundation, The Pontificial Mission, the Belgian Technical Cooperation, and Broederlijk Delen amongst many others.

Over and above Lajee’s relationships with organisations, the centre’s work and development would not have been possible without the incredible support we have received from many friends around the world. Individual people have, since the Lajee dream was born, stood by the centre through support of our work and goals in terms of solidarity, project development, and in several cases through financial backing. All these people to date, and all future friends, support our belief in grassroots people-to-people tangible and internationalist solidarity.

Lajee organises cultural, social, and artistic activities for youth in the Bethlehem area. While our activities are based in Aida Camp, we also have active members from Dheisheh and Al-Azza Refugee Camps, and the cities of Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, and Ad-Doha. Members range in age from young children of 4 years up to youth in their twenties. We continuously strive to open our projects up to new members from Aida Camp and the surrounding areas and expand our volunteer base.

The Center aims to develop social and rights-based awareness in refugee youth although our work is not exclusive to refugees; our projects and activities are open to all Palestinians. It structures and implements its activities in such a way as to eliminate all forms of discrimination against social class or gender. Activities are organised with the goal of fostering in the participants a wider understanding of the world in which they live, focusing on issues relating specifically to their own society, culture and history, as well as the global context. Our hope is to develop the social awareness of members, deepen their education, and provide them with the critical skills necessary for them to take on an active role in their society.

Lajee seeks to encourage and enhance the talents of members by supporting and fostering their cultural, artistic and rights-based development through our programs. We believe that by providing the new generations with developmental opportunities, we will give them the motivation and the skills necessary to pursue their interests and vocations through their future. All the Center’s activities aim to provide members with a key to their future and a conviction that they are the makers of their own future.

All our activities are organised by supportive members of the community, and our programs depend entirely on the voluntary efforts of our members, with some support from related institutions and interested individuals. Our full-time volunteers include several who have grown with Lajee since they themselves were child members and who know run projects and activities with the next generation.

enjoy more photos from their visit to Derry:


Photos by Rik Walton

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