Our work brigade has now been in Lebanon for four days, and in the camp for two days.
Upon our arrival, permission to enter the camp was refused by the Lebanese military even though all the bureaucratic steps had been taken: the reason given by the military was they are not used to such large groups asking permission to enter, but we suppose that political matters also played a role.
While we were staying outside of the camp, with the help of our comrades in Nashet we managed to arrange two meetings with Lebanese political parties.
The first one was with the Popular Democratic Party, a Marxist-Leninist party with a clear anti-imperialist outlook which supports resistances worldwide, and to whom of course the Palestinian Resistance is a crucial point; they also have been carrying on a cooperation with Lebanon's National Resistance. We presented our project to them, and they proposed to send a delegation of their comrades into the camp to participate in the work for a day.
The second one was with Osama Saad, leader of the Nasserist Popular Party and former MP, with whom we also spoke about the importance of the Palestinian Resistance and of international cooperation in its support, and to whom we presented our common project with Nashet, our association Sumud, its activist, grassroots nature and its differences with mainstream NGOs which get support from Western institutions.
On the second day we managed to enter the camp of Ein el-Hilweh and visit the building that we are going to renovate; together with Nashet we checked its condition and started preparing and organizing the renovation work: the walls and roof which needed fixing had already been taken care by them.
Then the brigade started its common work with the Nashet volunteers. Up to now (fourth day) we have prepared the walls, the windows and the doors for painting. We also started to renovate the electrical infrastructure. All the volunteers (from Italy, Austria, Germany, England, and the Palestinians) cooperated in the works and created a joyful and motivated atmosphere. In our free time we stayed together, chatting about various subjects, sharing experiences and learning a little of each other's language.
We also participated in cultural-political activities: on the third day we had a workshop on the rights of Palestinians in Lebanon led by a representative of the Youth Advocacy Policy, an NGO which focuses on this issue and acts on a legal and informational level against the violations of such rights, while on the fourth day we visited the graves of the martyrs inside the camp and took part in a discussion on the history of the Palestinian question from the Nakba to this day lead by Zafer al-Khateeb, chairman of Nashet.
We plan to continue our work on the building according to our possibilities as volunteer associations, and to have more cultural and political activities aimed at creating mutual understanding between the volunteers and greater political awareness (hopefully we will manage to visit the south border of Lebanon to witness the effects of the last Israeli attack).
22 August 2009, at 1:00 (refugee camp of 'Ein el-Hilweh)
Source and photo gallery: www.sumud.org