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> Malvina Jawal Awad
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> Eerste Communie op Nakba Dag
> First communion on Nakba Day
> Bethlehem Blog: Recreating life
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> The Shoes (Jabra Ibrahim Jabra's boyhood in Bethlehem)
> No Time to Say Goodbye, Gaza
> Hope for Palestine's hills
“Because of the mud, we were obliged to sit cross-legged on the chairs”
I am a Palestinian woman. I was born in Bethlehem and lived and grew up in the town of Beit Jala. I was raised in a humble and simple family full of love, spirituality and sacrifice. We shared our love with all people, Christians and Muslims; there was no difference between us and we joined the same school, St. Joseph School, and we studied, graduated, played and had fun together.
I was hired as a teacher in a United Nations school for Palestinian refugees. After the Naqba, the uprooting of Palestinians in 1948, I taught for a long time in tents set up for Palestinian refugees because there were no classes for them. These tents belonged to UNRWA schools in the village of Al Fawwar which is approximately 15 km from Hebron city to the south of Bethlehem. I used to go at four o'clock in the early morning in order to be on time. We suffered a lot at that time, especially in winter when the rain entered the tents and all of us became dirty of the mud. We were obliged to sit cross-legged on chairs. I appreciated my students and colleagues a lot. In those tents we all lived the same moments of sorrow and happiness.
Then I was transferred to another school in Bethlehem, where I taught for seven years. I served the community as a teacher and educator and my students became traders, teachers, lawyers, or pharmacists.
Then I left this line of work and entered the field of medicine. I became responsible for the biggest medicine store in the West Bank. There were more than twenty employees with different qualifications.
My life at that time of serving the community was busy, hard and serious. My family and I helped many poor families because life at that time was difficult and there wasn’t enough income for some families in Bethlehem..... During the first Intifada, at the end of the 1980s, we were obliged to send many more medicines to hospitals and pharmacies since there were so many injured Palestinians.
At that time I spent my life in economic prosperity and social responsibility. However, when the Palestinian Authority took over, all the work, transport and communications with the Israeli traders stopped. We couldn’t sell our medicine to the merchants in Israel anymore. The main cause of the decline in our work in the Gaza Strip and even in the West Bank was the debt that had to be paid to us and which would have helped to re-open our factory. The road closures and deteriorating financial conditions in the West Bank did not allow us to collect our money. So as a result we were obliged to stop working in that field.
After that I retired from work, and I started engaging in social activities to fill my spare time. I attended seminars and conferences in several institutions, I taught Arabic language for foreigners and I participated in the activities of the Arab Educational Institute.
As I said before, I faced many difficulties in my life, In fact, the greatest difficulties were community traditions which underestimate a woman’s abilities and strengths.
I am proud that I am a Palestinian woman and that I proved to myself and to the community that I am equal to man since God created us as equals.
Melvina Jamil Awad