Willow Heske

Willow Heske (Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center – DWRC): Willow graduated from Rutgers University-Newark with a BA in history. As the daughter of two union workers, Willow strongly believes that labor organizations play a crucial role in forming modern democracies and that unions can provide an important first step towards socio-economic development. At the time of her fellowship, Willow was pursuing a Master’s degree in International Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Her concentration was on international security policy with a focus on conflict resolution and modern state formation in Africa and the Middle East. She was also studying the Arabic language.



KIDS IN NI’LIN

29 Jul

I was all set to write about the West Bank municipality strike which just took place here. Today I spent my day in Azzoun, interviewing municipal workers about their demands and meeting with union organizers. On the trip home to Ramallah, which is long and hot and extended by two unnecessary checkpoints, I thought all about what I was going to write, I had everything planned out in my head, but that’s the problem in Palestine, nothing can ever be what you plan for, nothing can ever be what you want it to be.

When I got home Hindi told me a 10 year old boy was shot dead in Ni’lin. He told me the kid was shot in the head with live ammunition by an Israeli soldier. I don’t know how to react to this. I don’t know how to explain what I feel, and this is not my child, I can’t even imagine, I can’t even begin to comprehend what his own mother feels.

I read things here constantly that break my heart. I see things that make me want to pack up and go home. I have done hours upon hours of interviews where I can’t even imagine the life the person talking to me has lived, even though they are sitting right next to me and I know it is all too true.

I try to stay focused on labor, on economics, on the rising consumer price index, I try to direct the interviews to social protection, but Palestinians have too many stories to tell.

There are so many stories, so many heartaches, so many problems, and there are only so many battles you can pick. How do you choose what means most to you when everything here is so inexplicably valuable?

For me, my battle is Ni’lin.

Ni’lin has my heart here, and although Ni’lin does align with my Advocacy Project plan for DWRC, the truth is I keep going back to Ni’lin because I am in love with those kids.

Palestine has a lot of cute kids, and one can argue that kids everywhere are cute, but the ones in Ni’lin, I don’t know what else I can say about them, I don’t know how I can describe them to you, I don’t know how to tell you how they make me want to never leave Ni’lin.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to get funding for a long term project focused on the kids in Ni’lin. I have thought about getting every kid I meet in Ni’lin to tell me a story. I have thought about asking every kid in Ni’lin what they want. I have thought about building a youth center in Ni’lin where every kid can have access to internet, blogs, and video cameras. I have thought about just letting them show me what they see, letting the world see what they see, letting the world see that soon enough, if the construction of the wall does not stop that these kids in Ni’lin won’t see what they see, that what they see will be forever altered, that it will be forever changed.

I wonder if the wall will change them. I wonder if they will stop being what they are, if they will stop being who they are, or if it will make them more of what they are, more of who they are. I wonder how they can still be kids, how they can still find the time to laugh and play, how they find the energy to shout “hello! what is your name?” every time I encounter one I haven’t had the pleasure to meet yet, and how the ones I have met all can remember who I am, and are as equally happy to see me as I am to see them.

I wonder where they get this from, where they could possibly find this happiness, this trust, this love, but then I guess it comes from Ni’lin. Even now, as the kids that they are, they know what they have. And even now, as the kids that they are, they are not willing to let it go.

These are kids that know what is happening, that know what they are losing, and that know what has already been lost.

There is no excuse for this death. There is no excuse for what is happening in Ni’lin. There is no excuse for this loss of a life that should be able to be described as barely having been lived.

But kids in Ni’lin have already lived lives that are beyond the years they hope they can continue to live, that I hope they can continue to live, beyond the years that one of them will no longer live.

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Mimi Meslah, who thinks my name is Libya

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in 
Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3146/2715141358_ab9fd7f512_m.jpg

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Kids in Ni'lin

Posted By Willow Heske

Posted Jul 29th, 2014