“My friend is from the Jalazone refugee camp,” my youngest sibling told me, in Arabic, one day as I picked her up from her last day of school this past May.
I remember a performer from Sard’s* August Open Mic Night, who was also from the Jalazone refugee camp. Before he started rapping with a friend, he told the audience, “No one is born a refugee.”
“Oh, yeah? She comes all the way here from there?” I asked.
“Yes. One of my friend’s is from Bethlehem, too. But sometimes, they don’t come. There are problems.”
I know the problems very well. During my undergraduate years, I have had professors, colleagues and friends who weren’t able to come to university because of “problems.” These problems manifest in blocked roads, sealed refugee camps, or closed checkpoints.
“What’s a refugee camp, anyway?” She asked.
“Well…” I sigh. “A refugee camp is a place people live in because they were…” I search for the right words. There are no right words.
“Because they were kicked out of their homes.”
“Why was my friend kicked out?” She asked.
“No, not your friend. Her grandparents…or her parents were probably kicked out.”
“Well, you know how there’s an occupation? A lot of people were kicked out from their homes. They can’t go back, so they now live in refugee camps.”
“I see. Do they go back?”
I sigh. “They can’t. Not now.”
“Then when?” I wonder if I was that curious when I was her age.
“Well, one day.”
I’m not sure how to move beyond that answer.