As young diaspora, we are in a unique situation where our hearts belong to our original country of Palestine, but due to unfortunate circumstances our immediate families have migrated to other parts of the world. Besides being unexplainably attached to Palestine, many of us are lucky enough to have immediate or extended family still living in Palestine. During the KTH Leadership program, we were given a great opportunity to spend a full day with our relatives. For some KTH members this was their first time ever meeting their loved ones who resided in Palestine, making this occasion more special and lively. Here are some testimonials of that day from 3 KTH Leaders:
Sumaia E., Australia
“Family values are the heart of Palestinian living and culture. It is the glue which holds the community together, particularly in times of struggle. You feel it in the goodbyes, as hugs take that second longer. You hear it in the “بحبك” as families see their loved ones off to work and school. I saw it in the eyes of my family members as they welcomed me into their embrace. My family visit saw me making my way to Nablus. Famous for its soaps, knafeh and my cousin’s contagious laugh. As we drove through the streets, we blasted the music and wasted no topic of conversation. We arrived at my cousin’s newly opened restaurant ‘Mr. Izz’ and we ate until our stomachs were overfilled. Many of my family members came down, our laughs echoed thoughout the restaurant. We left to get a tray of the famous knafeh the city boasts of. YUM! I finished the family day by visiting the homes of 3 of my family members who couldn’t make the lunch. For some of these family members it was the first time we met, yet their love and care was as though we had always known each other our whole life. The 14 000 km distance between us never put a wedge between the love we shared for each other. Family day was the cherry on top of the trip, it was the reminder that I too came from the soils of Palestine.”
Dana Qamhieh, United States
“Family Day was a day much anticipated and unlike all the rest. Today was the day we would have the opportunity to reunite with family we hadn’t seen in years – if at all. Some of us were nervous, unsure of how our family would receive us after so long. Others were excited, looking forward to reconnecting with family we hadn’t seen in years. Despite this mixture of emotions, we all knew that this day would be a momentous one.
We started our day with a late breakfast, as various family members came from across the country to pick us up for the day. This would be our first time apart for the trip as we each travelled to different cities and villages across Palestine such as Jaffa, Tul Karem, Birzeit, Nablus, and more. Throughout the day we toured cities, had large family dinners, went to parks, and looked through old photos with our loved ones.
Without a doubt, we all had our own unique experiences on this day. Despite this, we shared in the opportunity to connect with Palestine not just through its beautiful land, but also its beautiful people. People who welcomed us with kind, open arms. People who deal with the hardships faced here every day yet keep their heads high in defiance. And above all else, people who understand more than anyone else that Palestine is our home and we aren’t going anywhere.
Huda Rabah, Canada
“Although my family lives 4 hours away from Ramallah in northern Palestine, that did not stop us from seeing each other while I was in the homeland. Being the only family I have left in Palestine I was eager and honored to meet them. While I anxiously and excitedly waited for them to pick me up, I imagined how our unpredictable day was going to turn out. As soon as they arrived we immediately embraced each other in a tearful, yet joyful meeting. It was as if I’ve known them my whole lives. Our connection came so naturally. We decided to start our day together by going to a cafe to grab a light breakfast and talk about our family tree and Palestinian heritage. I learned more about my family history that day than ever in my life. We decided to walk around the busy city of Ramallah and do some light shopping. Unfortunately we had to end our day after having dinner at a delicious local restaurant as my family had a long drive back to their small town of Dier Hana. Though the farewell was difficult and too soon, I knew that I would be back to Palestine very soon and I could see my family again, along with the rest of my extended family members that couldn’t join us that day.”