Two Palestinian students have been sharing their experiences at a discussion session at community library New Cross Learning, New Cross Road. Nour Hamayel from Ramallah, 22 and Wadea Suleiman from Nablus, 23 have both completed their undergraduate degrees in the West Bank and are in the UK on a four-month international exchange programme, supported by Erasmus Plus and the Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association.
CADFA, which became a charity in 2005, works in the UK to promote awareness about the human rights situation in Palestine and raise issues with policy-makers. The association manages events, exchange opportunities and campaigns to spread awareness.
Clare Coyne, a freelance trainer and New Cross resident, visited Palestine in autumn 2015. Determined to stay connected to the difficulties of people living there, she met Nour and Wadea and decided to put together a special evening, where Nour and Wadea were able to share their life experiences.
Clare said: “It felt and still feels inappropriate for me to talk about how life is for Palestinian people under the occupation. It is so much more meaningful that Nour and Wadea were available to share their experience of their daily lives, what it’s like to go to school and access higher education, and the reality of living under a military occupation.”
Nour said: “Education is one of the main rights that Palestinians are deprived of, due to movement restrictions, and constant attacks on universities and schools.”
She said: “In London I let go of all my worries and instead of worrying about morning time calculations and military check points, which will force me to miss early classes, I worry about how I can change from the Northern line to the Piccadilly line.”
Nour and Wadea are also spending time teaching Arabic to encourage cultural interaction – while making the most out of life in London.