Dream Project 1: I want to be
Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon: a brief history
As a result of 1948 and 1967 war and the Israeli occupation of Palestine, one-third of the registered Palestine refugees, more than 1.4 million, live in 58 recognised refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (source:unrwa). There are 12 Refugee camps in Lebanon, housing an estimated half a million refugees. Dream Project was implemented in Burj El Barajneh Refugee Camp in Beirut, Lebanon.
Palestinian children are unique in that their political identity is a large part of who they are on a daily basis; especially because their community lives with the dream and anticipation of the ‘right of return’ on both an emotional and political level. This has a very important cultural significance in insuring that their rights to a homeland are not forgotten and the hope of going back remains alive … but what happens in the mean time?
Dream Project 1: in context
Palestinians refugee in Lebanon are limited by the lack of opportunities (such as living within the dense urban sprawl, inability to own land or build in the refugee camps and the denial of Palestinian employment in more than 72 skilled and unskilled professions in Lebanon (in 2003) and the belief that their futures are elsewhere, in Palestine or other parts of the world. As a result of immigration, the children’s dreams are loaded with history, often connected to a romanticised image of Palestine: they want to be farmers that return to farm their lands or soldiers that will liberate it. Occasionally they will relate to social power positions such as professionalism. Dreams of becoming doctors or teachers are common especially when they are young as it will allow them to imagine clearly and practically how they can change what they cannot change currently.
However, these dreams often fade as they grow older and are filled with the knowledge of economic and legal obstacles towards getting there… the Dream Project aims to address personal dreaming because it can have a positive impact on their present situation in Lebanon as well as their futures in general. This is particularly relevant with regards to their commitments towards searching for these dreams and believing that they are possible to achieve. This project aims to address the possibilities, to show that small-scale participation and expressions (that are enjoyable and creative) can really be effective in improving the every day life conditions around them.
As such the project aims to encourage the belief in dreaming through the investigation of the process of (de/re)-constructing our ‘dreams so as to unravel them into separate ingredients that can be expressed and visualised in several ways that initiate endless ideas that make us see our dreams as an ongoing process that takes place all the time, and not merely as something in the future that is definitive and grand.
The Dream Project—or process of unravelling ‘dreams’—was investigated in two consecutive workshops, each concerned with a different aspect and scale of ‘dreaming’; the first is a personal exploration, the second is a spatial and social one.