Turn off the road just past a rich Israeli settlement with modern industrial agriculture onto a broken road and you find the Palestinian community of Fasayel, 2000 Palestinians living in poverty in Bedouin tents and concrete boxes. Their community has been razed by bulldozers three times. They must buy their rationed water back from the Israelis who have dug wells to empty the Wadi springs. We spent two days in Fasayel in the Jordan Valley with the Jordan Valley Solidarity. Accompanied by Rashed a leader of JVS, his sister, and two other women from the community who volunteer with JVS. Rashed’s sister, recently released from prison told us her story of how she was accused of having propaganda in her facebook account and was arrested and kept for a couple of months, including 3 weeks of solitary confinement. Her family paid 7000 Shekles ($2000) for her release.
On day one, we perform at a school in Al Auja Village for 140 kids. Kids ages 6-10, smile shyly the minute we make our way out of the car and bring our stuff into the school, they gather and trail behind us. They love the show so much they keep getting closer to us and the teachers have to keep asking them to move back. They especially love the magic in the show, as well as David’s juggling extraordinaire! David does a bit we call ‘Orchestra’ where he gets 4 kids from the audience to form the orchestra which he then conducts through his juggling tricks—the fun in this bit is how things go wrong and the pay off when they finally sound like a crazy clown orchestra conducted by a clown!
We drive back to Fasayel, pick up lunch—Maklouba! A traditional Palestinian dish, maklouba literally means ‘upside down’ and it’s chicken, vegetables and rice cooked together and just before eating one flips the pot upside down and the chicken now sits on a mountain of rice and veggies. It is delicious. Our hosts from JVS drive to a river in the middle of the dessert hills and there we picnic by the side of a little stream that was once a river.In the afternoon we help with the labor at Jordan Valley Solidarity where they are rebuilding the community center. We make mud bricks, mix mud mortar, and haul both up to the platform where Rashed is rebuilding the second story wall.
The next morning we perform for the children in Fasayel. 50 kids gather from the surrounding tents and the desert rings with laughter. Another afternoon making and hauling mud bricks, installing a fan, and improvising solutions. The drive back to the Ramallah area is slowed down by a mysterious checkpoint closing at the entrance to the city. When we arrive at Fidaa’s house her wonderful family asks for a show for a show so we perform for them, 50 family members on the patio. They love it!