Palestinian youngsters bring gifts to Camden school on first UK trip

A group of Palestinian youngsters visited La Sainte Union school on their first trip out of Jerusalem

A group of Palestinian youngsters visited La Sainte Union school on their first trip out of Jerusalem - Credit: CADFA

A small group of Palestinian children made their first trip to the UK to visit a sister school in Parliament Hill.

Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association (CADFA), a charity based in Fortess Road, Kentish Town, welcomed its first youth exchange group from Palestine since Covid at the end of June.

Six boys and two leaders from Abu Dis Boys' School spent four days in Camden and Islington before travelling onto Northampton, Lancashire, Mid Wales, Shrewsbury, Worcester and Hereford.

Six Palestinian boys with two leaders made their first trip out of Jerusalem to visit Camden and parts of the UK

Six Palestinian boys with their two leaders outside Cafe Palestina in Kentish Town, joined by a boy from the Sobell Centre in Islington - Credit: CADFA

The boys come from four of the Palestinian towns and villages involved in CADFA’s Sonunu project.

During Covid, their schools linked on Zoom to schools in the UK, exchanged experiences and together made small films and a calendar.

Girls from La Sainte Union School, in Highgate Road, are twinned with the Abu Dis Girls’ School, who were not part of this visit.

However the Abu Dis pupils sent some art work to their LSU friends which the boys delivered on their first day in London.

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“This is their first time outside Palestine,” said Abed, the Palestinian group leader. “It is so exciting and so different. It was very hard for them to imagine being in a country where you can travel miles without a checkpoint, and astonishing for them to find that young people here don’t know what a ‘settlement’ is or what ‘occupation’ means.

“Our young people think it is normal to grow up among checkpoints, settlements, the Israeli separation wall, divided families. The situation is unacceptable and also dangerous - dozens of young people a year are killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers with complete impunity.

"This visit to the UK shows our young people that that is not normal and that they also deserve their human rights.”

The youngsters experienced a variety of experiences including rowing, football, trampolining,  paddleboarding, and visiting the National History Museum.

CADFA launched in 2004 and set out to make links between Camden and Abu Dis in the Jerusalem suburb. 

“CADFA has done dozens of visits like this over the years in order to promote human rights in Palestine,” said the charity's director Nandita Dowson.

“Meeting young Palestinians helps people here in the UK to understand the
violations that Palestinians are suffering and encourages people to work for human rights there.”

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