In this town where everyone knows everyone, you may meet Abu Rabee. If you tour the town he maydiscuss the history of "Marteen." Walking with Abu Rabee I learned about what I believe was an amazingly brave man named Marteen. Abu Rabee pointed to black and white posters of this man, sometimes he wore a mask or a bandana, and told me, in broken English of the patriotism and intensity of this man.
I guessed a Spanish man, "Martin," or maybe an Italian became an expat and lived here.
With the scent of frying falafel filled the air, Abu Rabee pointed ahead and offered me lunch. Delicious and less than $0.50, falafel sandwhiches with tahini, olives, onions, lettuce and savory pickled cabbage and caulifower are a lunchtime or anytime staple in the West Bank.
Continuing my tour, Abu Rabee and I walked by a few dozen posters, sketches, or graffiti of this famous intrepid soul. Soon, though, I realized I misheard Abu Rabee. The man wasn't called Marteen, he was Marteer. Hm. Marteer lived a long life of awesomeness, I supposed, his face was often quite aged looking in some of the images. And wait, I thought Abu Rabee said Marteer died in an explosion in Hebron, not Nablus.
Sweating and with tahini on my shirt, I started smelling like my own lunchtime staple. I looked up and saw one poster of this man Marteer—and realized it was a woman. Wait. Oh. These countless pictures decorating the town are not celebrating some expat. They're celebraitng martyrs, people who died fighting for Palestine.
This town is Deheishe Refugee Camp, right outside of Bethlehem, UNESCO World Heritage Site and place of Jesus's birth.
When you envison "refugee camp," you may imagine hundreds of people living in tents, waiting to return to where they were born. However, Deheishe has been a steadily growing concrete town since the tents were traded for small concrete structure in the mid-1950s.
15,000 live here.
Two doctors, two schools.
87% unemployment here and he highest percentage of residents with college degrees in the West Bank.
They get water delivered twice a month. Most families run out for at least a few days each month.
It's here that I worked for the Summer of 2011.