A Photo Essay
Close to the city Qalqilya, the village, Jayyous, leans against The Green Line, with an uncertain future. As Israeli settlements spill into Palestinian land, the towering wall that boxes in Palestinians continues to grow. It snakes through the lands of farmers, typical inhabitants of Jayyous, denying them access to their harvests; a neat inconvenience for a primarily agricultural community. The villagers are neither here nor there, sporadically sorted into categories Area A, B, C. They rise and fall between access and restriction, curfew and permissions, acceptance and optimism.
At the edge of the village, on a platform of hope, a fresh energy rises and falls on the ramps of Jayyous’ skatepark. SkateQilya, developed to give the youth of Jayyous an empowering space, injects life into an otherwise dwindling village.
On one particular day, the creaks of olive branches and lemon trees are muffled by the sound of kids whirling around the skate park rehearsing their landings. It is show day and the park has teamed up with the Freedom Theatre to creatively merge the art of performance and storytelling with kinesthetic energy. The crowd of cheering kids and families are thrilled and erupt with well- deserved applause and some whistles. It is everything a fantastic piece of art needs to be: innovative, entertaining and thematically complex. The message of the play is freedom, and it is just like the Oud player strumming melodies in the background: sweet and desolate.
The magic of the performance lingers for a long but fleeting moment. As the sun dips into the horizon, one’s eyes drift over the walls of the skate park to view the not- so- distance blaring skyscrapers of a nearby Israeli city. As one sits in the village of poor infrastructure, the contrasts are ever- apparent. The skatepark offers an additional view: a panorama of two blatantly different worlds: one that rises as the other tries desperately not to fall.
As the young skaters race over the ramps, one does not only hear the sound of wheels tapping against concrete, but also a deafening silence, that won’t allow the promise of childhood to skate over borders and land on the flip side.