In a few weeks, I will be travelling back to Lebanon, where I will document the daily life of 24 year old teacher, Ouyoun Shabayta. Ouyoun is based in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el Helweh, in the south of the country. I met Ouyoun at the end of last year on my previous trip to Lebanon, when I was working for the American NGO, ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid), who operate in the camps in Lebanon, Gaza, and The West Bank.
Ein el Helweh is the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, with an estimated population of over 100,000. This number has increased in recent years due to the Syrian crises. It was established in 1948, to accommodate the Palestinian refugees from Northern Palestine. Ouyoun Shabayta’s grandparents were made refugees from Palestine in 1948 and her family have lived in the camp ever since.
She received her education in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) schools in the camp. She wanted to study media and communications to become a reporter. However, she was unable to because of the restrictions imposed on Palestinians in certain areas of work. She eventually enrolled on an applied business computer course at the national university in Lebanon. However, after three years, unable to get any work in the corporate sector, she moved into the humanitarian sector. She initially worked with the NGO, Action Against Hunger, then moved to ANERA, where she has the position of field co-ordinator in Ein el Helweh.
I will document her daily life, both at work and with her family. I will be talking with her about ambitions, her thoughts (and her family’s thoughts) about their roots in Northern Palestine.