The month-long holiday of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast every day from dawn to dusk, provided a good excuse for the members of the Leadership Development Program for Palestinian teen girls, generously supported by the Middle East partnership Initiative (MEPI), to take a rest from the basketball court and diversify their activity repertoire with a cultural outing in Jaffa. All of the girls were indeed fasting, so on August 15, 2011, these young women visited the Jaffa Salon for Palestinian Art, a gallery that showcases the works of Palestinian artists. At the gallery, the girls participated in a gallery tour, lecture and workshop with renowned artist Nihad Dabeet.
The workshop began with a tour of the art gallery. Girls got to see work by artists including (in addition to Dabeet, himself), Ahman Canaan, Dina Matar, Nabil Anani and Mervat Issa. Dabeet led a lecture and discussion with the girls about concepts that are fundamental to the Palestinian people, and how these concepts are represented in the artists’ works. The discussion focused particularly on the expression of political themes as well as on gender identity and the role of women in Palestinian society.
After getting inspiration from the many artists’ personal expressions, the girls received an opportunity to express themselves through art, by designing wire sculptures that represented them as women in Palestinian society. Fifteen-year-old Doha said “My sculpture represents a woman who is strong both physically and emotionally.” Ala, age 14, created a woman with extra long arms, representing “opening my arms to opportunities and to all that I wish to achieve in life.”
The outing culminated with a tasty Iftar dinner by the Jaffa sea-side, where the group feasted on fresh, tasty fish. This field trip is one of many activities PPI – ME has led as part of the Palestinian girls’ Leadership Development Program, which aims to help guide Palestinian teen girls into adulthood as strong, confident civic-minded Palestinian women. As Doha stated above, through a combination of basketball training, overnight workshop retreats and enrichment activities, these girls are strengthened “physically and emotionally.”