This designated blog post is there to guide you through, and explain my variety of different posts which I wrote throughout the 10 days which I spent in Hebron, Palestine. The post will be categorised chronologically with a summary as well as a reflecting comments. I am hoping that this will help you, the reader discover my journey through the culture of this incredibly diverse and tension stricken country.
14 Nov 2016
Day 1 was filled with travel, and I was nervous. My nervousness, only increased when I saw the amount of guard towers, soldiers and general army throughout the West Bank. Once I had gotten over that concept, I was straight away overwhelmed by the openness that the people of Palestine showed me. I still distinctly remember the children shouting up to me. Looking back, I wouldn't agree with my statement that Palestinians are incredibly open. They are incredibly generous and very kind, once one gets to know you; however before that they are timid. This however, based on their situation is understandable.
15 Nov 2016
I dived head first into the shoe factories of Hebron, visiting over ten within a day. The people were filled with pride as I looked through their facilities and listened to their stories. The factories were filled with modern machines and lots of work stations. However, the majority were empty and not in use; this is because of their incredibly small market. The factories within the West Bank are only allowed to export to Israel; thereby narrowing down the market substantially.
16 Nov 2016
On my third day in Hebron, I met Shaban; the man who I would be spending the rest of my time with, and also the man who made sure that I would have the best possible time; which I really did have. Shaban spent the day showing me Hebron by car, explaining the history and the tensions within the city.
That was also the day, when I decided to learn Arabic, in order to guarantee the best integration possible when I visit again. So far I have started to learn a few critical phrases so I am definitely making progress.
17 Nov 2016
Today was the day, where in my opinion I managed to shoot some of the best photos over my 10 days at the leather tanning facility. Also this was the day where I met the people who I would now call my friends. Mohammed, Omar, Yazeed and so many others who spent the evenings in the PlayStation cafe which is run by Muhammad. The tanning facility really fascinated me, and it is definitely a location which I want to return to. The scale of the washing machines, and the great transition which the hides went through fascinated me.
18 Nov 2016
Shaban was invited to a wedding during my stay in Hebron and he decided to take me with him. The wedding had over 1000 guests, I was rather shocked, by the masses. Everyone got served rice and lamb. This got devoured within minutes. After that we proceeded to visit the Natsha family house. This is the gathering point for the 30,000 family members, this time they were discussing their scholarship fund; which has supported over 600 students totally over $400,000. Shaban also explained lots about the high cost of living in Hebron, due to the limitations and double tax as goods are imported through Israel.
It was after this day, that I realised just how much Shaban was trying to integrate me into everything, to show me his life and make me feel as comfortable as possible. Along with Muhammad, these were the two guys who did their absolute best showing me around. A true example of this is Muhammad's friend Omar, who couldn't speak English and I not speaking Arabic spent 5 days together using hands and feet to communicate yet we still managed to have a good time together.
19 Nov 2016
By this point in my journey I had known Shaban and Mohammed for 5 days. I was starting to feel comfortable around them, and I was hoping that that is how they felt towards me as well. Using this opportunity I decided to slowly but surely delve into the culture and fears of the Palestinian citizens. The resilience to the tensions which have been so prevalent throughout the last decades, really got to me; as one can't tell in their normal lives just how much it truly does affect them. They seem to be incredibly happy and warm hearted people yet when delving deeper there are so many more fears which they face.
20 Nov 2016
Shaban asked me whether there was anything that I was particularly interested in seeing. The only thing which entered my mind was "The Cave of Patriarchs" which is also known as the Abraham Mosque. This is where prophet Abraham resided for decades and also the place he died and was buried. Thereby this mosque is incredibly precious and important within Islam. Yet we were unable to go, because the Israelis have blocked off the mosque. Once again highlighting how the past tensions are still very much on going.
21 Nov 2016
Shaban spontaneously decided to show me the city of Bethlehem. I was surprised as I had presumed that it would need to be a day trip, however it was only 15 km away which just illustrates how small Palestine is as a whole. Bethlehem is very similar to Hebron based on the landscape and architecture yet there are vast amounts of tourists. We also visited the Church of Nativity (the birthplace of Jesus) yet because of vast renovations only the Grotto was accessible to the public.
22 Nov 2016
Hebron is a modern city with a 3000 year old history; thereby making it one of the oldest cities worldwide. On that day, we explored the vast history which it offers. The city is filled with narrow alcoves and tight passageways, which was designed specifically to ensure warmth with the extreme climate changes of plus 35 in summer and minus 5 in winter. Yet only 30% of this beautiful historic part of the city, was accessible as the rest was bordered of by the Israelis. Also the old town has been internationally funded by European governments to guarantee that the historical heritage would remain in good condition.
23 Nov 2016
My last day wasn't special. Muhammad, Omar, Shaban and I just spent a nice day together cherishing the last 24 hours. We grilled some chicken, relaxed with a hookah and sat in Muhammad's PlayStation cafe, thereby doing what we had done pretty much each and everyday which is why it was so nice. Thanks to that day, I have fond memories of the time I had with new friends which I was able to make in the last 10 days.
Whilst curating my photos totalling 750 shots, I realised that there were two clear series. "The Shoe Factories of Hebron" and "Hebron and the cultures of the Palestinians". It is obvious to me that "The Shoe Factories of Hebron" is a much more compelling topic photographically, so thereby this will be the series which I am focussing on. However, I will be adding the other photos in a separate category to showcase them to people interested. When looking back to this incredible journey I am thankful, and so appreciative to the people who welcomed me with open arms, showed me their home and did everything possible to make me feel as welcome as humanly possible. So once again, a huge thank you to everyone that showed me around, helped me out, attempted to speak English as I couldn't speak Arabic (but I'm learning!). Overall I can't say thank you enough for everything, especially my father for supporting me to be able to go on this journey. I have made friends and am going to be back, speaking Arabic very soon to continue on this project and get back to my friends. Thank you for reading this blog giving me the opportunity to tell you all about my experiences. I was so happy with people expressing support about this space. I will continue updating this blog, with further projects and news about my photography!