Through Children's Eyes: Children's Rights in Shatila Camp

In the summer of 1998, Huquq al-Nas (Rights of the People), a supplement of the Lebanese daily al-Nahar, decided to do a special issue on the Palestinian camps in Lebanon. One of the topics to be dealt with was children's rights in the camps. A graduate student at the American University of Beirut who is a volunteer teacher in Shatila camp, Mayssoun Sukarieh, was asked to undertake this assignment. She suggested getting the children themselves to write little pieces, each on a particular right they felt was denied them or severely compromised. Huquq al-Nas liked the idea.
    The following testimonies were written by seventeen children between the ages of twelve and fifteen. Three times a week, these children meet with Ms. Sukarieh to study English and Palestinian history at Bayt Atfal al-Sumud; a local nongovernmental organization that operates nurseries and dental clinics and sponsors other activities for children in the refugee camps of Lebanon. With Ms. Sukarieh's help, the children have set up a lending library in Shatila and correspond by e-mail with Palestinian children in Dheishe camp in the West Bank.
    Before the planned special supplement on the camps could see the light of day, Huquq al-Nas folded. But the pieces had been written, and JPS decided that they were worth publishing. They were translated by Muhammad Ali Khalidi.
    The pieces are preceded by Ms. Sukarieh's account, taken from her classroom notes, of how they came to be written.