Scenes of Everyday Life In Bayt 'Affa
The following excerpts were taken from the “life history” of Um Jabr Wishah, one of seven “life histories” collected as part of an oral history project, as yet unpublished, of seven women living in various parts of the Gaza Strip who were old enough to have clear memories of the pre-1948 period. The women were selected on the basis of some previous knowledge of them and their stated willingness to take part in the project. The “histories,” collected over the last six months of 2001, range from 25,000 to 40,000 words and cover the narrators’ everyday life and experiences through the successive wars and disruptions as well as their thoughts about the future. Each woman was interviewed a number of times, with the tape of each interview transcribed and translated before the following interview. The memories were set down exactly as they were told; the only “editing” consists of integrating details or elaborations supplied during subsequent interviews at the appropriate chronological place. The life histories were collected by Barbara Bill, an Australian who worked with the Women’s Empowerment Project of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program starting from 1996, and Ghada Ageel, a refugee from a Gaza camp now working on her Ph.D. in Middle Eastern politics at the University of Exeter in England. Um Jabr, who was in her early 70s at the time of the interviews, has been living in the al-Bureij refugee camp since 1950. Future issues of JPS will carry excerpts from Um Jabr’s story regarding the 1948 war and about organizing prison visits in the 1980s and 1990s.