Category: AUB


It’s great seeing all these online petitions asking for fast internet and declaring that internet should be a HUMAN RIGHT for every Lebanese, but it becomes a bit ironic seeing all these people living within the Lebanese territories struggling to achieve the very most basic human rights from food, shelter, medicine, and proper living…

I volunteered to visit the Shatila camp in Beirut, to meet some of the families in their homes, and to learn about their dire conditions. This event was organized by Insight club at AUB.

Trying to make our way through the camp’s maze and to avoid the dangled combination of electric wires and water pipes, we grabbed tightly our hearts in one hand and our cameras in the other and entered the families’ dimly lighted homes.

The sad grimaces on the faces of the eight children welcomed us in the two-room house. We noticed that they don’t attend school. The mother explained that she can’t afford the schooling costs although the “UNRWA provides primary education for the population of officially registered camps whereas secondary education was never considered to be within UNRWA’s temporary mandate.” (http://prrn.mcgill.ca/research/papers/abuhabib.htm )   She sells candies with her eldest daughter at the streets in order to afford medication for her mother who is seriously ill.

http://youtu.be/9MYhP_OEy2Q 

This woman ,featured in the video (link above), suffers from osteoporosis, urinary problems, glaucoma, and depression. She explained that she had a medical prescription, but she is postponing buying the medicine till next Ramadan hoping that some charity could help her afford it. She doesn’t have anyone to support her financially. Her depression, as she told us, became severe especially that she doesn’t have electricity in her house and when it is dark she goes down to the street to avoid darkness… and maybe the darkness of her life.

Among the constraining conditions Palestinians suffer in Lebanon is that they can’t own property, they can’t work in every profession and they aren’t eligible for social security. According to the Palestinian Najdeh Foundation, “unemployment rates are at about 60 percent of the total population and only 7 percent of working Palestinians have fixed contracts, 90 percent of which are with UNRWA [the UN Relief and Works Agency]. The rest are essentially employed on the black market.” (http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArchiveDetails.aspx?ID=193163 ) The volunteer guide from the Palestine Red Crescent Society explained that it is illegal for Palestinians to practice medicine in Lebanon so they either end up traveling or working “illegally”. The main aspiration for most Palestinian youths wanting to go to university, or for those who have completed it, is to emigrate which is becoming more difficult with the increasingly xenophobic immigration laws.

Shatila camp had suffered brutal massacres and is still is today with the drastic humanitarian conditions. On 16 September 1982, under the watchful eye of their Israeli allies who had encircled the area, Lebanese militiamen (preferably not to mention who) started a three-day slaughter battle that left innocent civilians dead.

Looking at the names of the martyrs in Shatila camp

The 95-year-old woman reminiscing on her abject escape from Palestine during the 1948 Nakba

After we finished our visits, we engaged in focus group discussions. We agreed to work on awareness campaigns within the camps and tutoring sessions including extra-curricular activities for youth along with other activities and long-term projects.

Little Maryam's smile: a mixture of pain and joy

In an attempt to study the effects of media dependency, students from the Digital Media Literacy class taught by Dr. Jad Melki at AUB volunteered to take part in staying without media for 24 hours. This meant they couldn’t use their cell phones, their laptops, T.V, ipods, etc… To ensure that they don’t do any mistakes, we confiscated their phones. 3 graduate students including me were responsible for interviewing the students after they blogged about their impressions regarding staying unplugged for 24 hours. We also briefed the class about our findings.

Here are some of my findings regarding their behaviors:

Checking the media outlets was more part of everyday routines and habits rather than a real need. Actually 6 students expressed this thought. They referred to an instinctive impulse to check for their phones and to turn on the PC… A student expressed this by saying: ” I was used to having the television on even if I was not watching the television, my Facebook was always on even if I was not at my laptop and my phone was always in my hand even if I didn’t use it. ”

Some started hearing illusionary sounds including hearing their phone ringing their BB’s messages…etc…  At some point a student said: “While studying at the library I kept hearing the sound of my blackberry messenger ringing over and over in my ears…. it was haunting me!”

The students were longing for music. Music, as shown, is an essential part of students’ lives especially when driving. Nearly half of the class expressed their desire for music during the 24hour-media deprivation. A student said that; “I realized how dependant I am to music! I was going nuts in the car without music. I tried singing to myself but that was not so helpful.  ”

The free time was filled up with activities including house chores where 4 students reported doing this; in fact, one has reported cooking for 2 hours just to kill time. 3 students reported having long showers. 8 students either slept earlier than usual or took naps. Also 7 students mentioned in their articles their effort to “kill time” or “skip time” as if it was a temporarily unreal situation they had to live. Not knowing the time was a distraction since they usually check the time on their phones. 8 students reported having problems in waking up or asking someone to wake them up since they use their phones as alarm clocks. Some also said that they had hard time figuring out the time where one was constantly asking random people about the time.

Some reported having deep thoughts like thinking about the future goals and even writing about the goals they wanted to achieve next year. 7 students reported either concentrating more on their studies and in class or spending time reading.

All in all, T.V was the least missed media outlet while the phone was the most missed one.

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