Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tour of Jerusalem with Darfur Refugees

On Sunday I went around Jerusalem with a group of Sudanese refugees, mainly from Darfur. They have been in Israel a while, but are mostly stuck in the moshavim and kibbutizim that they work in.
They are mostly cool people with interesting stories to tell and intresting perspectives.

There is a bit of a language barrier though. They speak their tribal languages, Sudanese Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, and some speak some level of English, and some even can put very simple sentences together in Hebrew.

The tour was with an experienced tour guide. It was very interesting to get a tour of Jerusalem from a Non-Jewish perspective. The refugees are mostly Muslim, but there area few Christians. So, we did go to the Cardo, but the main focus was the Temple Mount (as the Haram Al-Sharif) and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

I was upset by how many of them smoked, but considering that most of the other volunteers with us smoked, it was hard to view it so negatively. Most of them say they got addicted in Egypt, some still in Sudan, they say that they know its bad and most want to stop, but they say that under the stressful conditions which they are in, it will have to wait. Its a pity, because it is a waste of their hard earned salaries.

The fact that they are supporting themselves is a matter of pride. Nir tried to offer to buy some of them lunch and when they refused, he later offered to buy some of the Christians who weren't allowed on the Temple Mount some tea, they insisted on buying some for him.

A lot of the Sudanese bought the cheapest item they could find for lunch in the rova, but were unwilling to receive any money from anyone or an offer for a better lunch....hopefully some day we will be able to say the same of the gangs of beggars in Jerusalem.


howie said...

I love it

Lirun said...

awesome story..

as a grandson of a sudanese jewish woman - kind of makes me proud..