Alaa, Amneh, Aya, Fadia, Maha, Samira and Wafica are Palestinian refugees from the overcrowded camp Borj el Barajneh in Lebanon. They are also sharing their personal experiences in the new play called AS HAPPENED TO US.
They are seven out of 70 million refugees in the world. And because they are women they are the most vulnerable group of refugees.
This is due to women being more prone to violence and discrimination than men. Most often they are also the ones who are more likely to give up school, education, and future dreams and ambitions.
The conditions for women in Borj el Barajneh are not much different. The camp faces several challenges due to lack of proper infrastructure, and limited job- and educational opportunities.
“I am so confused. What should I do! Here I have my future, my work, my dreams, my hopes, but on the other hand I have my love, life, children, and home.“
By Aya, 24 years old
These are the words by Aya who is torn between career and family life. She loves her job at a kindergarten, but her fiancé prefers that she stays at home. Aya is now standing in the crossroads on deciding what is best for her and whether the relationship is worth pursuing.
While Aya is in the middle of a life changing decision, Samira’s story is about her husband who wears his heart on his sleeve.
His public declarations of love to Samira have given him the reputation of being sentimental, which shakes up the camps expectations of what a man is supposed to be like.
Gossip about her husband affected how she received his love gestures. She reminisces the time during their engagement, when she declined the roses, he gave her:
“I waited for my fiancé to come to my house with his bouquet in his hand. I grabbed it and threw it on the ground nervously and told him not to bring me roses again.”
By Samira, 52 years old
But he never stopped giving her roses. A gesture she in all honesty loved and lastly accepted with pride when she realized that prejudices from the camp should not ruin her relationship.
Social norms and unspoken rules in the camp affect the women’s life and decision making. Consequently, what do you do when you are in a relationship that limits your own ambitions? Why does gossip and prejudices affect our relations to each other?
These are simple questions with complex answers. Even though the women only speak about their own experiences, their challenges yet seem very universal and recognizable. We are all bound to social norms – whether we live inside or outside of a refugee camp.
AS HAPPENED TO US has been on tour throughout Denmark with great success and sold-out tickets. The tour ended Thursday the 30th of September.
It has been a great honor having the women visit us. We admire their courage and honesty. Thanks.
If you have any questions, you are more than welcome to contact our project manager Leonora Wulff-Jørgensen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Directors: Sophie Ramløv Barclay & Wahid Sui
Stories written and performed by: Alaa El Uwaiti, Aya Qasem, Amneh Beiraqji, Fadia Loubani, Maha Mourra, Samira Yassin, Wafica Loubani.
Translators: Fadia Loubani & Sophie Ramløv Barclay
Lighting and Sound: Mohamad Ghazal
Video and Photography: Jean Hatem
Duration: 1,5 hour
Language: Arabic & English
Funding: Palaces and Culture Agency, Danish Arts Foundation, Wijhat – Mawred Culture Resource & the Embassy of Denmark in Beirut