No Land, No Honor
By Farah Obeid

"Who doesn’t have a land, does not have an honor," that was what the elderly in the camp always used to say, but I never  comprehended its meaning. I only comprehended when I joined a Lebanese school. When I reached the Elementary level at school, my father put me in a Lebanese school thinking that the educational standard at  UNRWA schools was not good enough; he and my mother had learned there without benefiting much. When I joined that school, I met a lot of friends but as the days passed, I started to lose them as a result of  my being Palestinian. And because my accent was so different from theirs, they would leave me and go play with each others. Once the teacher asked me: "What does your father do?" When I told her that my father was a garbage collector, she changed and stopped loving me while my friends not only mocked and despised me but also called me "daughter of the garbage collector." This was a great source of pain for me and for my brothers and sisters and as a result of our daily weeping and complaining, my father quit his job. When I reached the intermediate level I moved to another Lebanese school. At the beginning, I used to talk to most of my classmates who, upon their knowing that I lived in Shatila and that I walked to the school situated next to the Makassed Hospital, started to mock me saying that I had a "complex." Once, a classmate told me that she did not talk to me because I was Palestinian, and Palestinians were the cause of the Lebanese war, and because we were refugees with no land or identity.

I always beg my father to let me join UNRWA schools with the Palestinian students but he says that I have to bear the difficulties in order for me to learn and return to Palestine. That is why I concede and bear people’s harsh words. But when I knew that they might naturalize us, I was afraid that I would become like my friends at school. I want to return to Palestine to have a land and an identity. Then nobody would dare mock me and say I am refugee. I want to return to Palestine because people there are kindhearted and simple.