This is Balata refugee camp. It is the largest in the West Bank and it houses 25,000 people in an area of 1 sq. kilometer. That’s about 22 football fields. Originally from Jaffa, this is what the UN provided for housing for the thousands forced from their homes in 1948. The people here are too poor to move out and make a better life for themselves. Please take the time to digest these pictures and try and imagine. They are not the best photos because it was dark, but they are enough.
The alleys in between houses are just enough to walk through. They do not get wider than the picture above and the picture on the right, as you can see, shows that some only fit people in single file. The entire camp is made up of these alleys. There are only two wider streets, one for the market and one for the schools, which are funded by UNRWA.
The new park and playground built by some Europeans in 2010. It is right outside the camp and provides open space for children to run around and play and adults come here to walk around the courtyard and hang out at the cafe. Before 2010, there were no recreational parks or spaces to just…breathe. The man who ran the Happy Childhood Club in Balata told us they were able to take some children to Jaffa for the first time in their lives and see the Mediterranean Sea, with the help of their volunteers.