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Last Updated: Tuesday May 31 2005 11:29 GMT

From Gaza to Dubai

Tamam

Tamam lives in Gaza City in the Palestinian territories.

She travelled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to participate in the Urban Children and Youth Conference for the Middle East and North Africa region.

Tamam wrote a diary about her experiences - click on the links below to see what she did each day.

  • Day One: My day of departure
  • Day Two: Spending the day in Cairo
  • Day Three: Arriving in Dubai
  • Day Four: The first day of the conference
  • Day Five: Making my presentation
  • Day Six: The last day of the conference
  • Day Seven: The journey back to Cairo
  • Day Eight: The difficult border crossing

    "First I thought I'd introduce myself before I start my journey.

    I am Tamam, I am in 10th grade, and I live in Gaza City. The Palestinian territories share its borders with all of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.

    Gaza is one of the oldest cities in the world.

    Many activities

    Although I was born in Romania I have lived in Gaza all my life, my dad is Palestinian.

    I am fluent in Arabic, Romanian, French, and English.

    My hobbies vary between writing and reading poetry, to reading politics and history, as well as listening to classical music and acting.

    I participate in almost all my school activities including educational, scientific contests as well as theatre and acting.

    The journey

    I am looking forward to my trip to Dubai.

    I will be travelling from Gaza to the Rafah Border by car, Rafah is 33km away from Gaza.

    I will be crossing Rafah into Egypt "the land of the Pharaohs" in to Cairo, the capital.

    My trip will take me a whole day, but the very next day I will be on my way to Dubai.

    Decision making

    I will be representing the Children Municipality Council (CMC) of Gaza City.

    So you know, the CMC provides opportunities for young people to practice their right in participating with decisions that affect their lives.

    During the conference, I will be presenting some of the difficulties that children face in Palestinian society.

    I hope you can tune in to my entries that I'll be writing about from my journey."

    Day One

    Finally the day of my departure to Dubai got closer, I can not help but think of all the new things that I am going to see on my way, but at the same time saying good bye to my family is hard.

    I woke up at six o'clock in the morning just to spend a few more moments with my family.

    My sisters Ingi and Fatima woke up with me, we went to my brother's room to wake him up too.

    They were all very excited for me.

    The Journey

    I got into my dad's car, who was going to take me to Rafah border which is 33km from my place, I expected the way to the border to be difficult and to face some obstacles and delays at the famous Abu Holi checkpoint.

    Luckily for me, it was a smooth trip and I arrived at the border on time to meet up with my colleagues who are travelling with me.

    At 10 o'clock in the morning we were finally on our way to the Egyptian border.

    Smiles came back to my face - I had no idea why!

    As we finished at the border there were young boys, carrying heavy luggage for money.

    I believe these children need to be at school, and study instead of being in the sun for long hours working - carrying heavy luggage.

    By 2 o'clock in the afternoon we left the Egyptian border and continued our way to Cairo.

    Sleep

    After passing three borders with a struggle, we finally got into the hotel in Cairo 12 hours later.

    We drove in uncomfortable cars, and the heat was unbearable. I thought to myself, 'I could have been in the states by now'!

    Finally I can rest and sleep - sweet!!!

    Day Two

    Cairo - what a city!
    Cairo
    Tamam travelled to Cairo

    I woke up early yet again after sleeping soundly all night, I rushed to the window to take in the marvel of this amazing city, it was alive with people!

    I could not help but imagine ancient Egyptians walking between the people in the modern time.

    I have heard and studied about Cairo so being able to see all this was truly amazing.

    The streets

    We walked in the streets all day, seeing the old and the new.

    I cannot wait to share this experience with my new colleagues at the conference in Dubai.

    At night, we had dinner at the Nile and I enjoyed it very much.

    Day Three

    The day to travel to Dubai was finally here.

    I felt ready to meet so many people from different parts of the Middle East and East Africa during the conference.

    Dubai is different than Cairo - it is cleaner with huge buildings and streets.
    Dubai
    Tamam says Dubai was very different to Cairo

    We arrived at the hotel, checked in and made our way to the youth preparation sessions.

    I participated in the session with the organisers and groups of children from Yemen, Egypt and occupied Palestinian territory (Jenin).

    I had a quick discussion with the participating children and we talked about our experience.

    Later on it was time to work on our presentation along with my colleagues.

    Day Four

    In the morning after having breakfast, I went to work on the presentation for tomorrow.

    Today is the first day of the conference.

    The first session started at 9.30am and the speakers spoke about the challenges that face children and youth.

    I learnt new things from the papers that were presented.

    In the second session, which was about education, one of the speakers talked about using technology as an education tool, which was exciting.

    At 5 o'clock there was a youth session where the discussion was very interesting.

    The time was limited, so I did not have chance to participate.

    Day Five

    Today was the most important day for the Palestinian delegation.

    We were about to present our experience on Children's Municipal Councils (CMC) to others in the conference.

    At around noon, the time of our session, people started going into the room.

    Wow! A lot of people entered.

    Public speaking

    At that time, I began having mixed feelings.

    I was happy and worried at the same time.

    I was happy that people are interested in our session and keen to listen to us.

    However, I was worried because I will have to talk in front of so many people! What will they ask me? Will they like our presentation? A lot of questions kept on running in my head.

    Excited and interested

    I spoke about CMC, its role, its objectives, obstacles and challenges that we faced.

    Then we talked about our recommendations.

    After the presentation, all participants in the session were excited and interested.

    They expressed their appreciation of our achievement and said how they did not expect that we, Palestinian children, could do all these things despite the difficulties and bad conditions that we are living in.

    Day Six

    Today is the third and last day of the conference.

    The most interesting part of my day was when I went with other children groups to the Child City in Dubai.

    I liked how much the city provides opportunities for children to improve and develop their talents and skills.

    They had a huge globe, and each country had a button.

    When I pressed the button, I could hear the language of the country, information about it, and the national anthem. It was amazing to me.

    Sang songs

    I rode the bus on the way back with young people from Palestine, Yemen and Egypt.

    It was an opportunity for all of us to have fun; we sang our favourite songs and told jokes.

    Never forget

    We enjoyed our time so much. I learnt a lot of things about their daily lives, their families, and how they live.

    I can say that I will never forget the people that I met in the past three days. We will miss each other.

    Day Seven

    It's our last day in Dubai. We all gathered for a farewell breakfast.

    Each one of us wrote some words to each other to remember.

    I was sad because I will miss all these nice people that I met during the three days in Dubai.

    I was astonished at how we can meet people just briefly and yet never forget them.

    We agreed to stay in contact with each other.

    Early start

    That evening the plane landed in Cairo.

    After our passports were checked without any delays or problems, we took a taxi to the hotel to have a rest.

    We planned to leave to Gaza on the same night.

    Day Eight

    At 2.00am we departed for Rafah.

    We arrived at 7.30am.

    It was a long trip to the border and a tiring one but it was not the most tiring one of the trip.

    The Egyptian part at the border was full of passengers.

    It was not organized very well, because everyone wanted to be the first to get into the first bus for the Israeli side.

    I managed to board the second bus at about 11.00am - it was full of people; women, old people, and children.

    I noticed that the number of people were more than that is normally allowed.

    Border crossing

    We spent about two hours in such an uncomfortable bus because it took a long time to open the gate for the bus to get to Israeli side.

    The trip across the border only took three minutes.

    Once across, they asked us to leave everything and just carry our passports.

    They called my name and I went into a hall.

    Waiting

    I handed my passport over at the passport check-desk and had to wait for two hours.

    I noticed that the next bus arrived, the passengers had their passports checked and left, while I still waited.

    20-hour journey

    Finally, a man called my name and he asked me about a coffee machine that I bought from Dubai.

    They spent one hour investigating the machine.

    Twenty hours after leaving Cairo I arrived home.

    Despite the difficulties and a long tiring day, it was a very nice moment when I saw my parents and my family."

    Tamam, 16, Gaza


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