There are kids everywhere you go here, playing in the streets, ruined buildings, waste grounds and also working in all kinds of jobs. I have seen kids manning scrap yards, garages, carting wheelbarrows on building sites and looking after shops.
There aren’t many facilities for them to be distracted by, there is no playground area, swing park or anywhere to run around. There are some places like a small cafe where the boys play on playstations and there is the makings of a fair-ground with a ferris wheel but it needs a fair bit of investment. All the trees were destroyed in the war, the rocky coast-line is in fact comprised not of rocks but mostly debris from the buildings destroyed in 2007, most vacant pieces of land become prime spots for fly-tipping as is the only river in the camp and much of the coast line so playing in the water is as filthy as playing on the land here. Palestinians, despite being surrounded the sea here, are banned from using boats, even small dingheys aren’t permitted by the Lebanese army. One potential source of income is off limits to them, nevertheless they fish from the rocks regularly. It would make such a difference if they could use boats or even for the kids to play on some small canoes or row-boats.
Zidane runs a kids club in the camp, he and others who help drive a an open-sided bus through the camp playing music, saying hello to people along the way and generally just having a laugh as much as possible.
The camp is 6 sq km so when you consider there are 30,000 residents in mostly low-rise accommodation, a large chunk of the camp is still in ruins, other parts are wasteland and other areas around the 3 Lebanese military checkpoints are blocked from being useful for security reasons, then you are left with a very small strip of land with very little breathing space. It’s quite shocking to walk the perimeter of the camp and to think that this is the horizon for all the children here for most of their upbringing, a polluted and bombed out few sq kms with next to nothing of real interest.
With the money we raise the goal is to provide safe spaces for the children to play. There are spaces available we just need some time and money to get these areas into decent condition.