It’s Friday night in Aida refugee camp in the West Bank, and the grey-walled, fluorescent lit basement has come to life. Children and teens play a game of cat and mouse under a rainbow-coloured parachute, then race through a course of bright plastic hoops on the ground. Later they chase each other trying to pop the balloons tied to ankles of their friends. At the end of the evening everyone kneels on either side of a roll of paper the length of the room to paint.
It’s a fun evening for the kids of course, capped off with cookies and juice boxes to take home. But watching the children play is also a helpful tool for staff at the East Jerusalem YMCA. It’s a chance to see how children are dealing with the intensity of life in a refugee camp.