New York, November 29, 2010–The West Bank city of Jenin is looking a little brighter after 25 local OneVoice Palestine (OVP) youth leaders put the finishing touches on an inspirational mural created over the weekend.
The mural, located downtown, is an artistically colorful response from the city’s youth, when asked by Project Coordinator Antwan Saca to imagine both Jenin and a sovereign Palestine as a nation seven years after independence, in 2018.
“When I first asked questions, many of the youths didn’t know how to answer,” explained Saca. “It was as if they had already lost hope and the ability to imagine an end to the occupation. After supplying a little guidance, they started understanding the project and how to react to it. As a city, Jenin has suffered a lot in the past six years, so psychologically it was fulfilling to see our activists sending clear messages and sharing personal views about how they wish to imagine Palestine in 2018. Free of occupation, and full of equal rights.”
The mural’s location was coordinated between OVP and the Jenin Municipality. The space is owned by a local Palestinian businessman who donated it to Jenin’s civilian police force (many of whom were on hand) as a medium to promote messages of state and institution building, a requirement the mural overwhelmingly achieves.
The purpose of the project, OVP Executive Director Samer Makhlouf reminds us, “Was to inspire the youth of Jenin to play a role in the building of their state. Contributions made by youths inspire not only themselves but the rest of the community. They put something on the mural that was honest, true and personal. It was their vision, for their future, for their city.
The creation of the mural was a three step, three day process. Samih Abu Zakieh, a community leader and accomplished local artist, first introduced the youth leaders to the proper methods of creatively exporting their visions and emotions on to paper. The artists then shared their works and drew an entire outline of the mural on to the building. The following two days were spent animating the mural with injections of revitalizing color.
“It was a breakthrough to see the youth leaders take ownership of their work of art, and sign it as Shabab Jenin, ‘Jenin’s youth’. They considered it a personal contribution to the city from the collective youth of Jenin.” said Saca.
The Jenin mural is the first of many artistic projects OVP is launching in association with the Imagine 2018 campaign. The goal of the murals project is to have youths from every major city in the Palestinian territories creating drawings and murals that represent the visions of their own communities in 2018.
Imagine 2018 is OneVoice’s multiplatform campaign that depicts visions by Israelis and Palestinians of 2018 if a peace agreement is signed versus maintaining the status quo or worse.
“The Jenin mural was the project pilot,” said Makhlouf. “Next week we are going to build off its success and start a new one in Nablus. We want this project to exist on a national level for all to be inspired by and feel ownership toward Palestinian state building. If it can start in the mind it can turn into a dream, and ultimately into a reality. I would like to thank OVP staff and volunteers who are deeply content observing the Palestinian youth sector dreaming again, and I would like to thank the trainees for their inspiring spirit.”
So how long will the mural in Jenin stay up?
“As long as it doesn’t get washed away by the rain,” insists Saca. “And we’ve already weather proofed them.”