Gaza participants shine under Brazil's sun

It was not easy for Nida’ Abu Al-atta to make the decision to leave her family, go off to the World Social Forum Free Palestine in Porte Allegre, Brazil, and talk about the challenges she faces under the occupation on a daily basis. The Egyptian-brokered cease fire between Hamas and Israel had just entered into force hours before her planned departure, and little besides the destruction and overall terror hovered in her memory.

But once she made the decision to go, Nida’ joined four others struggling to get out of Gaza, as well as colleagues traveling from The West Bank, East Jerusalem, and 1948 areas, to represent Palestinians at the World Social Forum Free Palestine in Brazil. There, they would have the opportunity to talk about their vision for change and a better future.

One large family

“I was so overwhelmed to meet with my fellow Palestinians in Brazil. It felt like re-uniting with my own family,” says 30-year old Nida’, who currently works as the international relations and cooperation officer for a nonprofit organization in Gaza. “The forum exceeded all our expectations; the language used by all the supporters was very much in line with our own,” she says. “It is a completely different popular movement, where everybody supports an end to occupation!”

Youth civic engagement program

Through its youth civic engagement program, AFSC works with partner organizations such as the Health Work Committee. Nida’ is among the active leaders who have joined the program from Gaza, empowering youth to influence change and act as agents of peace and justice.

The delegation's to Brazil visit was facilitated by AFSC, which believed that youth leaders could meet in an open space where social movements, networks, and non-governmental organizations could come together to debate ideas and share experiences freely. The total delegation of 15 Palestinians represented the various strata of Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and 1948-areas in Israel. Several workshops and demonstrations took place, tackling the daily realities of Palestinians from political prisoners’ plight, home demolitions, and movement and access restrictions, among others.

Thanks to this experience, Nida’ was able to make her voice heard, and now, she can network more with other youth activists from different parts of the world. She believes that it is through such nonviolent means that the struggle to end the occupation of her beloved homeland will succeed.