After several hours of travelling, we hit the anticipated desert terrain at Dqeyqa and bumped along for half an hour, wincing each time another piece of equipment rattled disconcertingly from the boot. As we pulled up we again noticed the reserved nature of the children confronted with people from outside of their tribe, but after an hour or so of time spent their trust was gained a little more and they shyly showed us around their herds of camels and livestock. Yet again settlements were a stone’s throw away, the angular architecture of the settler houses striking a stark contrast to the dismantled bedouin structures left in the wake of the armed Israeli Defence Forces.
In a tiny room without electricity we screened the children’s films followed by A Nomad’s Home, struggling between ventilating the tiny hot room and keeping the daylight out! But our audience remained undeterred, glued to the screened until the credits rolled.
Khishm al Daraj
Next we travelled half an hour to a neighbouring tribe who led us to a small newly built school, financed by the UNDP. Here the children came in floods, confused and fascinated by the equipment that we carried into their classroom, many jostling to help carry each piece. Over 100 men and children packed into the tiny classroom, but just as the children’s films began to get underway we heard a disheartening backfire, and the generator was down.There was a tense 20 minutes as all the men from the community rallied round with odd tools and various wires and began to dismantle the generator. Our team stood by on tender hooks watching as our most expensive bit of equipment became several pieces, until finally it was declared that the whole thing had been successfully rewired, and the screening could begin again.
A cheer went up as the whirr of the generator was heard again from the classroom, and we watched as some of the smallest children tried to grab at the images dancing on the screen. This time we chose to screen I am in Jerusalem, which was well received by the elders of the community, and Sheikh Yousef was keen to tell us how important he felt these screenings were, that, because of the physical and cultural isolation they experience their tribe is somewhat ignorant to other cultures and urban ways of life, and he felt that the cinema was a great way to experience new cultures while facing the restrictions of physical movement that are currently imposed on them.
As we began to pack away the sun was setting, and from the peak where we sat some of the men pointed out parts of the desert that they used to travel freely, herding their livestock, now sectioned off and forbidden to them.