The day children walked for Palestine

By Al Qalam Reporter

Durban Palestine activist Nadia Meer prefers to work more in the background than bask in the limelight, but last Sunday she and her core team made history by pulling off one of the most innovative and unique global campaigns that drew focus on Israeli injustices.

Nadia, who heads the Palestine activist group, 2SunsShamsaan, conceptualised and organised The Global Walk United For Freedom on Durban’s beachfront which was held simultaneously with Johannesburg, Cape Town, Ladysmith and Pietermaritzburg along with Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Spain, and Turkey.

What was unique about the concept was that people around the world could watch live feeds of the Freedom Walk on the 2SunsShamsaan Facebook page.
Activist Yasmin Suleman was the regional co-ordinator while Nadia handled the global connections.

It took two months of active planning, negotiations and seeking permission and licences for the event in each city, including working out logistics, before it all came together. On top of that, there was a powerful social and mainstream media blitz which started weeks before the events.

On the day of the walk, people started arriving early on Durban’s beachfront and there was a festive atmosphere as scores of colourfully dressed children walked happily (with their parents) along the beach promenade chanting “free-free Palestine.” And on the other side of the world – including in Gaza – children did the same.
On Durban’s shore, the walkers stopped by to watch a giant commissioned sand sculpture which read: “I Love You Palestine – United for Freedom”

This was the first time a project of this magnitude was organized that linked children across several SA towns and cities along with their counterparts overseas.
Asked whether the Freedom Walk would be repeated next year, Nadia told Al Qalam she and her team would do an assessment and perhaps find other creative ways of maximising awareness of Israel’s apartheid-style subjugation of the Palestinian people.
Meanwhile, Al Qalam also interviewed Amani Ahmed, the Gaza coordinator of Shamsaan’s Freedom Walk who said she was overwhelmed by the turnout in Gaza City.

“This aim of this walk was to draw the world’s attention to the Palestinian cause especially our children and their suffering, to show the world what our young children have to face through living under Israeli Occupation. Young children in Palestine are daily experiencing death, injuries, destruction of home, schools and hospitals. There is a lack of electricity and water and we are living in an open prison too,” she said.
Asked to describe the event, Amani said more than 200 children had gathered with their small Palestinian flags on Alshalyhat Street – on the Gaza beachfront – which was the starting point for the 2km walk.

“They were in high spirits…and hoping that the world would notice them and hear their peaceful desires for a peaceful life.”

The first procession of children was followed by another group who walked holding their colourful umbrellas. “It was meant to give a simple message of peace, love and joy to the whole world and saying: ‘we are here and we want to live like other children in the world’.

At the end of the walk the children wrote their messages and signed their names on a giant map of Palestine.

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