Every year, Unison has provided immense practical support and solidarity to Lajee Center’s art and cultural tours around the UK and Ireland. These tours have provided an invaluable opportunity for Aida Camp’s young people and Lajee Center members to showcase their work and share their stories of life under occupation and the reality of the situation in Palestine with international audiences. This partnership between Unison and Lajee Center spans different projects and activities and has grown and developed over the years. From 2016-18, Unison invited Lajee Center to participate in an international football tournament in Belfast with other international and local football teams. For the past three years, Unison branches have fundraised towards Lajee Center’s art and cultural tours and hosted events and collaborative activities in Belfast and other cities throughout the tours, extending Lajee Center’s reach to diverse audiences. Most recently, Unison hosted an event as part of the Nakba 71 tour during July 2019. Mohammed Alazza, Lajee Center’s Media and Art Unit Coordinator, was invited to present his work and discuss the challenges he faces as a photographer and film-maker in Palestine. The event was in Liverpool and took place during the same week as Unison’s national conference, which enabled more members from different branches to attend and learn about Palestine.
Looking to the future, Unison would like to provide practical support towards Lajee Center’s community health team. The idea of this partnership came from Unison’s Royal Hospital branch in Belfast. As a starting point, Unison added the community health project to its list of projects it fundraises for during an annual fundraising walk in Belfast, which took place on 10th August this year. As well as Lajee Center’s health project and the cultural advocacy tours, Unison fundraise for other projects in Gaza. Lajee Center has also invited a delegation of Unison members to visit Palestine in April 2020 with the intention of discussing the future partnership. The delegation will visit Aida Camp, learn about the wider situation in Palestine and discuss collaborative approaches on working together with the community health team and other projects.
Unison’s partnership with Lajee Center provides ongoing support in terms of funding, awareness raising and collaborative working and learning. This in turn enables Lajee Center to continue to provide sustainable outreach services within Aida Camp and share the situation of Palestine on an international platform. The partnership has opened up new possibilities for Lajee Center in terms of international networks and increased the capacity of our projects in Palestine. Unison’s pro-active, committed support is testament to the strength of international solidarity and we look forward to a future of establishing more collaborative projects and activities.