‘Ali Rashed Ibrahim Awad, Tuba

‘Ali was born in Tuba in 1996, At the time of the interview (January 2018) he was studying English literature at the Open University in Yatta.

Community:
Tuba
5 families
76 people

Installation year:
2010, upgrade in 2016/2019

Comet-ME systems:
hybrid mini-grid (1 wind turbine, 20 panel solar array), 3 H2O systems

How old were you when the electricity came to Tuba?
I was in sixth grade when Tuba first got electricity. I remember I used to study by candlelight or by kerosene lamp. I had to hold the lamp really close to me so that I could read and write. If there was no kerosene, the lamp didn’t light, and if the lamp didn’t light, you couldn’t study. Children used to be stressed, they had to study and do their homework right when they got home from school, but today they can study in the evening or whenever they want. […] The most basic things like cell-phones and computers… In the past, we would have to charge our cell phones using the tractor. You had to wait on line. Today, everyone has electricity in their home and they can charge their cell-phone and computers whenever they want.

Since 2004, by order of the Israeli parliament, the children of Tuba have walked to and from their school in nearby a-Tuwani with a military escort.

Can you tell us about the experience of walking to school accompanied by soldiers and activists?
When the settlers from [the illegal outpost] Havat Ma’on came to the area [in 1999] they took over the forest between Tuba and a-Tuwani. They attacked the Palestinians in the area, preventing people from accessing their lands and attacking children on the way to school. Between 2000 and 2003 the children had to walk a long and difficult 8-kilometer route around the forest, so that they wouldn’t run into the settlers along the way. Following pressure from local and international organizations, at the beginning of the school year in 2004, the army began to accompany the children to and from school. [international activists are there every day to monitor whether the soldiers arrive, and on time, which they often don’t. – Comet-ME].

How do you think the younger children experience this reality today?
The younger kids were born into this reality. It’s the only thing they know. I think they experience it as a natural part of the day to day, so much so that if you ask them they don’t even mention the soldiers or complain about the fact that they can’t walk to school freely or without restrictions. They do talk about the attacks by the settlers, though. Before we graduated my friend Ahmad and I were the oldest kids. We would look out for them. Now that we’ve graduated, there are a few high-school girls who are responsible for the younger kids.

Electricity makes it possible to do homework and study for the Tawjihi [matriculation] exams by electric light. Photo credit: Guy Butavia

What did you like most as a student in school?
My favorite subject in school was English literature. My English teacher from 9th through 12th grade was like a friend, looking out for me and supporting me. It’s largely thanks to him that I did well in school and went on to academic studies in the university. When I finish I’d like to do any job where I can use my English, like teaching or translation. I’d like to go on and do a master’s degree.

Why English?
Ever since I was in the 5th grade I knew I wanted to study English. I’ve had contact with international activists and organizations since I was very young. I could see how important it was to be able to convey our experience, our suffering under the occupation, to the whole world in a language that people around the world will understand.