A troupe of youth performers in East Jerusalem have taken it upon themselves to uplift a community two months into the coronavirus crisis, now also missing the celebrations that usually accompany Ramadan. Every night after iftar, Al Baha Youth Group brings their talent to the streets, reigniting festivities and entertaining neighbourhoods.
Realising there was little chance of audiences returning to live shows any time soon, the troupe has taken a festively decorated wagon as their new mobile stage. On their nightly drives through Palestinian neighbourhoods, fire dancers, poi twirlers, and musicians perform on the float, as children and parents cheer from balconies and gates.
The initiative is bringing fun to a community in need, but is also encouraging continued isolation measures, especially as populations around the world report ‘quarantine fatigue.’ A sign on the wagon reads: “Ramadan Kareem, stay home.” A widespread coronavirus outbreak is particularly dangerous in East Jerusalem, whose 8 functioning Arab hospitals have been deteriorating since the US cut $25 million in funding in 2018.
In a time of fear, restlessness, and stalled traditions, the initiative is a reminder of solidarity, and the simple power of fun. “To be with the people and deliver happiness to them is a joy for me,” Wael Abu Saloum, one of the musicians, told Reuters about his experience.
“It’s so beautiful what they are doing,” said Abed al-Karaki, a resident of Beit Hanina neighbourhood. “For two months all the boys and girls have had to stay at home since what happened with coronavirus.”
All photos by Ammar Awad, Reuters.