A TEACHER is organising a special awareness and fundraising evening after returning from a harrowing trip to Palestine.
Julia Simpkins, secretary of the Bolton-branch of National Union of Teachers (NUT), travelled with a 12-strong delegation to the country to find out about the conditions the Palestinians are forced to endure.
She said: “The NUT takes a delegation twice a year to Palestine so we can see what is happening and raise awareness of the issues back home and get support for the people.”
The delegation, which included high profile members of the union, met teachers and visited two schools. One was in a refugee camp.
Ms Simpkins said: “People living in a refugee camp are subjected to tear gas on almost a daily basis.
“The camp was given some funding for a garden where children could go and sit and do their homework.
“We were told that tear gas cannisters were shot into the garden and the children were forced to run.”
She said: “The teachers are so proud of the children, who want to grow up to be nurses and doctors and make a difference. The children are so eloquent.
The delegation was also subjected to checkpoint checks.
Ms Simpkins said: “Palestinians will queue from 3.30am in the morning just so they can get to work, to the field to tend to their crops.
“They are prisoners in their own country where they need permits to get out and go to work. Water is turned off every two weeks.
“If you can’t get work how do you support yourself.”
Bolton Socialist Club is organising a Palestinian weekend at Bolton Socialist Club this week, starting Friday, with activities speakers and entertainment. Money raised will go towards helping Palestinian women go to university. On Sunday people will be embarking on a sponsored walk from Turton Tower at 10am.
Ms Simpkins said: “What the Israeli Government is doing is illegal, it goes against the Geneva Convention. Israel does not want the Palestinian people there.
“We want people to understand what is going on. It is not right and we want people to write to their MPs, support Palestinian goods, which people can buy online and through charities. It would make a huge difference to them.”
Ms Simpkins says she hopes that a scheme could be started where children inrefugee camps could be travel to the UK for a time just to get “some fresh air” and tell people about their stories.