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Bethlehem Link is a cultural exchange programme bringing together teenagers from Bethlehem and Britain, established some twenty years ago by Nina Bevan.

In 2019, Bethlehem Link was revived under the banner of PCF.

“Westonbirt were delighted to host and support the programme from Ghirass and felt that the experience was hugely beneficial to both of our communities. Learning and understanding more about one another’s culture can only develop relationships and we can do little more for our global youth, than to support them in breaking down barriers.”

β€” Natasha Dangerfield, Headmistress of Westonbirt Girls’ Boarding School

“It was a pleasure to dance with Hakaya and we wish we had more time with them too. The kids were so nice and they worked so hard!”

β€”Β Hawiyya, UK dabke group

The Hakaya dancing group, from the Ghirass Centre in Bethlehem, came to the UK for a fortnight. They performed everywhere from London’s Southbank to the Grenfell Tower, and toured a range of schools, from Westonbirt Girls’ School where they boarded for a week, to London primary schools including St Ann’s school for special needs and Stanhope Primary in Ealing.

You can see some photos on Facebook here as well as read a detailed day by day account of the jam-packed fortnight in Issue 3 of Palestine Voice.

They even met up with women’s UK dabke group Hawiyya for a workshop exchanging steps with one another. Photos of that here.

Hakaya’s performance at Westonbirt:

Journalist Aina Khan reports on Hakaya at Grenfell Tower

For the first time this year, the young Palestinians stayed in host homes from the Palestinian diaspora. This allowed the young people to share with one another their different experiences of being Palestinian, as well as ensuring the teenagers felt comfortable in a home away from home. With so many British Palestinians facing obstacles to visiting Palestine today, it was also an exciting opportunity to bring Palestine to them.

Bethlehem Link is a non-political partnership. Its power lies in allowing young people to share their cultures, forge friendships and form their own opinions, based on their individual experiences. We are thrilled to hear from Nina that some of the past participants remain in contact as adults, some twenty years later!

It is an excellent opportunity to promote a positive image of Palestinians, undermining the all too often negative or clichΓ©d ones portrayed in the UK media.

We hope to run a repeat trip in the near future. Get in touch if you’d like to be a part of it.

Some photos and cuttings from past incarnations of Bethlehem Link: