Active Memory

Program Activities

For several years now, AL-JANA has been conducting a campaign to collect oral testimonies from Palestinian refugees with particular attention to empowering experiences and cultural contributions of Palestinians in Lebanon, folk stories and songs, recollections of the uprooting, and accounts of life in Palestine. Teams of field workers have been trained to this end, and so far 550 hours of testimonials and material have been recorded and archived. Based on these testimonials, Al-JANA is producing its bilingual newsletter Al-Jana, as well as active learning packs and multi-media productions for youth and educators, while developing a user friendly archive and website.

Oral History: testimonials and anecdotes from our Archives Oral History

+Al-Jana Periodical

Since 1994 the center has produced Arabic and English issues of a journal that is focused on Palestinian memory and oral culture.

  • Al-Jana English Periodical 2002 Al-Jana English

A special issue of Al-Jana, and focusing on “Palestinian women and active memory”, edited by Dr. Faiha Abd El-Hadi, was published in Arabic by the end of the year 2008.

  • Al-Jana al-Arabi Periodical 2009 Al-Jana al-Arabi Periodical

+Speaking Truth to Empower

Our project in the Active Memory program, is “Speaking Truth to Empower”, a campaign to collect and publish the experiences of Palestinians, of all ages, who have overcome all forms of marginalization and impoverishment, through individual and collective effort and resourcefulness. These experiences can help young Palestinian overcome the culture of helplessness, isolation and fatalism, towards a culture that builds on its creativity and vitality.
Some of these profound human experiences should be shared with people around the world.

Ein El Helwat: Stories of Empowerment and Social Transformation-the Case of the Women of Ein al-Hilweh 1982-1984

Historical memory of exceptional community spirit and organizing can be a catalyst for positive change and hope.  With this idea in mind, Jana embarked on a documentation and film project focusing on the history of the women of Ein El Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon between the years 1982-1984.  After the Israeli invasion, men of the camp between the ages of 14 and 60 years were imprisoned in Ansar prison in the south of Lebanon.  The remaining refugees were forced out of the camp, the camp was destroyed, and families were left without homes and many without any means of support.  The future of the camp and its people was unknown.  How did the women face this difficult situation?


In 2005, a group of women researchers met at Al-Jana to discuss the idea of researching this period of history and agreed upon a methodology for the documentation. The documentation process stopped during the 2006 war and restarted in the summer of 2009. Several groups of women were interviewed including freed prisoners, widows who raised their children alone, women who were compelled to get jobs for the first time, teenage girls who had to work in construction and other non-traditional fields, and political activists who took up the leadership of the political parties in the absence of the male leaders. Women of various ages and backgrounds and from the different nieghborhoods of the camp were interviewed to ensure a rich coverage of the experience of that period. In all, 19 interviews with 29 women were recorded.


The interviews show that the women during this period challenged social and religious traditional roles in order to rebuild their community. This period is seen by the women as a turning point in their personal development. Women physically rebuilt the camp in the course of two years time and kept their community functioning. The interviews conducted will be archived and available to the community and universities.  We aim to build a multi-generational dialogue on the importance of community perseverance and on challenging traditional roles in society and we hope this discussion will lead to more examples of periods of empowerment and community solidarity.


The film “The Kingdom of Women: Ein El Hilweh,” came out of this documenting process. The seven women and their families that the documentary focuses on is based on representing the different facets of the 1982-84 experience so that collectively they show a vision of the whole. With the camera we worked on developing an intimate visual language to enter the personal and public spaces these women inhabit and nurture. We attempted to capture the subtle and not so subtle, the personal and communal ways in which women sustain their families and societies. Animation was used to visually recreate the image and spirit of the past. We worked from personal objects that the women brought in that told stories of the period 1982-84. These objects-photographs, clippings, drawings, letters, tatreez, ornaments created in prison-began to create a visual language for the animation. It was also a way to play with imagination and reality: to reflect on the roles the women took on at that time and its present day implications.!/pages/The-Kingdom-of-Women-Ein-El-Hilweh-I-mmlkt-alnsa-yn-alhlwt/157747764251925?ref=mf


+1948 Active Learning Project

The learning through action approach is adopted in this project to bring home to our youth the reality of the events leading up to the Palestinian Uprooting, and the harsh challenges that faced the refugees. In 1998 (50 years since the uprooting) 20 researchers interviewed 114 Palestinian elders living all over Lebanon. The testimonies these elders offered provided the basis for a pro-active learning pack (a story book, testimonies, action sheets, film (Sukkar Yafa – and an audio CD). The 20 testimonies and action sheets focus on issues such as women’s roles and children’s experiences during the war, the atrocities and forced displacement. The Story Book is based upon the trials and tribulations of two children (a brother and a sister) who loose each other during the war and are later reunited. These resources engage the young in doing critical research and in expressing their views in creative and engaging ways.

  1. Ya Baladna Leish Hajartina, 1948 Uprooting printed Active Learning Pack
  2. Ya Baldna audio CD
  3. Sukkar Yafa film

+Folktales and folksongs remembered in Exile

The active memory program fieldworkers started recording interviews and collecting oral folklore in the year 1995. Our archives have now 150 hours of folk-tales and folk-songs that have been recorded after almost 50 years of living in exile.
AL-JANA is producing resources based on this rich collection.

  • “Ya Darna Yam Al-Shadjar Ikhzar”“O Home of Ever Green Trees” book

A team of experts worked on turning some of these folksongs and folktales into a printed resource for facilitators and children that was printed during 2009. Prepared by Jaber Suleiman and illustration and drawing by Saa’d Hajo.