By ADRIAN TORRES, age 9
More than six months after the end of the summer 2014 bombardment of the Gaza Strip by Israeli military forces, much of the territory is still in ruins. Rebuilding efforts have been slow, but a small break-dancing group hopes to inspire youth by raising money to open a dance studio in the rubble.
In 2003, Mohammed Ghraiz established Camps Breakerz in Gaza’s Nusairat refugee camp in occupied Palestine. Since then, he and his crew have performed to educate people about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
Camps Breakerz performs for kids and adults in Gaza for free. They express their feelings and increase awareness about the occupation. Because of the occupation, Palestinians cannot travel outside of Gaza if they do not have permission from the Israeli government. Bombs are exploding in the cities, and kids are scared to go outside. When Camps Breakerz performs, the kids are happier and less scared.
The group put on a series of workshops with international humanitarian organization Save the Children to show kids something other than violence. “I want them to see a good way of life,” Ghraiz told TIME magazine. “I want to tell them … that they can think about other things besides the siege and war.”
Some people in Camps Breakerz’s community are concerned about break dancing. “This is a conservative, Muslim society,” Ahmed Ismail, a former member of Camps Breakerz, told the Electronic Intifada. Still, over time, the group has gained the support of local officials and community members.
Their supporters now see them as more than simply a form of entertainment. “We are not just dance,” says Ghraiz. “Most shows have a message. We are telling people about our situation and our lives.”