Mohammed El-Kurd, Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem

Mohammed al-Kurd, West Jerusalem

Mohammed is a Palestinian teenager who lives in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. He is a student, a writer and a poet. He and his family live in a situation most of us would consider unbearable. When he was ten years old, his home was partially taken over by Israeli settlers from Brooklyn and they have been forced to share it since then. Mohammed’s story was featured in a documentary film called “My Neighbourhood”.

I met Mohammed for the first time the night before heading home to the US after planting trees with olive tree farmers in February 2013. We had dinner together and he read me a poem and it made me cry. He sent it to me later saying “I don’t want the vibe of the revolution to be over. I don’t want the will to resist to fade. This poem is made to be a reminder. I hope you are reminded…this poem is dedicated to my grandmother who is wishing to return and not forgetting that it is all still happening.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

This is a portion of the poem “Don’t let it Fade” by Mohammed El-Kurd

this shallow destiny feels so deep.

dive in, look for truths to keep, don’t sell your 66 years so cheap.

Let your soul boil.

when I was six I saw images of stabbed pregnant women in Deir Yassin,

it’s not over

when I was eleven I saw my sister’s bed burning and a yellow bulldozer

demolishing my neighbor’s house and now I am almost 16 and with a blurry

vision

and I still haven’t forgotten

Let your soul boil.

a reminder of your mother being humiliated at the check point

well my point here is that you were born for a reason

Let your soul boil.

a reminder of your Dad working 5 to 9 just to stay alive

it’s not a sign it’s reality

no matter what color my painting is

it shall relive

the things that happened before so it’ll give

the viewer a wider eye.

Let your soul boil.

Because on your soil,

An American woman planted an olive tree hoping it’s roots could contact

The older roots and make something wake up,

Let your soul boil.

Make the fire

Build a Desire

To be reborn

Don’t let it fade.

This photograph of Mohammed was taken on my third visit to Palestine. Mohammed’s aunt, Maysa’a El-Kurd, had died of cancer in March 2014, and he was taking me to see her grave. He requested that I take his photograph here. When I asked him about his New York City sweatshirt he told me that is where he wants to go to college.

All images © 2015 Iris Brito Stevens. All rights reserved.

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