The Youth - Mustafa, a 4-year-old Palestinian boy, lives a few blocks from our home in Beit Hanina. When I met him, he clutched a worn out, tan rag in one hand and cleaning product in the other. He told me he was cleaning his and his siblings’ strollers.

I asked him if I can snap a photo of him. He excitedly brushed the dirt off the steps of his home, plopped himself on the stairs and smiled.

I’ve noticed the youth here have these kind eyes, these gleaming smiles, this confidence despite many residing in conflicted and poverty-stricken areas, which leads them to having responsibilities at such young ages. 

Welcome Home to the Old Village - The view from the roof of our home in Jerusalem overlooking Beit Hanina – a village in East Jerusalem that is typically referred to as the “Old Village” to its inhabitants, and dates back to the 10th century B.C. This monicker signifies the small town’s close-knit community and cultural ties. My dad, and his parents, and their parents, call this village home – even decades after moving to the U.S. 

Signal - The mosque right outside our backyard in Beit Hanina. Any time I need to find my way back after venturing too far, I see its tower’s glowing emerald lights – a signal of comfort and familiarity – and follow it home. I, along with the rest of the village, can hear the adhan chime through our windows, calling and signaling for each prayer, five times a day.

Ma'a Salama, Goodbye - View of our village Beit Hanina behind our home in East Jerusalem right as the skies begin to dim to night. Unfortunately, tonight is my last night in this breathtaking country – my home. And as much as it hurts me to say goodbye, I’ve promised myself it’s only for now, which makes it a bit easier to leave this place.

One month is not enough time to capture Palestine’s beauty, and one thing is for sure – I will never again let 13 years pass before my next visit. Inshallah I will be back within the year to continue rediscovering my roots and take you all through my journey once again. 

Although I will be settled back into the U.S. by Monday night, I will continue to post photos from my trip afterward as there are hundreds I have yet to share. Within the next few days I also plan on writing up a reflection of my trip – how the country’s changed since my last visit, people/places/events I’ve witnessed, what I’ve learned and what my vacation has confirmed for me.

I wanted to thank everyone who has reblogged, liked, or shared my work so far in any way, as well as followed me on my trip! Al-hamdullah I’ve gotten a lot of feedback and support, which I greatly appreciate from the bottom of my heart. I look forward to continuing this blog…peace! :)

Hide and Seek – A Palestinian child peers out of his house window in the village of Beit Hanina, Palestine. I noticed he was discreetly gazing – half of his body hidden by the window with his head poking out – at passersby on the street, kids kicking a soccer ball on the sidewalk, crowds of people pouring into the falafel shop next door.

When he saw me raise my camera to snap a photo of him, he quickly submerged in the darkness of his home. I began to walk away but something told me to look back. When I did, the boy had re-emerged outside of the window, stared in my direction and flashed me a big smirk. 

Senses - Nothing compares to the pops of green and fuchsia, the instant scent of sweet flowers and fruit trees, the gate creaking open as I step out into my yard in Beit Hanina. It’s the little things about this village and country – the soothing wind and the nature surrounding me – that I appreciate.