By: Hiba Aslan
Iman Khashan inside her museum at Shuafat refugee camp
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons:
In an elegant modest house in one of the alleyways of Shu'fat refugee camp northeast of Jerusalem, young Iman Khashan recycles different materials from around the camp, turning them into pieces of art that decorate the corners of the house, combining artwork and craftsmanship.
The Art of Recycling
Iman defines recycling as an art that needs intelligence - it’s like a puzzle that turns damaged pieces into one useful and beautiful piece. She explains that all this work needs an artistic spirit.
She recalls the first piece she recycled, it consisted of a tin box lid and cardboard, which she transformed into a hob illuminated by a candle, producing a working kitchen hob with simple means. Little by little, she became more interested in producing something out of nothing. Most of her work consists of homemade crafts made of plastic, cardboard, pottery, textiles and even seashells.
In one of the living room corners, Iman founded her own small museum, as she had dreamed, where she displays a wooden chair that she found thrown away; she upholstered it into a square shape and covered it with an embroidered cloth.
Some of the seats in the living room are wooden boxes that she made of wooden pieces and decorated it with cloth. From the same wooden pieces, Iman made a box to store different things and did the same thing for the kitchen. On a table in the middle of the room, there was a colored bowl made from an old chandelier that she found thrown in the garbage. She made an elegant gold base for it and used it as a bowl.
Iman has made numerous recycled artworks, she describes herself as an artist by nature and cannot think of anything away from art. She loved drawing from the very young age and developed her talent by studying Fine Art at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Al-Najah National University.
Iman also spent four years in Italy taking different courses on Fine Art where she learned about several arts related to recycling, including the art of "Cortenaguer" or cardboard art and the art of "Vimo" or thermal paste, and thus her recycling skills were developed.
Disseminating the idea inside the refugee camp
A part of Iman’s work in recycling focuses on the development of educational aids for school children, she benefits from her experience in creating creative ideas that can be applied by children. Her role is not limited to this; she also gives training courses on recycling for Shu’fat camp residents.
Shu'fat Refugee Camp is the only refugee camp located within the boundaries of the municipality of occupied Jerusalem that was annexed after the 1967 war. The camp is located on an area of about 203 acres and has a population of more than 20,000 residents originally from 55 occupied Palestinian villages and cities.
The camp residents live in racial segregation, surrounded by the separation wall and a military checkpoint that controls their movement, in addition to the soldiers who repress the residents of the camp and the surrounding neighborhoods located behind the wall such as Ras Khamis, Ras Shehada and Awqaf.
The camp doesn’t have planned construction but rather uncontrolled and random construction, the infrastructure is damaged and solid waste is everywhere, but the area of Iman's house is different. Iman is careful about keeping her home and its surrounding clean, which is a culture that she aims to spread between the camp residents, but it needs a lot of time and effort she says. She already started spreading it through the courses that she gives. Iman believes that in order to make change, a person must begin with herself/himself which is what she has started to do. Iman disseminated the idea of recycling between her family members who support her by all possible means and she aspires to make further progress in her recycling work that brings her pride.
Translated by: Ghadeer Kamal Zaineh