'He tells me he's happy, I know it's not true'

Rita holds a child's drinking cup

Rita’s father Ahed was arrested before she was born. Rita is now 13 years old. She keeps a child’s drinking cup as a memento to symbolise her father’s care for her. Rita's says:

“He kept it for me and whenever I went to visit him I would drink from it. It’s my favourite thing.”

Wafa' and a picture of her husband

Rita’s mother Wafa’ raised her and her older brother alone. She works and is also studying for a social work degree. She has struggled under the strain of being a single mother and worries about her children’s emotional well-being. She says:

“The children may not want to show us, but deep inside them this has caused emotional damage.”

bus

Wafa’ was banned from visiting her husband in prison and given no reason why. Rita can still visit but without family to accompany her. Visits only last 40 minutes but the process takes the whole day. Rita says:

"It’s very difficult. We get on the bus [to the first] checkpoint. Then we go to another small checkpoint where the soldiers search our bags. Then we have to show our ID's and our permits to visit the prison. After that we set off again on another bus.”

Rita

Rita’s entire relationship with her father is built on a 40 minute prison visit every few months. She says:

"He always tells me he's happy, but I know it’s not true. I want my father to leave prison. I want us to live as a little, happy family. I want him to help me with my maths homework. I want what every child has from their father.”

Wafa' holds a solidarity poster

Wafa’ works in support of all the political prisoners, moved by her husband’s detention as well as the arrest of her sister when she was 6 years old. Wafa' says:

“They arrested my sister and demolished my family's house. The most difficult thing in life is for children to be taken from their house, or old people to be taken from their house, and then their house is demolished around them and they are left with nowhere to live.”

Wafa’ wants their demonstrations and vigils to send a message to British people. She says:

“People can stand with us by pressuring the British government, particularly about laws that came from the British system including administrative detention and house demolitions laws.”

Rita and Wafa’ remain cautiously hopeful for the future. Wafa’s says:

“As long as the occupation continues, and as long as we don’t have our rights, there is no hope and no future. We as Palestinian people are people who love our homeland, but we also love life and we love to live. We are people who love to be happy.”