Camper Close-up: Aya El Khawaja

Not to be outdone, Camp Rafiqi in Tripoli has its own song, too. Unlike the Beirut camp song, this one was written by one of our very own campers!

Aya El Khawaja is only 12-years-old, but she is mature and smart beyond her years!  She even skipped a grade in school, making her a young, but stellar, 8th grader.  We sat down with Aya for a brief interview, and we fell in love with her. We’re sure you will, too:

Aya, what is your favorite part of Camp Rafiqi? Aya: I love when we sing! The period when we sing is the best period of all day. My favorite song is “Akent.”

What did you expect when you first came to a camp for blind and sighted people? Aya: First, I thought it might be difficult. Here in Lebanon, we feel like blind kids can’t do anything, but it turns out that this isn’t true at all! They can do anything; they’re very fun to play with, it’s really nice to talk to them… they’re just like any other kids.

What’s the most important thing for you to get from this camp? Aya: Friendships.

Who are you becoming really good friends with at Camp Rafiqi? Aya: The Blind kids—Maestro and Nasser. And you guys! [The counselors]

What do you want to be when you grow up? Aya: A heart surgeon because my Mom had a heart problem when I was younger. She had heart surgery, and it was really hard for Mom, and I used to cry for her a lot. So then I decided I wanted to be a heart surgeon so I could fix other people’s hearts, too.

She’s certainly having an effect on my heart already. Below is a rough translation of the Tripoli Camp Rafiqi song (to be performed at the closing ceremonies at the end of July):

“The Neighbor of Gratitude”

Oh neighbor of gratitude, We will miss playing in this summer camp, What a shame! We don’t want to leave! Enough- we don’t want to do nothing all day! Every day at 8 we woke up, We left without breakfast, They sent us to the camp, They fed us the nicest food!

We don’t want to leave, Shame, shame! [repeat]

From Monday to Friday they taught us, Even Saturday they gave us fun times, On the nicest trips they took us, And we’re very happy! What a shame! What a shame!

We’re very grateful, For miss Sara and Mr Imad! We’re very thankful, We’re very interested in this work. Inshallah, next summer we’ll come here!