“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” –Henry David Thoreau
By Chelsee Bente, Edited by Cecilia Orphan
In 1955 Our Lady Sorrows, a Catholic run nursing home located in East Jerusalem, was built to primarily serve Palestinians of all faiths. In this home, a staff of 18 cares for 50 poor and disabled elders and provides them with the bare necessities at their advanced age. Almost fifty years following it’s opening, a security barrier was erected to separate Israel from Palestine along the West Bank and Our Lady Sorrows happened to be located on the Israeli side of the border. Due to the proximity of the wall Our Lady Sorrows lies within a military zone disrupting the livelihoods of the staff and residents of the home. This Way Up directed by Georgi Lazarevski, a Point of View Documentary showcases the division as the nursing home lies on one side of the wall and the residents and staff’s family, homes and loved ones reside on the other side.
The intention of constructing the 420-foot wall in 2002 was to prevent suicide bombers from entering into Israel. The effects it has had on the nursing home is something we saw in a previous century with the Berlin Wall that prevents free travel from one side to another. For the residents this disrupts their livelihoods, as their Palestinian relatives are unable to visit them without severe risk. For example, one resident that is showcased in the documentary feels guilt because she is anxious to see her only son, yet fears the risk of him being caught by Israeli soldiers when crossing the wall. The staff also has no choice but to sneak over portions of the uncompleted wall to care for their residents.
For most, individuals would ideally want to spend the remaining years of their life in peace and surrounded by loved ones. And for these residents who are stuck in the middle of an unending conflict, it is near impossible to secure these enjoyments.
This Way Up premiered August 25, 2009.
To view the trailer, TV schedule, reading list, discussion guide and more go to: http://www.pbs.org/pov/thiswayup/.