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A (rare) email from Gaza

Posted by admin -

Thu, Jun 18, 2009

Gaza

Marryam Haleem, a delegate of our 65-member delegation to Gaza through Rafah, just sent this email from Gaza, describing the lapses in electricity and other services there. It gives a good glimpse of how it feels to try to connect to the outside world with not only a physical, border blockade, but a technological blockade in place as well.

This must be a short email because we have no electricity (as usual) and I am almost out of battery power. A short note on the electricity problem here. Every couple days we lose electricity for an hour, two hours, six hours…you get the picture. It is an irritating nuisance at first. But then the injustice of it sinks in. We’ve only been here two weeks and it is extremely inconvenient. But for people living here, it is a real problem and an injustice. Why can’t they have normal electricity like everyone else?

We are sitting today in a surgeon’s clinic and all of a sudden the electricity goes out. The surgeon remarked that this wouldn’t happen in the States. I had to concede. He has no generator in his office that is located in middle of the city where he does check ups with the locals. (His surgical work is at Al Shifaa Hospital). So when there is no electricity he has to examine patients in the dark (or rather he can talk to them, but not really examine them).

It is a real frustration for people here, not to have electricity all the time and for it to shut off at random (and usually) inconvenient times. For example, the other day we were invited to dinner at a family’s house. We walk in their house and it is dark. No electricity. Not the best way they would like to host guests. In the end it was fine. We ate a romantic candle-lit dinner : ) But I think you get the picture of the real electricity problem we have here.

Anyway, there is this really funny song that was made about the electricity always going out. I can’t wait to share it with people back home!

Anyway, today we talked to some children (mostly around 10 years of age) about life here in Gaza. They love it, of course. All kids love home. They loved the Qattan Center (library), the beach, the gardens (about three in all of Gaza). Kids are naturally content. But they do need more here. Parks (thank you, CODEPINK!) and play places and the like. Of course none of that stuff is allowed in and it cannot be built here with the siege and no building equipment.

The kids, and this is something quite typical of Gazans, are real doers though. They really make the best of their situation. Now on summer vacation, they all go through a regular system of activity: Library visits, play in the park, time on the beach, Quran school, going to the mosque for prayer, and attending other activity centers. It is quite amazing how much determination the people here have to be normal and live life to the full. They refuse to let their besieged condition harm their development (as much as they can, of course).

One thing that struck me about these kids were that they were so normal, like other kids. It’s a pity they can’t be allowed to be totally normal.

One little girl, Rawda, said she did not like the beach because it was scary. While another boy, Khadr, said what he didn’t like about Gaza was his cousins. Another girl, Iman, said she didn’t like the boys in the park.

Until this point the conversation was one that could be had anywhere in the world.

But then I asked them about the War. They were afraid, they said. Of course. They described, it very matter-of-fact tones, the time period. The fear. The noise. The fear of losing a father because his phone was out. The memory of losing cousins. The memory of seeing your aunt in the street killed. Of your father running out to her. Of seeing your neighbor’s house bombed. Of leaving your house.

Rawda, the little 8 year old, said she tells her mother now that she is afraid the Israelis will come back. And her mother tells her not to say that. I wonder how the mother feels, unable to promise her daughter that she will be okay. That the monsters under the bed are not real. She must be devastated.

The children told me how their mothers were scared for them. How the adults around them would cry and scream during the war.

I asked how they felt about the Israelis. One said I don’t like them because they killed my cousins. Another boy said I don’t like them because they come her and kill us and ruin our homes and they have no mercy.

These children have lived through a nightmare. They are still pure and innocent like other children. But they’ve had to experience what no adult can handle. I wonder what impact this will have on them. And I only pray that they are protected from further assault and injury. They don’t deserve this.

There biggest concerns should be their bully cousins, and the scary sea. Not images of terror, massacre, and an ever-present threat of its return.

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