I am overwhelmed by work and life in Gaza where we endure difficult times. Here in Gaza, the abnormal situation became part of our normal life. Every day we expect a new assault against Gaza. The borders are open for the moment but it is still so difficult to travel and even more difficult to return back because of the rigid travel restrictions at the Rafah border crossing and the more rigid and inhumane ones on the Israeli crossings.

I have decided to continue writing my reflections about my daily life in Gaza, about my work, my friends, the people I meet and different stories via my work with MECA and as long time activist living under the Israeli occupation, about my perspective as a doctor, a mother, and a woman who has dedicated all her life to basic rights in Palestine, as someone hoping to achieve a real change in people’s lives especially women and children.

While writing at my computer now, I can hear sporadic shooting by the Israeli occupation army boats against the fishermen’s boats. It is a daily practice by the occupation that stops the fishermen from going farther in the sea. The fishermen are limited to going just 3 to 5 miles offshore. I have been told by the fishermen that the most rich areas for fishing is 10 miles away. Fishing is one of our local resources. Unfortunately we don’t have proper access to this resource due to the Israeli occupation. The same applies to agriculture in Gaza. Most of Gaza’s landscape, including fruit trees and vegetables, have been destroyed via the non stop attacks against Gaza and not allowing farmers to reach their lands. Many farmers and fishermen were killed by the Israeli army and continue to lose their lives while trying to fight poverty and to be productive rather than relying on charity. This attitude used to be the nature of the Palestinian people including workers, farmers, fishermen etc… But not anymore due to the ongoing siege and very impoverished life in Gaza right now. I will not go through statistics here though. Instead I will share stories.

Children at one of the kindergartens we visited in Beit Hanoun

Today I visited Beit Hanoun village in the northeast of the Gaza Strip, very close to the border. Most of the population of this village are refugees yet it is not a refugee camp.

My first stop was one of the kindergartens in a very poor and marginalized area with 110 children. All the families of those children are on the very scarce social welfare but they have not received it for six months. The teachers are not paid too but they were smiling and very positive with the kids. The kids looked happy. We sang and danced together. This is what I call the social solidarity and the resilience too. I noticed the lack of light inside the classrooms and thought here we can intervene with small financial support to improve the educational environment for the kids. Maybe the solar panel is the answer? We don’t have regular power anywhere in Gaza but our engineer can find a creative solution.

Another kindergarten I visited in the same village is very close to the border. I saw 2 kids sharing a small sandwich of dokka (za’atar) without olive oil. I listened to the teachers many stories about their struggles and the social situation of the children and families.

Harvesting olives in Gaza

The third stop was meeting with a youth group who organized a volunteer initiative to help farmers during olive harvest. These youth are also active volunteers with MECA. But today we went to the farm of a lonely elderly woman. The olive crop is too little this year and it is bad news for all. During this visit iIfelt inspired by the youth who did not give up and continue volunteering and maintain social solidarity with their community.

These visits give me more insight into the MECA way of intervention. It is not about a huge amount of money, it is about being human. We are not a charitable organization, we are in solidarity with my people on our path of freedom. And by empowering people and contributing to their needs at the very tough times, either during emergencies like COVID and Israeli attacks or during the daily struggle to continue living under occupation and siege.

I am so proud of MECA volunteers. All love and respect.