What’s it like to live with just 6 hours of electricity a day? I can tell you what it’s like because I live in Gaza. Six hours is the most we get because of the Israeli siege that cuts off fuel to keep the electricity plant running.
Now, I’m working for MECA, managing the “Gaza Lights” project to bring electricity to power lights, a phone charger and a fan for up to 12 hours to families who need it most.
The lack of electricity makes our lives very difficult. But it’s worse than that. It’s dangerous too.
Old people getting up at night often fall down, breaking their arms, wrists, or hips. It is dangerous and painful and takes a long time to recover. Half the people in Gaza are children and many are afraid of the dark. They are too scared to get up at night to go to the bathroom. They pee in their beds instead.
The electricity shortage affects us in the day too. In Gaza many houses are close to tall buildings that block the light. Now, as winter comes, it’s getting dark in the afternoon. How can children do their homework assignments? How can high school and university students study for exams?
A twenty-one-year old mother only has a few small lights in her home. Her son Mohammad is just one-and-a-half and he wants to be with his mother every minute. He wants her to carry him everywhere. One day she was making tea with her small son in her arms. She stumbled because of the dark and the hot water spilled on both of them. Little Mohammad will have scars on his arms and chest always.
Rasmi is a young father in Gaza who is working very hard to feed his family. He does construction and other kinds of work he can find. He buys food for dinner each night on his way home from work because they cannot keep anything in the refrigerator without electricity. He arrived one evening to his dark home with his wife and three small children. His wife prepared a good dinner of fried eggs and ful [a bean dish] from the groceries Rasmi brought home. But as she is bringing it to the table she tripped in the dark and the family’s entire dinner fell to the floor and was ruined. They barely had anything to eat until the next night. Rasmi came to me and said, half kidding and half angry, “You are putting electricity systems in all these houses. Why not my house? If we had light we would have had dinner.” I told him that his family would be in the next group to get Gaza Lights.
One day people in Gaza will live like other people: no one will keep us from having enough food, medicine, clean water, and electricity. I don’t know when but that day will come.