“People, here, are living because they do not have the choice to die”

Report from Gaza by Safaa El Derawi, MECA Project Assistant

More than a year after the Israeli aggression on the Gaza strip in 2014, the situation here continues to get worse. The Israeli siege destroys any chance of living a decent life, the houses are still damaged and the feelings of pain, loss, and sorrow are still there in the depth of our hearts. Gaza’s wounds are still open and will not heal very soon.

Report from Gaza by Safaa El Derawi, MECA Project Assistant

More than a year after the Israeli aggression on the Gaza strip in 2014, the situation here continues to get worse. The Israeli siege destroys any chance of living a decent life, the houses are still damaged and the feelings of pain, loss, and sorrow are still there in the depth of our hearts. Gaza’s wounds are still open and will not heal very soon.

“Gaza is just like heaven, people do not have to work.” This is the sad joke I hear every day. Unemployment has reached 64% and everyone’s greatest concern is providing food for their children. They believe that they will never live an ordinary life. “People here are living because they do not have the choice to die,” an old man concluded.

Gaza has become the biggest prison. People are sitting, waiting, waiting for nothing. Half of the people in one recent survey said they want to leave.  However, this remains a dream because of the continuous closure of Rafah Crossing Border to Egypt, and there is no way to get permission to leave through Israel. Thousands of students missed their academic year, thousands of patients are dying slowly, and thousands of families are waiting to be united again.

I am the only one of my friends who was lucky enough to find a job after graduation from the university. Many people send their male children to the university instead of female children because there are more opportunities for men with degrees to find jobs and earn money. A parent of a female student who receives a MECA scholarship asked if one of his sons could take her place. But we insisted on helping the young woman complete her studies.

My job working with MECA provides me with the opportunity to visit all areas of the Gaza Strip. Those visits, from the north of Gaza to the south, have had a serious psychological impact on me. I see people’s real and miserable lives. I see the pain in their eyes, their broken hearts, and their hopelessness about the future. Their highest ambitions have become a small amount of money, a food parcel, and eight hours of electricity each day. 

According to the U.N., about 96,000 families lost their houses during the last Israeli aggression on Gaza. Those families suffer from the rain and floods in winter. Many live in small, cramped trailers now. They do not feel warm and they cannot prevent rain from entering the house. Sometimes, they literally sink into the ground. And children suffer from the negative psychological effects of war. Once they hear the sound of thunder, they start hiding, screaming and crying.

Many families in Gaza need urgent help and MECA provides as much as we can. MECA distributes warm clothes and plastic sheets to cover the holes in houses. MECA has installed 71 water purification units in schools and kindergartens.

Let the Children Play and Heal” is the MECA project that touches my heart the most. It addresses the psychological effects of war on children. I know how much the children are suffering and how much they need caring adults and creative activities to bring the smile back on their lips.

We love life and our children deserve to live.