The Faces and Lives in Gaza: part two…

imag0313Gaza, Palestine, an oceanic jewel of the Mediterranean.  Once a thriving, industrious, prospering and beautiful sea port; one that welcomed the world.  Now, Gaza is a place that possesses remnants of its former self, a paradise now in a surreal existence between living and hell.  An open air prison and active practice target range for IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces).

The people of Gaza continue to impress me, amaze me, inspire and humble me.  Gazans are so strong, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually; forever holding onto and believing that Palestine will be free.  A people that in spite of incredible odds, challenges and despair strive to better themselves, educate themselves, and preparing themselves for a better future.

For some that means leaving the land they love so dear to pursue better opportunities for higher education and employment.  This is easier said than done for many, but the ones who do make it out, do so with every intention and purpose of making their way back home to help others, to help their families and build a better future for Palestine.

What I find frustrating on behalf of those who have honored me with their individual stories of their lives in Gaza, is that Occupation goes to extremes to exterminate the Palestinian people at every turn, and yet, when those fortunate enough to be accepted into Universities outside of Gaza, outside of Palestine all together, or are granted international Visas, are often denied exit from Gaza to pursue these opportunities.  This is a living contradiction of what the Zionist Occupation desires most.

12107046_758686997577013_5556221131851724603_nOngoing strife and conflict, hardship and for many displaced still after aggressive IOF action in the last four years, the choices to be made are difficult at best; people being forced to choose alliances in order to survive, something that is directly unspoken, but indirectly implied.  Forever cautious of what they speak and how they speak, especially to outsiders, I have come to gain greater respect for the Palestinian people.  Trust has been betrayed all to often, and broken beyond repair in many cases.  It is not easy for Palestinians and those especially living in Gaza to speak freely about their lives and existence.  Especially with ever-increasing threats from the Zionist Occupation Regime to control and eliminate those that speak out against occupation and its actions against Palestine and her people.

12096576_761478657297847_8423740922874530974_nI am ever protective of those with whom I have the honor to speak with, whose trust I have earned and been granted with great care.   These are amazing people, from those with families to those still hoping to one day have families of their own; the level of ambition, dignity, integrity and pride are qualities they all possess and ones I admire and look up to.  People who have so little, yet give of themselves so much to those who have even less is commendable and speaks to the true human spirit of compassion.

Gazans are happy, strong and dignified people, that in spite of tremendous loss, tragedy, ongoing daily conflict and intimidation at the hands of IOF, they still find reason to be grateful and to smile.  The more I get to know the Palestinian people, and those specifically in Gaza, the more I am deeply touched emotionally.

10432532_4855501202416_8886210532923147255_nIt is quite a surreal existence to live in such a compacted, high density population and yet, not have hatred and bitterness, at least not on the scale we on the outside would assume they should have.  This is the very nature of a peaceful people and the Palestinians are a peaceful people at the core of their being.

The conflict and resistance actions that most of us see in mainstream media, when put into perspective really forces you think.  You too would fight back when you and your entire existence has been controlled and dictated to brink of breaking your very will to live.  One point I continue to try to make for you the reader, is to put yourself, allow yourself, to actually think and feel what these people have had to live with and against now for three generations and beyond.  To have your every move, every action, thought, effort to be controlled.  Occupation in Palestine is occupation not only of land, but of the people themselves, every aspect of their day-to-day life existence is at the hands of their oppressor, the Zionist Occupation Government of Israel.

10276060_10153358175693325_998773002538043109_nImagine also the dire circumstances of living with government factions of Palestine who cannot agree among each other how to rule fairly and justly.  This creates a triangulation of control with the Palestinian people caught and trapped in the middle.  Professionals that work within Gaza, and in the West Bank, some who have not been paid regular wages and salaries for two years and beyond; why? because one faction insists the other is responsible.  It is common sense knowledge that a house divided surely falls; but it is obvious that common sense in government and governance is not a common occurrence.  Who suffers then?  the citizens, the innocent people of Palestine.

Is it not enough to suffer under Occupation?  let alone suffer at the hands of your own leaders who cannot agree on how to best help to unite and strengthen their own country.  Yet, Palestinians strive to unite, to become one, of like mind and purpose and as long as these efforts are continually made, Palestine will be free and strong.

*Photo credit:  M. Baroud

*Photo credit: I. Abu Hewella

 

 

 

 

Helping Those Most in Need in Gaza, Palestine

Hani 2 I have had the honor of talking with Hani Qtra, a volunteer at Enterprise Community Training Centre and Crisis Management in Gaza.

Hani’s organization works in some of the worst marginalized border areas stricken with the most fragile groups of Palestinian citizens, and they specialize in helping them from a psychological aspect and social awareness perspective and often with the children by encouraging them through play and art therapy that allows the children to find a means of expressing and releasing emotional stresses and fears in safe and meaningful ways.

Hani

Hani and his team carries out their efforts to help others, people whose marginalized lives and homes have been destroyed by the Israeli occupation of their homes and land in the Beit Hanoun border area. These people are forced to live in small-iron caravans not fit for human habitation as the iron structures are dangerous in extreme summer heat and in the severe freezing cold winter.

These people have lost everything, homes, land, and necessities of life itself.  Hani’s team strive to work with and help these marginalized people, many of which are suffering from severe psychological distress of conditions like PTSD that are incredibly prevalent.  Hani’s team try to bring a greater social awareness of these conditions. 

The ones most affected from Hani’s team observations are the children who suffer greatly from the effects of deep psychological trauma and many have issues of aggression, fear, anxiety and depression, all of which is seen in the low academic achievement levels as a result of several wars, constant conflict, crises and government neglect in providing a humane standard of living through housing and financial aid.

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Hani and his team are working with people to help give them a sense of security and provide an atmosphere of ongoing psychological, and social support.

The reality for Hani and his team is a severe lack of necessary resources, supports and supplies to meet the ever-increasing demands and needs of the many displaced people in Gaza.

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Hani, his team and others like his, working in Gaza, within the camps, need help desperately, in the way of financial support, supplies and other resources to continue their efforts, especially with the children they see and treat.

For those of you reading this article, if you wish to support Hani, his team and organization, please contact Maria Atherton, head of the Faces of Palestine literary project at facesofpalestine@gmail.com