“We miss the sea! The school and the streets.” Waking up daily to hear those sentences from my kids was frustrating enough to understand that this is another level of the prolonged blockade on Gaza. It was different in the past; “we want to travel; we want to visit Disney land.” The wishes got smaller, just like everything else in Gaza is shrinking on daily basis, except for poverty, unemployment and population that are rapidly increasing.
Some weeks ago, amid the Covid-19 outbreak around the world, and with the first cases being identified in the State of Palestine, a decision was made to close schools, universities and all locations with social gathering; while in Gaza, and since there were no cases identified, some organizations continued to work to deliver for people in need of support. Mothers and fathers still working while children are at home, doing everything to let time pass and waiting for the family to reunite for some chit-chat, a meal or even an exercise. In Gaza, parents are either part of the 49% of the unemployed population who try to get out of this circle with the help of organizations and private sector, or employed parents who do what they can to improve the living conditions in Gaza for themselves, their families and for the unemployed as well. It happens that I am part of the latter.
When cases were discovered in Gaza following a group arriving from abroad through Rafah crossing, for travellers coming back from Pakistan, an announcement was made at mid-night. A night I will never forget, as a mother, a worker and as Gazan women. Living in Gaza is not an easy thing, and not impossible as well. You get used to it till you believe you are a superman/woman. You think for a while, will I die because of a virus? And suddenly you remember the two intifadas you survived, the three wars you lived through and the daily struggle. You think for a moment: will I die because of a virus? And you don’t believe it for a second, you try to ignore it but it is there. The nature of this virus and how it is affecting every part around the world, Gaza is not an exception. It is even more fragile to any pandemic and it is easy to get affected.
I woke up the next morning to start working from home; not an easy mission, kids are playing around while the mother opens the laptop early to respond to emails and work on some stories from Gaza and other areas where my organization can respond to the current situation. An email pops up, a request comes, and then my daughter’s school sends papers to work on remotely in order to go ahead with the education process in Gaza. “Life should go on” I was telling myself this sentence every time I wanted to shut everything down and surrender. But then, I just take a breath, go wash my hands and continue.