Gaza: creating a safe place for children
The Gaza Strip continues to be haunted by violent escalations. Immediately after the ceasefire of the war in May 2021, Ola Elhessy, Tdh’s Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, met families affected by the conflict to identify their needs. She tells us about the effects of the continued violence on children and their well-being.
How did you experience the escalation of violence in May 2021?
Like in most Arab countries, we were preparing for the Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan. But we quickly went from joy to war, unfortunately. We heard the bombs and saw the destroyed homes, damaged roads and infrastructure around us. We had no access to clean water, no contacts with others. We were scared of dying, of having our house damaged. We haven’t slept properly yet. We always think about life and death. The situation is already very difficult for us, the adults. Imagine how it is for the children.
What was your role at Tdh after that war?
After the last emergency in Gaza, I met with families affected by the conflict and interviewed them to identify their needs to respond to them in our activities. They asked for support to cover their basic needs such as food and water, hygiene materials, and clothes. The children asked for toys, which Tdh provided. They need to live their childhoods! I’m proud of having proposed some of the first emergency activities and distributions that were implemented. Providing them with support based on their needs is the most important service we can give them.
What are the biggest needs of the population?
Many people’s homes are totally or partially damaged. Psychosocial support for them and their children is very important. One mother told me that her child stopped in front of his door and did not want to enter and live in his home anymore because he was afraid that it would be bombed. Some children are afraid of the sound of the planes because they think the war will start again. It’s my main goal to support these children. In Gaza, children suffer from the blockade, some don’t have a plan for their future. They need something to make them happy. By giving children a small ball, you can give them the right to play. Can you imagine the joy they feel ?
What do you wish for these children?
I hope that we manage to release the children’s bad experience and bad feelings from the last resurgent violence. I hope to see them laugh and smile once again, that they feel safe when walking in the streets and being in their homes. I hope that they can play again without fear. All they need is a safe place to grow up and develop.
Photo credits: ©Tdh/Samar Abu Elouf/Fairpicture