From Gaza, with Love

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Good bye my friends

Good bye my friends

Heart to Heart

After 11 years of working for Palestinian children in Gaza and the West Bank, Heart to Heart, the family international foundation, could not renew

Their permit to stay in Palestine.

I will not bother you with the daily violation of human rights, or rules and regulations imposed by the Israeli occupation against our freedom of
Movement and the denials (rejection) of permits to enter Gaza. Those Friends of Palestine who want to work here or visit us in solidarity against occupation, face continual obstacles to prevent them from even entering Gaza. Such people are not only eyewitnesses, when they visit Gaza they are a window in our dark sky, helping us to look out from this small piece of land, this big prison and pressure cooker.

Saying goodbye to John and Akimi was not an easy task. I tried to be strong and to look strong, but I couldn’t, and after they left I burst
into tears while I recalled and remembered all the good work we did together, all the good times (despite the circumstances) we had together.

We tried hard and worked hard to give the children better lives and situations, and to make the change in their lives.
Using the few basic resources available, a great work was done. Activities, English teaching,theatre, painting, reading, dancing, singing, computer classes and above all giving children the chance to grow in a democratic atmosphere with respect for their rights, guiding them to play a greater role in their community, and to make the change in this community, including helping to look after the younger children.

I still remember with love and nostalgia the health environmental entertainment day in Jabalia camp. All of us were there to clean the camp streets(with Nora from the Norwegian people aid ) and plant trees, with messages of health education and steadfastness against
occupation. While helicopters circle in the skies of Gaza, and bulldozers raze the agricultural land and carry out home demolitions, we try hard to implement love of the land and steadfastness despite all the circumstances surrounding us.

I cannot forget that day in 31 January 2003 when the Israelis intensified their military attacks against the north of Gaza.
Flechette shells (anti-personnel weapons which explode to fire thousands of darts, invariably hitting non-combatants in violation of international
humanitarian law) were fired, targetting small kids as they played football not far from Al-Awda hospital where the kids were received for treatment.

Later, sitting on their recovery beds, I asked friends worldwide to write kind and supportive letters to the children.
With John and Akimi of Heart to Heart, we visited the children after they left the hospital.
Akimi made nice cakes and I handed the kids some money from an old university friend Naela in Bahrain. As we went from house to house to say hello, read the
letters and support and laugh with the kids, a drone was in the sky and 2 Apache helicopters were over the neighbourhood. It was too dark and scary.

Going back to Gaza I asked myself, I am a Palestinian and this is home, but what makes the always smiling John and Akimi take this risk?

I could only reply that it is their humanity, dedication and commitment to making the world a better place for all its citizens.

Good bye my friends


This is the piece I wrote about the kids and the incident on 31 st of January 2003


Game of Darts on football pitch
Gaza 2 pm Friday Jan. 31 2003

Islam a six year old boy from Telezaater in Jabalia refugee camp was on his grandmother's roof, watching the neighbourhood children playing street football, on a beautiful sunny day (at least that’s how it seemed for a short while). Tamer aged 16 was kicking the ball to Bilal also 16,Abedlhalim aged 13 hurried up to kick the ball back, the rest of the team were busy with the game.

They were trying hard to have some fun in the big prison called Gaza,where all day long the kids hear and experience only shooting and killing,army tanks, Apache helicopters, and ever present F16 Fighting Falcons.Incursions, checkpoints and curfews are always the order of the day. This all amounts to no food, no fun, no proper education, no clean water no safe homes , and no normal life for the children of Palestine.

At 2 pm on that sunny winter afternoon an Israeli Merkava battle tank fired two shells that landed in the middle of the boys' makeshift football field while they were playing. It was GAME OVER on the pitch and for some other people who were injured inside their homes.

Nine of the cheerful footballers are now lying wounded on the Al-Awda hospital beds, 3 are in critical condition. The total number of wounded
was 15. The shells fired were flechette rounds that contain thousands of small metal darts, each four centimeters in length. Having been shot from
a tank, the round explodes in the air and tiny darts scatter over a 300 by 100 meter area. Needless to say these rounds are illegal under international law, and so is the occupation by the way.
While visiting the kids at Al-Awda hospital, I asked one of the boys does it hurt? He
answered "only when I laugh".

in solidarity,

Mona ElFarra

6 Comments:

  • Thanks for your blog posts. They have been a welcome "view from the inside" for a bit over a year now. I hope the organisation gets another change to work in Palestine.

    By Blogger Pepijn, at 5/09/2007 4:58 PM  

  • We will miss you!

    By Blogger zoom-zoom!, at 5/10/2007 4:24 AM  

  • Not forgotten.

    By Blogger Joe, at 5/14/2007 12:25 AM  

  • So do I dear Mona...

    I felt you were so close and wanted to help you and your people so much... Every day I pray for the unfortunate Palestinean people, knowing some better time will come.

    Bless you and your fellow citizens in Hippocrates' name.
    Whenever you come to Holland feel welcome at my place, you have my e-mailadress.

    herman

    By Blogger herman, at 5/14/2007 8:28 PM  

  • So the boy hurts only when he laughs? That shouldn't be too often, since the media photos of Muslim Arab boys like him depict angry, hate-maddened faces. They don't appear to laugh at all, except perhaps upon hearing the news of a terrorist murdering a civilian Israeli. Thankfully, Israel's security fence and vigilant security forces restrict terrorist attacks to a minimum.

    Harry

    By Blogger Harry, at 6/08/2007 6:04 PM  

  • If you stopped attacking Israel then you would not be attacked. But you have thousands of Islamofascists with guns and bombs who feel it is their duty to attack Israel until the end of days. Until Islam is civilised there can be no peace anywhere on earth.

    By Blogger Fivish, at 6/15/2007 4:49 PM  

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