Bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland
by Rebecca Kay, with Ahmed I Taneera
This is the third in a series of voices and reflections from GRAMNet members and colleagues in Gaza, or those with direct experience of researching in Gaza which we will be publishing on this site over the coming days. In March 2012 I spent a week in Gaza with Alison Phipps and Keith Hammond as part of the Life Long Learning in Palestine project led by Keith and funded by TEMPUS. It was a week that changed my life. As a researcher I have been more used to travelling to parts of provincial Russia and rural Siberia and have often been inspired by ordinary people’s tenacity, flexibility and imagination in overcoming challenges and obstacles thrown up by daily lives in difficult economic, political and climatic conditions. In Gaza this experience was magnified many times over. Again and again the people we met told us that what was most important was ‘to find a way’, indeed, that ‘In Gaza we always find a way’. A way to live with dignity and hope under appalling conditions of siege, which stifles economic development, brings enormous environmental costs and makes military strikes and incursions a constant threat. A threat which has now once again become a reality.
During that visit in 2012 when things were still relatively peaceful in Gaza (although we witnessed drone strikes and shelling), we visited a variety of organizations (Universities, NGOs, women’s centres and groups)
The people we met spoke about the vital importance of work to engage young people in purposeful activity, to help children deal with the traumas of war and life under siege, to support the many ‘smart young men and women’ left with disabilities and to assist their reintegration into community life and the economic cycle. We visited and were told of many inspiring and innovative projects. We were reminded repeatedly of the humanity of the people of Gaza. Of their shared aspirations and desires for a ‘good life’ for themselves and for their children.
We visited the then fairly newly established ‘Eye Medical Centre’, a project supported by the Islamic University of Gaza and run by one of their bright young graduates, an optometrist deeply committed to serving his community and particularly to helping children with visual impairments. Dressed in his crisp white lab coat he fairly glowed with pride as he showed us his clinic in the Al Isra’a building and described the innovative therapies he had developed with WHO approval. Since we left Gaza, Ahmed has become a friend, via facebook we have stayed in touch. His regular posts about eyes as well as pictures of his beloved Gaza have regularly brought a smile.
His posts this past month have been raw cries from the soul as the places and people he loves are torn apart. GRAMNet has long been committed to giving voice to people who too often go unheard. I end this blog with Ahmed’s voice, he speaks more eloquently than I can of these things:
July 9th: This morning, the explosions and the rockets sounds are coming closer and closer next to my house! Last night there was no electricity but also it wasn’t too dark. The shelling lighting was flashing from the windows all the time in my room with the smoke shadows at the wall.
I hate those type of heavy bombs that are shaking the ground.
You know, I believe that the brave Palestinian people will turn all the war bombs into beautiful fireworks for the next year eve after the peace victory.
Please pray for #Gaza
July 10th: Do anything but leave the kids … LEAVE THE KIDS IN PEACE!
Oh Allah save the kids!
Oh Allah save the kids!
July 11th: It may be the last post I write.
Remember that a Palestinian may die but Palestine will last forever.