Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Report, PCHR, 8 September 2008
(This report is part of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights' Narratives Under Siege series)
"......But almost 900 other Gazans on board the buses were turned back at the [Rafah] border. Among them was 20-year-old Nevin Abu Taima from Rafah, who is still desperately trying to return to the US in order to resume her political science degree.
"My family lives in the Brazil refugee camp, in [the south of] Rafah" Nevin says. "Our house was destroyed by the Israelis in 2005, and we spent the next six months living in a local UNRWA [the UN agency for Palestine refugees] school. We are a big family of 11 children, and some of my brothers and sisters also have families of their own, all of us were living together in one classroom. Can you imagine that?" Nevin left Gaza while her family was still being housed in the classroom. "I was only 16," she says. "But I had very good grades at school, and I was offered a United World College Scholarship in Italy. I left my home and lived in Trieste [in northern Italy] for two years. I had to study Italian and English at the same time, and after two years I received my international baccalaureate."
While she was living in Italy, Nevin traveled to Egypt each summer to try to see her family in Gaza. "I traveled to Rafah on the Egyptian side of the border twice, and waited for almost three months each time, to see if the border would open" she says. "All my family is inside Gaza and I badly wanted to see them. But I never managed to get across the border, and had to return to Italy without seeing them."......
The bitter irony for Nevin is that St. Lawrence has now emailed her, informing her that her scholarship is too expensive to maintain in her absence. Unless she can manage to somehow travel to the US by 8 September, she understands that her scholarship will be either suspended or canceled. She will also have to re-submit all of her documentation in order to re-enter the US, and may have her student visa canceled, leaving her in complete limbo. "My university doesn't understand about life in Gaza" Nevin says. "My family live in a refugee camp, and they can't afford to send me to university in Gaza. I am now trying to travel via Erez [into Israel] and then from Jordan to the US. But I have very little time left.""