Monday, July 27, 2009

Homeward Bound: Gaza in 24 hours

By Dr. Mona El-Farra

"As soon as I arrived home I felt a great relief, if that is the right word. I had been unable to return home to Gaza since before the 23 days of bombing of Gaza earlier this year, because of the ongoing siege. I am not sure that the word relief summarizes my intense and conflicting emotions. Mixed feelings of relief, happiness, but also disorientation continued to overwhelm me. Gaza my beautiful home, yes my beautiful home, my beautiful people, who are trying so hard to live. To continue from one day to another. Despite the odds, the hardships, the deaf ears of the world.......

I now see a different Gaza, and it is not the Gaza I have known, it is like a city after an earthquake. Many of the historically important buildings were leveled to the ground. I decided to postpone my field visits to the different areas where the assaults were the most savage and brutal. I thought it might be a good idea to wait for the arrival of the delegation of US citizens who were due to cross the border......

We could not miss the Zaytoun area, where one of the many tragic events of the war occurred at the home of the Samoni family. The van went through neighborhood after neighborhood, through areas of vast destruction. How can I convey to you what I have seen in the little faces, eyes of sadness mixed with hope and excitement? On top of that some of the kids who had broken or missing arms and legs, post operative scars, who are living in the rubble of their former homes, and with their little voices they tried to tell us their stories.

I listened to their stories. I stopped writing about the rest of our activities, the rest of our day, the rest of my return home. At that moment I felt, and still feel, 'I don't want to hear or listen, I just want to cuddle these children and help them to forget.' But I want the world to remember what was done here in Gaza, and that those who are picking up the pieces, as hard as we try, we cannot forget."

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