We will smile again - a child's blog from Gaza
Ten year old Rania lost her father when conflict exploded in the Gaza strip last summer. However, in the year that’s elapsed she’s joined one of World Vision’s 20 Child Friendly Spaces, where children affected by the crisis can receive psycho-social support. Rania is now looking forward to a better future.
The summer of 2014 was horrific and painful; my father was killed and my three siblings were injured. Our house was reduced to just three rooms - a bedroom, a bathroom and a living room after it was partially destroyed by a bombing last year.
My name is Rania and I’m 10 years old. I used to live with my father (God rest his soul), my mother and my brothers and sisters in our house. It was the early days of Ramadan when the conflict started, and I remember how after we broke our fast together in the evening, I would go play with my friends and we would watch the people in the streets, either going to the mosque to pray or to visit with friends and relatives.
But after a few days, the Israeli bombardment began throughout Gaza and we could hear it getting closer to us. My father tried to comfort us and keep us from getting scared, but the shelling came closer and closer. The Israeli military tanks approached the homes and they were ordering all the residents to evacuate the area. So finally we decided to escape and take shelter at one of the UN schools nearby.
We spent nine days at the school. I was always afraid because I could still hear the shelling and see the smoke and dust coming from the neighbouring buildings. After nine days we were told that the Red Cross would take us in their cars to a safer place. People started gathering in the school yard and I was still standing next to our room as my mother put our belongings together. My father and brothers were already in the yard.
Suddenly, the school was hit. The shelling targeted the school yard. I jumped back very quickly and tried to see my father and brothers, but I couldn’t see anything; smoke and dust were everywhere. I could hear people screaming. It was very scary and I felt like the attack continued for days. My mother was screaming at me to come closer to her. I looked through the window and saw torn bodies and children covered in blood. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.
Soon after the attack ended, the Red Cross vehicles and ambulances started arriving. My mother put me in one of the Red Cross vehicles and went to look for my father among the bodies. I could still see her and I was crying and screaming. I saw her lifting a blanket covering one of the bodies and it was my father. She became hysterical, and I couldn’t stop crying in the vehicle.
I found the rest of my family at the hospital; my younger brother and sister were injured and my older brother had sustained a serious injury to his arm.
Those were the most difficult days of my life; I could not comprehend what was happening. How could innocent people hiding in a school be subjected to this horror?
After the war ended I heard from my cousins that World Vision had established a Child Friendly Space in our neighbourhood, where we could go register to participate in some fun activities. I’ve been involved with World Vision since I was much younger; I remember flying kites with the children on the Gaza beach in 2009/2010. So I started going with my cousins to the Child Friendly Space and it was a great experience.
The facilitators organised a number of activities for us; we used to paint, sing, play and watch entertaining shows. They took us away from the environment of the war and helped us think more about the future. I used to enjoy my time with my friends and it took my mind away from all the bad things that were happening around us.
One year on, life is still difficult for me and my family, especially since my father has passed away. We moved back to what is left of our home after repairing what we could. My mother, my sisters and I now sleep in the bedroom and my brothers sleep in the living room. I still miss my father and I feel bad for my mother because now she has to take care of all of us on her own.
But I still have hope for a better future, because life cannot continue like this. I dream of becoming a painter when I grow up so I can paint pictures and show the world what children are going through in Gaza. I would also like to become an architect so I can design and build new homes and schools instead of the ones that were demolished. I will always remember my father, who taught me to help people and always think about those who are less fortunate. My wish is to be able to bring smiles back to the faces of the children who suffered through the wars.