• York Rotary

Life in Gaza

Jan reports...

Our speaker on February 12th was Nabila Al Zaeem, currently a Rotary Peace Scholar studying at Bradford University.

Nabila was born in Gaza, Palestine, where she spent all of her life in a conflict area. The Gaza Strip has been confronted with continued political unrest and conflict over the past decades. Through her work, Nabila participated in several meetings and campaigns calling to promote the access of the Palestinian people to peace. These meetings and campaigns also aimed at raising the awareness of youth and children of their rights, and international laws and agreements.

Nabila’s talk to us about her work as a Peace scholar, and in particular how it has been affected by her life in Gaza, and the difficulties they face there every day, made most of us realise just how little we have to complain about our life in lockdown now. She told us that to her lockdown is easy because if we want to go for a walk it is safe, if we need medicine we can obtain it easily, and here she doesn’t go to bed at night worrying if she is going to be woken up by rockets going overhead and falling into your home. She told us of how little they have there, and showed us some pictures, here (above) is a home that has been destroyed by our standards, but they still have to live in it because there are no building materials to repair. Most of their homes have been destroyed.

Nabila told us of the difficulties she had leaving Gaza, once her Visa had come through, and how quickly Rotary obtained her flights from Egypt once she had reached there. As Darren Starkey, her host from the Rotary club of Bradford said, she didn’t leave Gaza, she escaped from it.

Her aim in coming here was to find out more about Peace, Conflict and Discipline, and how she could help the people in Gaza. There are over 2 million people living in that small piece of land, and they have so much trouble finding resources. Her aim is to help the families living there, with over 100 years of suffering, high unemployment, high suicides, and many basics not available to anyone.

She is planning to start a Rotary club there, to help the people by finding resources for them to fight Covid and find food. Whilst there she dreamt of further education, of living in peace and being able to travel without restriction. She believes she is able to help them a lot more outside Gaza than she can by being inside it.

Nabila told us that the people love peace, they need space to be human beings enjoying their lives. Inside Gaza she is not allowed to speak up, an example she gave was that gyms were only open to men. A few days after she spoke I read in a newspaper that the Hamas controlled Government there has decided that women can only leave Gaza if their male guardian agrees!

We hope to hear more from Nabila some time, and maybe help her in her fight for Peace to the people of Gaza. She told and amazing and at times shocking story.

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