Gaza Diary: Fatigued by stress

Humanitarian worker says situation in Gaza is leading to illness.

    Palestinian families have been trying to escape the dire situation in Gaza by heading to the Rafah crossing in hope of entering Egypt [GALLO/GETTY]

    In spite of the truce between Hamas and Israel, very little seems to have changed.

    Thousands of people cannot work, thousands do not have permanent water or access to a durable electricity supply, and hundreds of doctors do not have the resources they need to do their jobs.

    Nothing seems to have changed for the 1.5 million people who are still caged in one of the most populated strips of land in the world.

    Some things on the ground, however, have changed but I am not certain that they are directly linked to the truce.

    For example, you are issued with a coupon entitling you to 10 litres of fuel once you register your car with the ministry of transport.

    You can only get another coupon every few weeks and 10 litres of fuel does not get you very far. So, I have decided not to use my car at all. It is on standby for my entire family, in the event of an emergency.

    Fatigue, headaches

    Palestinians wait at the Rafah crossing to enter Egypt [EPA]

    Recently, I have been alright, but it is my wife that I am worried about. The constant headaches and fatigue remain.

    We have now seen many doctors to try to find out what is behind these symptoms. Thankfully, she was able to get a scan. The results showed a lump in the back of her neck.

    Fortunately, we have been told that it is nothing serious. The doctor said that even he suffers from similar symptoms, as do 80 per cent of the people he treats. The lump in her neck is a symptom of the stress that she has endured.

    When you look back at our lives, especially over the last year, it is no surprise. Our life, our story, is full of stress, fear, and worry.

    "What are you doing to deal with the stress?" I asked the doctor in the hope of finding a solution to my wife's discomfort.

    "I am planning to get out of Gaza," he replied.

    Children pass exams

    In spite of all of this, today is a fantastic day. My children received their exam results - they did it - they passed! I am delighted and proud of their achievements. This has been a difficult year for them.

    At times they have had to study by candlelight with their feet immersed in warm water to combat the cold and lack of heating fuel.

    They spent the whole morning asking me for things to reward them with. I will take them to the shops with me tomorrow although there is little there for me to buy.

    The beach remains out of bounds in spite of their protests: 70,000 cubic metres of sewage is still being pumped into the sea each day - in fact 7km of beachfront has been declared out of bounds because of this.

    Staying away from the beach is a little difficult when you are in the of the biggest refugee camps in the world, aptly named Beach Camp.

    Turkish soap opera

    We have to think of ways to keep the children occupied during the summer days, particularly since the beach is out of bounds and there is little for them to do.

    I started up a community organic farm some time ago - this will be the substitute for the beach this summer. They love getting their hands dirty and eating fresh watermelon.

    My children have recently also taken to watching a Turkish TV series dubbed in Arabic. I watch it with them and it has become the subject of so many pertinent questions.

    They soon started to ask me: "Daddy, when will the border be open so that we can go to Turkey?"

    They see the things that they have in common with the Turkish children on screen but they are also aware of the many differences. They ask me: "Why are they [the Turkish children] allowed to travel and not us?"

    I try to tell them that the borders are closed and that this is why we cannot travel to Turkey.

    But when they ask "why?"as children often do, what can I say?

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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