Meet Inshirah Haitham

For the past five years, Inshirah has been offering motherly love to many children outside of her home in her work as a preschool teacher. She describes the world of children as inspirational and spontaneous and welcomes each day when she can see the smiles on such young faces. “Children are the beauty and blessing of life. With them I feel happiness and excitement. They inspire me every day.”

In the aftermath of the 2014 Gaza war, Inshirah is increasingly concerned about Gaza children losing their sense of security. She sees more signs of stress in the preschoolers, from bed-wetting, clinging to parents and fear of loud sounds, even a winter storm.

Like so many families in Gaza, Inshirah faces different levels of challenges from poverty, to war to crippling blockade. Her husband has been unemployed since he sustained wounds in the 2008 war. He used to work as a mechanic but now Inshirah’s work is the family’s only source of income. The family depends on welfare and other assistance to survive since teachers only earn about $50 a month.

Inshirah says she is lucky because her house was not badly damaged but the daily power outages and lack of reliable access to potable water make daily life a challenge. So do the economic strains and poverty that shape daily life in her community.

Despite her personal challenges, Inshirah always wanted to serve her community as a teacher, a profession she has dreamed of since childhood. The graduate of Al Azhar University in Gaza also loves art and has found a way to combine both passions by applying her creative talent to designing games and art projects for her young students. 

In her Gaza preschool classroom, Inshirah is very attentive to her children, like Aisha who is studying English.

In her Gaza preschool classroom, Inshirah is very attentive to her children, like Aisha who is studying English.

Helping Children Deal with Traumas of War

To help her preschoolers get through the traumas, she has intensified her connections with each child through storytelling and a persistence in keeping an eye open for those who need some extra support. She watches for signs of trauma: fear of the dark, lashing out or indications of violence at home. Through stories and active learning, she tries to help the children work through their emotions. She often involves parents and counselors in her efforts.

Inshirah, a preschool teacher in Gaza, participates in an ANERA training session on problem-solving with children.

Inshirah, a preschool teacher in Gaza, participates in an ANERA training session on problem-solving with children.

“Teachers are positively accepted in the community but I wish our efforts could be a model for parents and other caregivers so we can unite around protecting our children’s rights.” To keep up to date with her teaching skills, Inshira participated in recent training classes through ANERA’s early childhood development initiative.

Inshirah says the first week of preschool is always the hardest. “The kids cry and don’t want to leave their mothers,” she says and then adds with a smile. “In a few weeks, the same kids don’t want to leave school, even during vacations.”

For Inshirah, the favorite time of her day is when she can get down on her hands and knees and play with the children. She remembers when she was a child, playtime was frowned upon as a waste of time. Parents and teachers focused on homework and more serious activities. Today, as a teacher, she wants her children to enjoy playtime. And, she laughs, she enjoys it too. “When I play with the little ones now I enjoy it as much as they do.”

Adventure and curiosity have been the driving force behind her endless enthusiasm to learn more about her children. Inshirah’s life is shaped by adversity but she says working with children is her salvation. “I prefer to see challenges as life adventures,” she says, “Working with children, entering their world of curiosity and simple pleasures, gives me the strength to face any challenge.”

“Every morning when school begins, the children are like my own and I do all I can to care for them and show them love and affection until they wave good-bye at the end of the day,” says Inshirah. “They also teach me so much, from patience to honesty and more.” 

Inshirah dreams of opening her own preschool one day so she can put her knowledge and experience to work in the service of Gaza’s children.

In 2013, ANERA renovated the preschool where Inshirah works. Read more >>

Clearly marked ANERA vehicles during the war in Gaza.

Crisis in Gaza 2014, ANERA Response Log

December 2nd, 2014 by ANERA

Thanks to a dedicated and generous community of donors, ANERA’s Gaza staff was able to respond immediately to the bombings in Gaza. 

ANERA is one of the few international organizations that consistently gets health care and humanitarian relief supplies into Gaza. Since our Gaza office opened in 1984, ANERA has built or renovated infrastructure, linked homes to drinkable water sources, provided jobs, and delivered medicines to hospitals. Our networks are extensive and our staff is deeply committed to helping their fellow Palestinians in Gaza.

This log will be updated regularly to provide an ongoing report back to donors on the ways ANERA is responding during this current crisis. 

 

During and after the war in Gaza, availability of clean water has become a bigger problem than ever. ANERA has responded with distributions throughout Gaza.

During and after the war in Gaza, availability of clean water has become a bigger problem than ever. ANERA has responded with distributions throughout Gaza.

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November 7-14, 2014 |Weekly summary

Provided 12,684,000 liters of tankered potable water to UN shelters and Al Mosadar and Abassan areas.  

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November 3-7, 2014 |Weekly summary

Distributed a shipment of assorted valuable medicine  to 18 hospitals and clinics across Gaza.

Delivered a shipment of Cerezyme & Myozyme to Al-Shifa hospital.

So far a total of nearly 11,000,000 liters of water tankered into Gaza.

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October 3-12, 2014 |Weekly summary

Staff had their first break since the war began. They stayed home for the Eid and spent time with their families.

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September 26-October 2, 2014 |Weekly summary

$7,000,000: total so far of what ANERA has spent on relief and development programming in Gaza since the beginning of the war.

Identified a vendor for the clothing and shoe vouchers for women and children from the Shejaeya and Zaytoon neighborhoods. The distribution is planned for the week after Eid, mid-October.

Five tanker trucks delivered 605,000 liters of drinking water to 87 communal water tanks throughout Khan Younis, Jabalia, El-Bureij, El-Maghazi, the Middle Area, Zahra, Shejaeya and Zaytoon.

Provided 61,300 liters (total provided so far: 369,000 liters) of fuel to water desalination, wastewater treatment plants, water wells and pumping stations from the far north to the far south of Gaza.

Renovated the Al Tofulah Al Hadeetha Preschool in the Zaytoon area, giving traumatized preschoolers a happy, safe haven to spend their days.

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September 12-18, 2014 |Weekly summary

Delivered 13,970 vials of the antibiotic Ceftriaxone to Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s biggest surgical facility. This expensive, scarce medicine was purchased in the West Bank.

Five tanker trucks delivered, cumulatively over 21 days, 12,976,000 liters of drinking water to 87 communal water tanks throughout Khan Younis, Jabalia, El-Bureij, El-Maghazi, the Middle Area, Zahra, Shejaeya and Zaytoon.

Received in the warehouse an IHP-funded shipment, valued at $414,940, containing a variety of medicines for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and allergies.

Delivered 255,700 liters of fuel to water desalination, wastewater treatment plants, water wells and pumping stations from the far north to the far south of Gaza.

NOTE: ANERA Gaza education, health and agriculture teams continue to conduct post-war damage assessments of ANERA-supported facilities to determine the scope of the damage, the capacity to respond with materials available within Gaza, and longer-term rebuilding plans based on the availability of materials from outside of Gaza.

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September 5-11, 2014 |Weekly summary

ANERA Gaza education, health and agriculture teams are conducting post-war damage assessments of ANERA-supported facilities to determine the scope of the damage, the capacity to respond with materials available within Gaza, and longer-term rebuilding plans based on the availability of materials from outside of Gaza.

Distributed $548,000 worth of donated children’s antibiotics, allergy medicines and other medical supplies to 16 health facilities.

Received at our Gaza warehouse 13,970 vials of the antibiotic Ceftriaxone. This expensive, scarce medicine was purchased in the West Bank. 

Five tanker trucks delivered, cumulatively, 9,807,000 liters of drinking water to 87 communal water tanks throughout Khan Younis, Jabalia, El-Bureij, El-Maghazi, the Middle Area, Zahra, Shejaeya and Zaytoon.

Delivered 115,700 liters of fuel to water desalination, wastewater treatment plants, water wells and pumping stations from the far north to the far south of Gaza.

Distributed 1,757 hygiene kits to displaced families at UN shelters in Gaza City, Kahn Younis, Rafah, and Middle Area.

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August 29-September 4, 2014 |Weekly summary

Distributed food parcels to 500 displaced families. With funds from individual donors, ANERA has provided a total of 2,111 families with food parcels.

Five tanker trucks delivered 9,073,000 liters of drinking water to 87 communal water tanks throughout Khan Younis, Jabalia, El-Bureij, El-Maghazi, the Middle Area, and Zahra. This includes an additional 37 water tanks ANERA set up in the Shejaeya and Zaytoon areas.

With USAID funds, delivered 115,700 liters of fuel to water desalination, wastewater treatment plants, water wells and pumping stations from the far north to the far south of Gaza.

ANERA’s early childhood development team has been systematically doing damage assessments at more than 150 preschools across Gaza to plan for rehabilitation as soon as possible. Their findings so far show that approximately 60% of schools have sustained damage, some of which is severe. Schools are due to go back into session in mid-September.

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August 10-28, 2014 |Weekly summary

Five tanker trucks delivered 5,571,000 liters of drinkable water to 50 communal water tanks throughout Khan Younis, Jabalia, El-Bureij, El-Maghazi, the middle area, Zahra, Gaza City and Zaytoon.

Delivered 62,900 liters of fuel to desalination and wastewater treatment plants across all of Gaza, benefiting over a million people.

With USAID funds, cumulatively, ANERA has delivered 429,732 liters of bottled water, 19,484 hygiene kits, and 13,680 liters of liquid soap to 40 UN shelters in Gaza City, Beit Lahia and Jabalia.

A Gaza family sheltering at a UN school gets hygiene kits and water.

A Gaza family sheltering at a UN school gets hygiene kits and water.

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August 9-21, 2014 |Weekly summary

Distributed food parcels to 1,250 displaced families.

Distributed dignity kits to 1,500 displaced women in coordination with five local partners.

Provided 7,000 liters of fuel to the Deir Al Balah water desalination plant, enough to keep it running for a week.

Five tanker trucks delivered 2,702,000 liters of drinkable water to 50 communal water tanks throughout Khan Younis, Jabalia, El-Bureij, El-Maghazi, the middle area, Zahra, and Gaza City.

Delivered 139,104 liters of bottled water and 2,240 hygiene kits to more than 4,000 displaced families in 13 UN shelters located in Jabalia, Beit Lahia and Gaza City.

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August 20, 2014 |Deliveries made despite resumption of hostilities

In the past 24 hours ANERA brought three trucks into Gaza and distributed 13,440 bottles of water, 1,065 hygiene kits, and 720 containers of liquid soap (USAID-funded) to families in two UN shelters. ANERA staff members coordinate and accompany these shipments on a daily basis to ensure they safely get to where they are most needed.

ANERA staff members Sami Mater and Mohammad Ghossein deliver much-needed bottles of water to UN schools where Gaza families are sheltering.

ANERA staff members Sami Mater and Mohammad Ghossein deliver bottles of water to UN shelters for displaced Gaza families.

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August 8-14, 2014 |Weekly summary

Distributed 244,260 liters of water, 8,312 hygiene kits, and 6,480 liters of liquid soap to 12,506 displaced families in 32 UN shelters.

Purchased $100,000 worth of antibiotics, anesthetics and anti-coagulants in the West Bank and delivered them to Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Set up 50 large water tanks in central locations across Khan Younis, Jabalia, El Maghazi and El Bureij. Throughout the week, ANERA sent over a million liters of water to continually refill the tanks. This is daily and ongoing.

Provided fuel to the Deir Al Balah water desalination plant to maintain power at the facility during this time of critically short water supplies. ANERA has pledged to provide them with enough fuel to keep the plant running for two weeks.

Boys fill up water jugs in Khan Younis, where ANERA set up and continually refills 20 communal water tanks, each with a capacity of 2,400 liters (634 gallons).

Boys fill up water jugs in Khan Younis, where ANERA set up and continually refills 20 communal water tanks, each with a capacity of 2,400 liters (634 gallons).

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August 5, 2014 |Food parcels, hygiene kits and water distributed

Today was the first time in nearly a month that all 16 of ANERA’s Gaza staff was able to go out and work safely. These are just a few of the things they accomplished:

  • 1,600 displaced families in Beit Lahia and Gaza City received parcels with ready-to-eat foods
  • 100,000-liter water tanker sent to Abassan to fill 10 tanks accessible to families in this hard-hit area of Khan Younis
  • 1 truck of bottled water brought in from Jerusalam and distributed 840 displaced families at three UNRWA schools
  • 2 trucks of hygiene kits brought in from Jerusalem and distributed to 9,600 displaced families at UNRWA schools

### NOTE: ANERA’s response log will be updated on a weekly basis. Next update will be August 14. ###

Packing up hygiene kits filled with soap, toothbrushes, towels and other personal hygiene items.

Packing up hygiene kits filled with soap, toothbrushes, towels and other personal hygiene items for displaced families in Gaza. These items were purchased and packed in the West Bank.

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August 4, 2014 |Food parcels and water distributed

ANERA distributed food parcels to 1,000 displaced families taking refuge at a Gaza church and a nearby school. The parcels include water and are filled with ready-to-eat items like hummus, meats, cheeses and tuna fish. These three delivery locations are not served by the UN and the needs are great.

ANERA also brought in from Jerusalem two trucks of water and two trucks of hygiene kits, each containing soap, toothbrushes and other personal hygiene supplies. The items, purchased with USAID funds, were delivered to 1680 displaced families sheltering at 3 UN schools in Gaza City.

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August 3, 2014 |Hospitals pick up medicines, water is delivered to displaced families

Three hospitals came to the ANERA warehouse in Gaza City today to pick up antibiotics, painkillers and surgical supplies donated by AmeriCares. With the influx of wounded, most health care facilities have depleted their supplies of these vital items. ANERA is currently working to clear another shipment of antibiotics, penicillin, and syringes into Gaza.

A third truck of bottled water from Jerusalem was delivered to 840 displaced families at UN shelters in Gaza City.

A young boy enjoys some water that ANERA just delivered to the school where he and his family have been taking refuge.

A young boy enjoys some water that ANERA just delivered to the school where he and his family have been taking refuge.

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August 2, 2014 |Trucks with water arrive at shelters in Gaza

The first 2 of 35 trucks loaded with water bottles, purchased with USAID funds, have made it into Gaza. ANERA immediately delivered the water to 1,680 displaced families at eight UN schools. Every truck that gets into Gaza is an accomplishment — the result of many hours of behind-the-scenes vetting of vendors, arranging logistics, determining the best shipping route within Gaza, and coordinating with the UN for safe passage. 

In Jerusalem, ANERA loaded two trucks with enough water for more than 1,600 displaced families in Gaza.

In Jerusalem, ANERA loaded two trucks with enough water for more than 1,600 displaced families in Gaza.

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July 30-31 & August 1, 2014 |Water and hygiene kits procured 

Using USAID funds, ANERA has purchased enough drinking water and hygiene kits for approximately 70,000 displaced people in UN shelters. The kits contain soap, toothbrushes and other personal hygiene items. This shipment is being sent from the West Bank and will be delivered in the coming days to the many families in Gaza who left their homes with nothing. They will bring a small, yet very important comfort to people who have lost everything. More of these distributions are planned for the coming days.

With intensified shelling in Gaza City, ANERA staff of 16 cannot safely travel. They remain in their homes.

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July 29, 2014 |Dignity kits for women 

ANERA is currently purchasing supplies for dignity kits to be distributed to 700 women displaced from their homes. The items, which come from local Gaza wholesalers, will be distributed in the coming days in coodination with local community organizations. The kits contain an abaya (robe), hijab (head scarf), flip-flops, underwear, hand wipes, sanitary napkins, a hand towel, and an assortment of toiletries.

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July 27-28, 2014 |Streets unsafe 

Staff stayed indoors, as streets are unsafe for travel. In the meantime, they are coordinating procurement of more relief items, like dignity kits for women and food parcels, and deliveries of medicines to health care facilities.

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July 26, 2014 |Antibiotics shipment gets through crossing into Gaza

ANERA got a shipment of 24,366 vials of the antibiotic Ceftriaxon through the Karem Shalom crossing today. The medicine was purchased in the West Bank with funds from ANERA donors. ANERA staff took advantage of the 12-hour ceasefire and immediately delivered the life-saving medicine to Gaza’s largest hospital.

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July 25, 2014 |More food parcels purchased

With money that was donated over the past week, ANERA’s staff in Gaza has been able to purchase 2,000 food parcels, containing:

  • Hummus
  • Foul
  • Two types of cheese
  • A variety of meats
  • Jam
  • Halva
  • Date syrup
  • Tuna fish
  • Bottled water

Over the next two days, we will be distributing these parcels in Gaza City in locations where displaced families have been taking refuge.

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July 24, 2014 |New shipment cleared at port

A big shipment of medicines and medical supplies has just cleared through the border thanks to ANERA’s West Bank team. This AmeriCares donation of antibiotics, penicillin, and syringes is valued at over $500,000. Clearing a shipment of this size during this difficult time is an important achievement. All the difficult logistical work done by our Gaza warehouse staff means we will have the space and capacity to receive and distribute this new shipment and more thereafter. 

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July 23, 2014 |Antibiotics delivered to hospital

ANERA delivered 5,500 vials of life-saving antibiotics to Gaza’s largest surgical hospital. Staff in ANERA’s Gaza warehouse continue to organize and prepare a very large shipment of medicines and medical supplies for delivery to various hospitals and medical facilities.

ANERA's Gaza pharmacist and warehouse manager, Mostafa Al Ghosain, delivers 5,500 vials of life-saving antibiotics to Gaza's largest surgical hospital.

Mostafa Al Ghosain delivers life-saving antibiotics to Gaza’s largest surgical hospital.

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July 22, 2014 |Staff working at warehouse

Despite very dangerous conditions, ANERA staff went to our Gaza City warehouse today and began readying cases of medicines and medical supplies for distribution to hospitals. Coordination also began on delivering thousands of vials of Ceftriaxone (an antibiotic in extremely short supply) to Gaza’s largest hospital. Unfortunately, the delivery has been delayed until tomorrow – the teams that ANERA usually works with to distribute medicines are either overwhelmed or can’t risk the danger of going out on to the streets.

A Gaza father signs up for ANERA's emergency food parcels during Gaza war.

A Gaza father signs up for ANERA’s emergency food parcels during Gaza war.

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July 21, 2014 |Food parcels going to the south

Gaza staff dispatched food parcels for 500 families in the Khan Younis and Rafah areas. ANERA used recent donations to purchase the desperately needed parcels at the end of last week. 

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July 19-20, 2014 |With streets unsafe for any travel, staff remain in their homes

Staff were asked to stay indoors as streets remain unsafe during the ground invasion. There are 500 boxes of food and 600 boxes of medicines and medical supplies in our Gaza warehouse ready for immediate distribution as soon as conditions allow it. So far the “humanitarian pauses” in violence have been too short to carry out any form of delivery.

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Friday, July 18, 2014 |ANERA staff have been asked to stay home

A number of our Gaza staff were intent on going to the ANERA warehouse to continue preparing 600 boxes of medicines and medical supplies for distribution. However, because of increased danger from the recent ground invasion, they were asked to stay off the streets today.

ANERA has 600 boxes of medicines and medical supplies in our Gaza warehouse ready for distribution as soon as conditions allow it.

ANERA has 600 boxes of medicines and medical supplies in our Gaza warehouse ready for distribution as soon as conditions allow it.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014 |Antibiotics receive Ministry of Health approval

ANERA got immediate approval from the Ministry of Health in Ramallah to purchase 29,866 vials of Ceftrixone from the West Bank for delivery into Gaza. This is a life-saving antibiotic used during emergency surgeries that is virtually unavailable in Gaza. Staff in Gaza, who have not taken a break since the bombing began, took advantage of the 6-hour ceasefire to rest and buy supplies for their families. 

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014 |Purchasing antibiotics, food parcels and hygiene kits

Donations in recent days have allowed ANERA to make an immediate purchase of antibiotics, food parcels and hygiene kits. Our West Bank staff are coordinating the procurement of these items. We also have a large AmeriCares shipment (valued at $545,000) of medicines and surgical supplies that has been cleared and is ready to enter Gaza. In the meantime, our Gaza staff continues to coordinate distribution of medicines already in our Gaza City warehouse.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014 |Preparing for another large distribution of medical supplies

ANERA staff is hard at work in our Gaza warehouse preparing and organizing a large quantity of donated health care supplies and medicines for distribution to hospitals throughout Gaza. Most hospitals have dangerously low stocks of antibiotics and painkillers, which account for a large portion of these supplies.

An ANERA warehouse staff member in Gaza moves one of many pallets of health care supplies and medicines.

An ANERA warehouse staff member moves one of many pallets of health care supplies and medicines, donated by AmeriCares.

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Monday, July 14, 2014 | Medicines to Gaza’s largest hospital, food parcel distribution complete

ANERA provided Gaza’s biggest hospital with a large quantity of medicines and medical supplies. Hospital staff tell us that their most urgently needed medicines are antibiotics for post surgery treatment – thankfully antibiotics are part of our next distribution which is being prepared and organized in our Gaza warehouse today. At this point all Ramadan food parcels have been distributed to families throughout Gaza.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014 | Large shipment of medicines and medical supplies received in warehouse

Braving very dangerous conditions, ANERA’s staff received in our Gaza City warehouse a large shipment of emergency health care supplies including gauze, syringes, surgical gloves, sutures, bandages and medicines. Donated by AmeriCares and valued at $1,394,000, the supplies are quickly being readied for distribution to hospitals with dangerously depleted stocks.

With funding from the Zakat Foundation, ANERA provided food parcels to hundreds of families in Gaza City.

One father picks up a parcel of food from ANERA filled with necessities like cooking oil, beans and pasta.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014 | Ramadan food parcels distributed

From ANERA’s Gaza office director, Nahed Al-Wehaidi: “I have just arrived home safely after having given out all the food parcels to our local partners in Deir Balah, Gaza city, and Beit Lahia. Our Deir Balah partner started the distribution to families as soon as I arrived, as the situation is getting worst there in terms of safety/security. The other 2 partners will start the distribution tomorrow.”

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Friday, July 11, 2014 | Preparing Ramadan food parcels

Hundreds of Ramadan food parcels are being prepared by ANERA staff in Gaza. Each package contains a variety of essentials like tahini, tuna, sugar, tea, macaroni, lentils and other beans, tomato paste, rice, juice, cheese, and cooking oil. All of the food was purchased locally. Distribution is set to begin tomorrow after a delay due to the current violence.

Ambulance at ANERA’s Gaza City warehouseloads up with medicines such as antibiotics and painkillers for treating the huge influx of wounded people.

Ambulance picking up medicines at ANERA’s Gaza city warehouse.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014 | Distribution of urgent medicines

Ambulances arrived at ANERA’s warehouse on Thursday and were loaded with urgently needed medicines such as antibiotics and painkillers for treating the huge influx of wounded people. The medicines, donated by Direct Relief and valued at $1,444,000, were delivered to 6 hospitals and clinics around Gaza. This is one of the first deliveries of medicines to health care facilities in Gaza during the current crisis.  

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When you walk around Gaza City, you are reminded of all the people who were forced to leave their homes. In a neighborhood like Shijaeya, sadness and poverty shape daily life. People learn to make do in tents. The rubble of their destroyed homes is marked now with names and cell phone numbers written clearly on banners so people will know where they lived and may someday live again.

Siham Jundiyya lives in a tent in Shijaeya with her five children, aged one to 10. She had been living with her extended family in a six-floor apartment building. It was destroyed and now she and her family are living in a tent in the open air in front of the rubble.

Gaza mother Siham and her baby sitting in their tent shelter after home was destoyed in 2014 war.

Siham and her baby sitting in their tent .

The family moved into the makeshift shelter after leaving a UN school where they first sought refuge. Hygiene conditions at the school had deteriorated with overcrowding so the family decided it was better to strike out on their own.

They could not afford to fix up or rent a safer place for the family. The huge demand for safe housing has sent rents soaring.

Repairs to their home are not possible as long as there is no cement for rebuilding. So far access for building materials has been severely limited. Siham’s husband used to work in construction but he lost his job many months ago as building stagnated due to the lack of materials.

“Our life now is miserable,”says Siham. “Our children are sick. We cannot sleep. We are afraid what’s left of our home will collapse any time while our children are playing next to it. But, despite all the challenges, I am thankful because we survived.”

Siham and her mother-in-law hang the children’s clothes on a rope they tied between two trees in front of the tent to try and keep them clean and dry. Pointing to the few clothes hanging over her head, she says, “This is what we were able to salvage from the rubble of our house but they never really dry in this wet, cold weather.”

Gaza displaced like Siham and her family are living in makeshift tents next to rubble of their homes

Gaza displaced like Siham and her family are living in makeshift tents next to rubble of their homes

She worries about her family’s welfare as the cold of winter sets in. When it rains, she is forced to split up her family to seek shelter in different relatives’ homes.

When the weather is good, her 10-year-old son Abdel Jabbar plays with his friends after school, using their imagination to create games and forget about their new, harsh reality.

And yet, Siham manages to find some reason to hope for a better future: “When people living through the same crisis come together, they give each other support to carry on.  And, we will.”  

Siham's family and neighbors stand in front of the rubble of their homes in Gaza City.

Siham’s family and neighbors stand in front of the rubble of their homes in Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaeya.

Siham is one of 500 Gaza homeless women who have received clothing vouchers from ANERA. Read more >>

 

Hossam makes a peace sign to honor the Sports for Peace program, which brought together 600 youths at the running event in Akkar, Lebanon.

Lebanon Mini-Marathon Forges Community Bonds

November 11th, 2014 by lkassman

When deprivation tries to kill their hope, it definitely needs to catch them first…

On November 9, 2014, when all the cameras and reporters were busy covering the international Beirut marathon, more than 600 kids from Akkar in northern Lebanon refused to sit at home and watch it on television. They couldn’t afford to participate in the Beirut event so they created their own and ran through the streets of their village.

The Akkar event, which brought together members of 28 sports clubs, marked the closure of ANERA’s USAID-funded Sports For Peace II. The project lasted six months and trained young people in different sports, such as soccer and basketball, to bring them together through team/peace-building. 

For one day, children of all different backgrounds joined hands, sharing the same start and the same vision. Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese ran all the way to the finish line. Sarah Tlayji, member of the Women’s Charity League and one of the organizers of the event, said, “Recently we couldn’t mention these communities without highlighting the tension rising among them. Today everyone is running for peace, for friendship and for happiness. Sports really got people together.”

“By using sports as a tool for conflict resolution and peace-building, the Sports for Peace project aims to lift tensions between communities, especially refugees from Syria and the Lebanese host community,” says ANERA Project Manager Jackie Atwi.

“I ran the whole course,” exclaimed 15-year-old Mohamad Naser Abboud. “It was beautiful, but hectic. I got tired in the middle of the track but I managed to finish it all. I ran with my friends and made friends along the way. We’ll keep our friendships going ‘till the end’.”

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Young Gaza girl, displaced by war, gets winter clothes with ANERA vouchers.

Gaza Displaced Get Clothing Vouchers

November 10th, 2014 by lkassman

Siham Jundiya and her mother-in-law hang up children’s clothes on a rope they tied between two trees in front of their family’s tent, which they set up a few miles from their destroyed house in Gaza. The family has been living in the makeshift shelter since they left their shelter at a UN school this past summer. They could not afford to fix up or rent a safer place for the family. “This is what we were able to salvage from the rubble of our house, explains Syham. Pointing to the clothes on the line, she adds, “They never really dry.”

OCHA estimates 100,000+ people in Gaza are long-term displaced. UNRWA reports 60,000+ housing units damaged in the war, 20,000+ deemed uninhabitable.

 

With the cold, wet winter approaching, ANERA has stepped in to help the most vulnerable displaced families in Gaza cope with the harsh weather conditions. ANERA already has distributed 500 clothing vouchers for women and children whose homes were totally damaged during the bombings. ANERA has contracted a store in Gaza City that offers several options, from jackets and sweaters, hoodies, pants and socks to pajamas and shoes. The voucher program was made possible with funding from UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief).

Young Gaza children and their parents, displaced by war, shop for winter clothes with ANERA vouchers.

Young Gaza children and their parents, displaced by war, shop for winter clothes with ANERA vouchers.

Offering new clothing restores dignity

Rawia Habib has two sons and two daughters. She left her home during the war because it was located in a very dangerous area and sought refuge in UN shelters. After the war she had to rent an apartment because her home was destroyed. The clothing vouchers were a welcome relief but also a way to regain a sense of normality and dignity as she selected appropriate clothes for her children.

The vouchers also have eased the economic burden for families who fled their homes with little more than the clothes they were wearing. “I shed tears every day because I couldn’t protect my children from cold,” Rawia says, “but today I’m very blessed when I see these pretty clothes that I can purchase for my children. I feel relieved and overwhelmed with joy and happiness.”

Among Gaza displaced, Ala'a and her family now live in her burned out bedroom.

Rania’s daughter and son in her burned-out bedroom.

31-year-old Rania Sokkar has three daughters and three sons. Their economic situation is bleak since her husband lost his job before the war. Their home was burned in the bombings. They found only one room still fit to live in even though the walls are burned. It used to be her daughter’s bedroom.

Rania says the vouchers are a great way to outfit her children for the winter. “I was so happy to use the vouchers for winter clothes so we could chose something suitable for my children. We got pajamas, socks and pullovers.” Rania added, “I was overwhelmed with happiness and relief and excited with the new clothes after all our suffering.” 

Gaza displaced mother Fatima and son use ANERA vouchers to shop for winter clothes.

Fatima and son shop for winter clothes.

Young Razan and Mohammad broke into smiles when they entered the clothing store with their vouchers. “We didn’t buy new clothes for the Eid holiday or for school but now we have two new sweaters and new pants for school.” Mohammad decided to get pajamas and a hat too. “Every year at this time I used to wear my jacket and my warm hat, but before we got these vouchers I had nothing but some t-shirts.”   

With her arms wrapped around her two children, Fatima EL-Jamali browsed for sweaters and shoes. “Before I knew about these vouchers, I was concerned about winter with my sons and daughters still wearing their summer clothes,” She said the vouchers are the most appropriate aid and she’s delighted.

“The only clothing packages that were offered I found were useless or second hand and we didn’t use them. The vouchers let us choose ourselves all the items which we need.” 

Young Gaza boy displaced by war gets warm winter clothes with ANERA vouchers.

Young Gaza boy displaced by war gets warm winter clothes with ANERA vouchers.