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).
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.”
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.”
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.”