I hardly recognized my city. Everywhere there are piles of rubble where buildings used to be, people searching for a safe place to shelter.
Today was the first day I was able to leave my home and get back to work after nearly one month sheltering with my family inside my Gaza City apartment.
Hundreds of men, women and children are squeezed into Gaza’s Orthodox Church where they sought refuge from the bombings. They fled their homes with nothing but the clothes they were wearing as the bombs rained down on their neighborhoods.
Anera speeds delivery of 2,000 + emergency supplies of food and water to displaced.
Thanks to generous donations from UMCOR and other private donors, Anera has been able to supplymuch-needed food parcels and water to the families who have no idea how much longer they will have to stay at the church and whether they’ll find their homes in one piece when it’s safe to return. Supplies of water and food were also delivered to two nearby schools.
When I arrived at the church with my co-workers, ready to distribute the relief supplies, I found groups of women and children trying to put their lives together, the sadness in their eyes reflecting fear and pain. Some children lay quietly nearby on donated mattresses, some showed signs of the war with visible burns and fractures.
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Suad El-Suwaiki, who had fled her home in the Shaaf neighborhood explained her family’s plight: “There was intensive shelling and one of my kids lost consciousness. When dawn broke we fled, sneaking from wall to wall until we could reach a safer place.”
Suad told me they have no money and could not afford to buy bread. Out of desperation, she risked her life to go back home to make some bread. But the bombs started falling and she had to take the bread out of the oven before it was finished and run back to the church. “My family ate it, even unfinished, because we were so hungry.” Suad was delighted and relieved with the food parcel, “Now I can prepare quick sandwiches to feed the kids.”
Referring to the delivered packages, Suad said, “At most shelters, water is in short supply. Delivery of bottled water has become a priority for relief aid.” Sabreen El-Azayza fled with her family to the church, leaving everything behind. “We are running out of drinking water and cannot afford to buy any because the prices are too high,” she said. “And even the water we are receiving from surrounding suppliers tastes salty.”
At a nearby school where Anera delivered more food and water I met Om Mohamad El-Ghola, who also escaped a bombing. “In the dark of night we saw scores of people running barefoot coming from eastern Gaza and we ran too,” she said. “We cannot believe we survived.”
Om Mohammed smiles with relief and appreciation when she receives the emergency food parcel, “We don’t have stoves or any kitchen utensils so this ready-to-eat food like cans of hummus and bread are handy for me to feed my children.”
With the new water connection provided by Anera, the residents of Saleh and Najah’s neighborhood now enjoy access to safe water around the clock. “It’s extremely hot now. Having water available is highly treasured in this community,” said Saleh.
With the new water connection provided by Anera, the residents of Saleh and Najah’s neighborhood now enjoy access to safe water around the clock. “It’s extremely hot now. Having water available is highly treasured in this community,” said Saleh. It also improves health and hygiene in the neighborhood.
“People from other areas where water is scarce bring their jerry cans and jugs to fill them with water from our places,” he says. “Hunting for water is nothing less than struggling for survival.”