Children are everywhere here in Gaza. They make up more than 60% of the entire population because the average family size is 7.2 people. Crowded towns, refugee camps and cities cram over 1.5 million people into these 360 square kilometers, making Gaza one of the densely populated areas of the world.
Between the Israeli occupation, the siege of Gaza, and the internal Palestinian divisions, children in Gaza have been, and continue to be deprived of many of their basic rights. The right to play, to live in suitable homes, to live in a safe and healthy atmosphere, and to have access to food and clean water.
In short, children in Gaza are not living in safety. They are not living with the rights we are supposed to provide them.In Gaza we know that our situation will not improve overnight so we look to our children as the future. All efforts to support our children are extremely needed and appreciated by the community. The accumulative work of everyone who cares in the local and international communities will affect the future of the hundreds of thousands of kids who experience poverty and the threat of military attacks on a daily basis . This creates an immediate need to make life easier and tolerable through entertaining activities and relief services. I don't expect we can make quick, dramatic changes given the complexity and deterioration of the situation in Gaza. But certainly I believe the effects of these efforts will prove to be important in the future, particularly in the lives of these children and their families.
In such complicated circumstances with endless needs for children, the Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA) is working hard to make life tolerable for children in Palestine. In my day-to-day life, I can see the effects of MECA's work. When I was at one of the UN schools where we implemented a water purification system, one of 15 systems we supplied so far this year, I was touched to hear the different stories and positive comments from the families, the teaching staff, and the children. We all know the importance of good clean water but many people take drinking clean water for granted. This is not the case for people who are deprived of it in Palestine, India, or countless other locations around the world. In the Gaza Strip, more than 90% of our water is not suitable for drinking.The university scholarships project targets students and whose families would not be able to educate their children without MECA's support. I see the huge impact of the psychosocial program “Let the Children Play and Heal” that has already reached more than 110,000 children throughout all of Gaza, plus providing vital trainings to hundreds of mothers that empower them to take action to help their own families and communities. I went several times to the Zaytoun neighborhood this summer to observe “Learning on the Rubble,” a project that provided intensive educational and psychosocial support to children in a particularly impoverished and traumatized area of Gaza. None of these children can be completely healed while the occupation and siege continue but I believe our work meets the children's most urgent needs and contributes to their chances for a good future.
I feel privileged to see the successes of MECA projects and partnerships on the ground. I feel proud to be part of the team of MECA. I tell the children of Palestine more and more about MECA's work and about the committed people abroad who work hard to help the Palestinian people. I try to educate the entire community about the genuine great work in support of the Palestinian people's rights and the continuous work to expose the colonial racist nature of the Israeli occupation that is happening around the world. I understand that our freedom is not an easy task to be achieved but to be sure there are growing solidarity efforts to achieve peace and justice and MECA is an important part of them. MECA's work and the work of all the friends and solidarity activists around the world make me feel not alone and not forgotten and I convey this message everywhere in Gaza where my people live one day after another working hard to endure the most difficult situation.