Feda'a works for Al Aqsa Sports Club, ActionAid's partner in the Middle Area of the Gaza Strip in the occupied Palestinian territory. Working so closely with children and the local community, and as a mother of seven herself, she has seen first hand the physical and psychological impacts of war in Gaza on the very young. She describes the difficulties that girls in particular are facing right now, and how ActionAid's work is making a crucial difference.
“Raising children in Gaza is like raising a bird in a cage. Although I tried to provide my children with their needs, there are many things I cannot provide for them.
My children are growing up in a society with ongoing wars and threats, which affected them negatively and leaving them with a deep sense of fear, hopeless and insecurity. I am always worried about my children’s future. We always think about a next war. Who will live? Who will die? If our house is destroyed, what will we do? How will we continue our life?
According to my daughters’ view of the world, no one is listening, watching and caring about us. I always try to give them the hope of life, talking about our bright future that will come one day by education, raising our voice and struggling to gain our rights and live in peace.
The challenges girls face in Gaza
Many girls are forced into early marriage, despite their success at school. Many girls also don’t have the right to choose their majors at the university. When they become women they find very few job opportunities. They face many types of gender-based violence, including physical abuse, and psychological abuse, such as verbal assaults and insults.
I am always worried about my children’s future.
As a woman living in Gaza surrounded by many difficulties, I must be strong enough to face them. Although I have six daughters and one son and have lots of duties to do inside and outside the house, I have enough support from my husband to continue my education and to work.
Despite living in the same circumstances as other women in Gaza, I feel that I am different from lots of them not only because I have the ability to be educated, work and make decisions freely, but also because I have support.
ActionAid’s work in Gaza
ActionAid with their local partner Al Aqsa club provide many services to women and girls. They provide workshops at schools for female students about the early marriage and its impact, and workshops for women to raise their awareness about their rights.
They also support many activities for children such as drawing, choral performances, drama and sports activities.
Hope for the future
I hope my daughters enjoy a better education and better places to play, and I hope they will be able to discover the world outside Gaza, to go through new experiences. My daughters’ dreams are much bigger than the bad circumstances they face. I hope to change their pessimistic view of life, change death to life, violence to beauty, misery to hope and hate to love.”
We believe that no girl should grow up afraid. Through child sponsorship, you can help make sure that children can access safe spaces like the Al Aqsa club, which help them deal with trauma, and that they have the food, shelter and education they need to thrive. Sponsor a child today and see the difference your support can make.
Photos: Paul Evans/ActionAid.