Children growing up in Gaza have witnessed more conflict than many of us will see in a lifetime. Eleven-year-old Nada has already lived through three wars in her short life, and faces the realities of the nine-year Israeli blockade every day. It affects her education, the food she has to eat, and her hopes for the future. Here she tells us about a typical day and how ActionAid is helping her cope with some of the trauma she's been through.
School life in Gaza
Nada lives with her two brothers, her sister, her mother and grandmother in an old three-room house with collapsing ceilings.
“I wake up at 6am and leave for school at 7am without breakfast, as we cannot afford more than two meals a day. It is a 15 minute walk to school with my friends along a busy main road – there is no pavement, so it is a dangerous journey.
“We have drinking water taps in school, but the water is contaminated so I avoid it. My class is overcrowded – there are 44 pupils crammed into one room. It is difficult to hear what the teacher is saying and it is hard to concentrate. My desk and chair are also old and broken.”
We have drinking water taps in school, but the water is contaminated. My class is overcrowded – there are 44 pupils crammed into one room. It is difficult to hear what the teacher is saying and it is hard to concentrate. My desk and chair are old and broken.
School finishes at midday for Nada. The high number of students and limited schools in the area means each one runs two shifts - morning and afternoon - to accommodate more students.
Limited funds from the government, and Israeli restrictions on reconstruction, mean schools in Gaza often lack the most basic facilities, and they continue to decline.
Children's clubs help cope with trauma
The challenges Nada and her school face are similar to many children across the world, but the consequences of growing up surrounded by war take an emotional toll as well.
Thousands of children in the occupied Palestinian territory suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Seeing so much destruction and death means many girls and boys still show signs of severe emotional distress years later.
There is nowhere safe to play near my home.
In the afternoon there is a bright spot in Nada’s day. She often goes to the children’s club, run by one of ActionAid’s local partner organisations in Gaza.
These clubs are an important part of our work, giving girls like Nada a safe environment to play and get extra-curricular support. They provide counselling for traumatised young people, using art and drama, and teach children about their rights.
Nada explains, “The Al Aqsa Club is very near my house so I go there as there is nowhere safe to play near my home. I’ve learned to dance the traditional dabka here, and practised dancing and singing. Some of the volunteers at the club help me with my homework too. I don’t go here every day; sometimes I play with my siblings at home or help clean the house.”
Gaza receives its electricity supply from Israel for just six to eight hours each day. This makes it difficult for Nada to study in the evenings. So ActionAid is providing portable LED lighting systems to families like Nada’s.
Nada’s own wishes for the future are simple: “I just want my school to have less students in my class. At home, I would like to have a room for myself, to do my own thing, and have clean drinking water.”
Sponsor a child to support our work in Gaza
Through child sponsorship, ActionAid is delivering a long term programme in Gaza, giving communities the skills and tools they need to change their lives, for good.
By sponsoring a child in Gaza, you can help us continue this vital work and see for yourself the difference it makes through regular updates and two hand-written messages a year from your child.