Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

غزة is my home

Yara Jouda | 30-06-2020

Photos of Gaza by Mohammed Albaba

Life isn’t a fairy tale. That’s what real-life struggles teach: You need to work hard to achieve your dreams, but most importantly you need to know what you really want. We are responsible for our decisions; that’s why we must be careful. Seeing your goal at the end of the tunnel will make you move faster to reach it.

I left Gaza several months ago. Life isn’t as beautiful outside as almost everyone inside thinks it is. Leaving Gaza by crossing through Egypt is a mini hell. For example, the journey can take days, not the seven to eight hours it should, due to numerous checkpoints and curfew in the Sinai. Most of us start missing home, some while they are waiting for their names to be called on the Palestinian side of the crossing, others on the Egyptian side, many on the arduous road trip to Cairo. Families, friends, neighbors, our streets and the food for sure—all of these small details battle their way to the forefront to be remembered, making you doubt your decision to get out. What makes us different from other travelers is that we don’t know when we can go back; we can’t guarantee a date for our arrival or departure. 

Mom packed my bag with food and sent me a million and more prayers with her eyes. God, how much I wished to have her hazel eyes instead of my dark brown ones! 

I finished my first semester in a college here in Saudi Arabia and earned great marks. But will I get to see Gaza again? I’m a proud aunt to nine kids and another two are on the way; will I be able to witness the moment they see the light? Will I be able to cradle them so they sleep in my arms? Will I sing them to sleep and kiss their foreheads? I’m going to miss a lot of these small things, but that’s the price we all pay when we decide to leave. I guess video chatting will have to do. 

I’m living as most of Gazan youth would call “the dream” because I have the opportunity to study outside Gaza. But they have no idea how hard it is to adjust to a new life. It’s ok to take a break from what you are used to, to try new things, eat different food, see another world outside those 356 kilometers we know in so much detail. But after adjusting to my new life, after all the trouble I went through just to study here, I’m trying very hard to go back home to my family and friends, the sea and my special pink tree. Everything is calling me to get back to them. I sleep thinking about the places I will visit with my friends after being isolated for 21 days when I return (due to the coronavirus). 

Maya Angelou once said, “The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” We all want a place where we feel safe, happy, wanted and loved. Life is full of hardships, but once you find your home it’s ok, no war planes will scare you. No matter how many of us deny loving Gaza, there are many who love it deeply, even though it doesn’t offer safety, or jobs or steady income. Call me insane, but I don’t want to be outside Gaza if a war happens. I would rather die or worry with my family beside me.

Posted: June 29, 2020

Mentor: Aurora Matthews

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