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Gaza crisis

Surviving war and destruction in Gaza

This image shows Wa'ed using sign language to explain her distress during the Gaza crisis while her brother Abdul-Allah looks on
© ASDC
Wa'ed (on the left) and her brother Abdul-Allah explain using sign language their distress following the Gaza crisis in July 2014

During the Gaza crisis in 2014, Hashem and his family spent several days struggling for shelter, food and water. Hashem and two of his children, Abdul-Allah and Wa'ed, are deaf, and the family are included in a CBM-supported programme 'Early Psycho-social Intervention for at Risk Deaf Children and their Families in the Gaza Strip', which is run by partner Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children (ASDC).

Abdul-Allah's nightmare

This image shows Abdul-Allah and his sister Wa'ed explaining how they were sleeping under the stairwell. ©ASDC
Abdul-Allah and his sister Wa'ed explain how they were sleeping under the stairwell.
Imagine a 13-year-old child who has witnessed three wars in just six years. He is deaf, but he sees and feels what is happening around him. The scenes of destruction are engraved in his mind. Now stop imagining, and meet Abdul-Allah, a student at Atfaluna School (run by the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children, ASDC). His face says it all, and the story of his family explains what children were exposed to during the latest crisis in Gaza.  

Abdul-Allah says that he did not cry over the war; he was supposed to be strong like his father and wanted to add strength to his family, especially to support his youngest sister, Wa'ed (who is also deaf). Abdul-Allah describes the things he has seen, the results of explosions, including children being killed and becoming disabled, and said "I thought I am the next, I was terrified to lose my limbs. I am deaf I can't communicate without my hands. I need them!" 

Hashem relives tense moments during the war

The image shows Hashem Ghazal talking animatedly, recounting tense moments during the war, while his young son looks on. ©ASDC
Hashem Ghazal recounts frightening moments for him and his family.
Hashem, the children's father, who is also the carpentry supervisor at ASDC and is deaf himself, has family of nine sons and daughters. Hashem tells his story: 

"When the war started, we thought it would end in a few days. We live in a neighbourhood which is one of the dangerous border zones in Gaza, so we are used to the explosions. But during this recent war, the sound of bombing was closer and the heavy shelling reached the area where we live. We knew that it was something different from the past two war experiences, something worse than we ever knew. At one point the breaking glass and shrapnel falling down was overwhelming, so we ran downstairs and hid in the stairwell. 

My children, Abdul-Allah and Wa'ed, refused to leave my side. I promised I would protect them from the shelling, but deep inside, I knew there was nothing that I could do. We stayed for days there. I was crawling to bring food and water. Later I suggested moving to my sister's house, thinking that it might be safer. We ran at night; my breath caught in my chest, feeling nothing but the beating of my own heart. There, we couldn't find my sister and her family. We got in the house, but there was no food, no water. We stayed there for days. At this point it wasn't the thought of bombardment that was haunting me but the thought that my children might starve to death. Three days later, when my oldest daughter heard a voice in the house next to us, we knew someone was there, so we asked for food. 

The biggest obstacle at night was that we had no electricity and therefore no light. This made it impossible for me to communicate with my children, across the boundaries of darkness and silence. We couldn't see each other's signs. We were hugging each other all night, just to make sure were all okay." 

Wa'ed's story

This image shows Wa'ed explaining in sign language how she felt the house shaking during heavy bombardment. ©ASDC
Wa'ed explains how she felt the house shaking during heavy bombardment
Wa'ed, who is nine and also a student of Atfaluna School, explained how her heart is filled with sorrow. She said: "I can't sleep alone because I don't know when next war will occur; I can't hear the sound of bombardment and I can't scream! They might run and forget me, I might die alone and no one can see me!" 

Abdul-Allah cried when they announced the truce. He had thought that he and his family will never make it alive. 

More reading

International Week of the Deaf 2014

This International Week of the Deaf we are featuring deaf staff within the CBM family, and at our partner organisations in Cambodia and Gaza

22-09-2014

Humanitarian Action

Working with partners to ensure that people with disabilities are included at all levels of disaster preparedness and response

20-11-2018

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CBM support during the Gaza crisis

In response to this latest crisis in the Gaza Strip, the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children, with funding from CBM, has started a six-month project entitled: "Early Psycho-social Intervention for at Risk Deaf Children and their Families in the Gaza Strip".

Abdul-Allah, Wa'ed, their family members, and 400 other families of deaf children will benefit from psychological counselling sessions, playgroup and therapeutic activities to improve their psycho-social well-being.


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