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Sunday, February 1, 2009

"Thousands of children have been orphaned in the recent conflict"

IR aid-worker diary, as featured on the BBC

Thousands of children have been orphaned in the recent conflict
28 January 2009

Each day for the last month I have witnessed new scenes of destruction when I go out onto the streets of Gaza.

Yesterday I travelled to an area called Samouni in Zaytoun for the first time. I had heard about the devastation there.
Islamic Relief was distributing food, blankets and hygiene kits.

There was a terrible smell. It was a mixture of damp trees, sand, blood and rotten carcasses.

I had seen destruction in Gaza but this was something different.

I found it hard to believe that only tanks and bulldozers had passed through this area - it looked liked it had been devastated by a hurricane.

It is here that I met seven-year-old Esa Rashid Samouni. I saw him running and playing over rubble and I stopped him in order to speak with him. I asked him about his home and family.

He began speaking, his voice was trembling, pointing to a destroyed building he told me: "My father, mother and brother were killed; now I only have one injured brother."

I didn't know what to say to him.

He then began pointing at a pile of rubble and told me this was where his mother was before she was killed, he pointed to another pile and told me that was where his brother was.

I was surprised by his next words: "What did I do wrong? What did my mother do to have the home destroyed over her? What did my little brother do? I miss them all and I want them to be near."

Despite his age, he was asking questions that thousands of others in Gaza would also be asking.
Esa is now an orphan. I wonder how many more there are like him in Gaza.


Play continues

Before I spoke to him he had been playing in the rubble - despite the personal tragedy that had struck him he was still doing what children do - play.

What impact is this event going to have on him psychologically?

It's a thought that always crosses my mind when I encounter Gazan children.

Esa's relatives had been consoling him, he told me.

"I will meet all my family as my relatives told me, but I don't know when and where. I believe they are in heaven and one day I will be reunited with them."

As we access more areas each day, the scale of the destruction becomes horrifyingly clearer and the stories seem to get worse.

Misery is painted all over Gaza.

It is crucial that the world shows children like Esa that he has a future, that he matters and that Gaza becomes a place of hope and happiness again.

* taken from the page: 
IR aid-worker diary, as featured on the BBC , www.islamic

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