“I want to be a doctor – to help others as I have been helped”
*Yasmin greets me with a shy but engaging smile. As a young girl living in Gaza she has endured more suffering than any 12 year old I’ve ever met, but an air of optimism and child-like joy still surround her. She starts by telling me that she loves school, and she’s currently missing her favourite subject, Arabic language.
I’m interviewing Yasmin in the Al Ahli hospital – the only hospital in Gaza run by Christians. It’s a bustling, vibrant place with doctors and patients mingling together in waiting rooms, treatment rooms, and in the gardens that are providing rest for the many waiting to see someone. Here you feel that patients and doctors know each other, and that there is a friendship as well as professional relationship between many.
Yasmin has been receiving care here since the war in Gaza last summer, when her neighbours home was hit by an Israeli missile. She was sitting in a circle with her cousins – chatting and laughing as young people do, when the explosion happened.
“I don’t remember much” she tells me. “I remember that we were talking, and then my body lifted off the ground. I felt like I was flying through the air, and then I hit the ground and all went black. I woke up in hospital a day later and just remember seeing my parents faces. My mother was crying”
The explosion had caused fractures to Yasmin’s left arm and left leg. She arrived at the Al Ahli hospital unconscious, and doctors immediately performed an operation on her leg, and put her arm in a cast. Since then she has had two more operations, and 6 months of physiotherapy to regain the strength in her arm and leg.
Yasmin has now recovered, and is back at school full time. She wants to train to be a doctor, in America. But she’s quick to reassure me that she wants to come back to Gaza after university, to help others as she has been helped.
Despite her physical recovery, the psychological effects of the war are lingering. Her mother tells me that she is angry, and doesn’t want to listen to the news or talk about what happened. She, like many parents I’ll meet in the coming days, is worried about her daughter’s mental health.
“We worry about our children – how could we not? This is our third war in six years. We have all lost children, or seen them injured like Yasmin. What does this do to them? They are not living a normal life here”
Yasmin’s story is all too common in Gaza. The challenge for our Christian partners like the Al Ahli hospital is how to provide hope and stability when so often those things are out of their control. Over the coming months we’ll be listening to these voices from Gaza, and exploring how we can campaign to support an end to the violence and uncertainty in Gaza.
*Name has been changed