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Gaza Situation Update
Visit 10-12 February 2015

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25 Feb 2015 By Sami El-Yousef

During this visit, we were accompanied by a senior level group from Misereor, the aid agency of the Catholic Church in Germany, which has partnered with us and our colleague, Mr. Joseph Hazboun. This was his first time to the Gaza Strip. We wanted to introduce our friends at Misereor to the institutions and people they have supported for many years so that they have an honest hands-on account of the real Gaza and its desperate situation. We also wanted to monitor and evaluate CNEWA/Pontifical Mission of Palestine’s ongoing projects, many of which are related to the emergency intervention as well as discuss with our various partners current and future needs. Finally, we hoped our presence in Gaza demonstrates our commitment to helping the people of Gaza where many continue to feel abandoned and are losing hope. I am very happy to report that the visit was a great success in meeting all its goals.

Visit with Misereor to NECC, Al‐Ahli Arab Hospital, Rosary Sisters School and Shija’ia neighborhood:
After the Erez clearance, we made quick visit to the Near East Council of Churches (NECC) Clinic in Shija’ia to observe a psychosocial session in progress. We were told that some of the women — whom lived in the destroyed neighborhood, had lost their loved ones or lost their homes and are now homeless, live with either family members or in makeshift ‘school shelters’ which are still open. It was amazing to see how these mothers are so resilient despite their enormous loss and have the courage to speak with our guests. A common message that was said: “Despite what you hear about us, we love life — we want to live in peace — enough is enough — help stop the wars — tell our story to the world — and thank you for being with us”. Powerful messages that truly touched our hearts!

We also headed to the NECC’s Vocational Training Center where a carpentry, blacksmithing and aluminum training workshops were already in session; over 100 young students were in class learning about the trade. If a serious reconstruction effort was launched to rebuild the roughly 100,000 structures destroyed by three wars in the past five years, these students will be immediately employed. However, the unfortunate continuation of the ‘status quo’ for Gaza, meaning that its economy will continue to be underdeveloped and youth will join the thousands upon thousands of unemployed people in the Gaza Strip who cannot find work. It must be very difficult for them not knowing what the future holds yet their spirits were high and could still joke and laugh.

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