Words by Ra’ed Al Nims, Palestine Red Crescent Society
“We are drowning… Help us!”
Palestine Red Crescent Society’s Operations Room in Gaza received this distressing call during heavy rains, strong wind and cold weather in late January 2020. A team from the Red Crescent’s Disaster Management Unit (DMU) was immediately sent to the scene. What they found was an old, broken-down house with a roof that had started to cave in, causing mud, water and stones to fall into the rooms.
“We were totally shocked by what we saw. Four brothers with their wives, children and their parents, 24 people in total, lived in this place that looked like it was slowly falling apart. Rain was falling down in torrents, and the children were terrified and crying”, says Saleem Abou Ras, 26, a member of the DMU team.
The team carried out a rapid assessment of the family’s needs and handed them tarpaulin sheets, cleaning tools, mattresses and blankets.
“I live with my wife and five children in one room in this tiny house. Heavy rain made the roof of our room collapse and water, mud and stones fell on us while we were sleeping. My children were terrified. I did not know what to do. With the support from the Palestine Red Crescent, we managed to get through that horrible night”, says Maher Al Kishawi, 38, one of the four brothers.
“Our family is very big and we have no source of income. Without the help from the Red Crescent, our lives would have certainly been in danger”, his wife, Suad Al Kishawi, 35, added.
After that night, Red Crescent team visited the family again and provided them with additional relief items.
“We are safe, at least for the time being. Most importantly, my children can now sleep in a warm room”, Suad Al Kishawi says.
The Red Crescent teams have distributed tarpaulin sheets, blankets, mattresses, heaters, hygiene kits and other relief items to around 450 families affected by cold weather in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestine Red Crescent Society continues to monitor the situation and to support people affected.