OPT: After the flood in North Gaza

Originally published
June 13, 2007 - Gaza - The Bedouin village of Um An-Nasir in the Northern Gaza Strip suffered a severe flood of wastewater on March 27, 2007. Shortly thereafter, on a nearby hillside, UNRWA positioned tents for the newly homeless families.

Caritas Jerusalem was there when the disaster happened and we wanted to follow up on the situation to see how the people were managing under the current situation in Um An-Nasir. We wanted particularly to get a child's perspective. In this regard, we met six-year-old Ayman Al Braq. After seeing his home destroyed and full of wastewater, we wanted to know how Ayman feels? How is he living? How is his life progressing considering he is such a young boy facing such big challenges?

He told us about what happened to him. "When the flood happened, I was at school. Suddenly, our teacher told us to leave the school and return home to our families. We went back home by bus ... Then, I saw the sea of dirty water filling the area and there was our house. Sewage water was everywhere ... my family and I were crying. Doors and cupboards were floating in the dirty water. The village was a sea. Wherever I looked at the village, I saw sewage water and the smell was unbearable. We realized that we had lost everything."

Ayman's mother talked about seeing her son realizing that he had not been harmed: "It was something scary. I saw Ayman and I ran toward him. I thanked God that he was safe at school." On the day of the flood, sadly many of the victims were children.

Such a catastrophe has certainly affected Ayman's life negatively. However, Ayman is making the best of it. Even though he lost his toys and many of his storybooks during the flood, he is trying to be positive, which under the current situation is not easy.

The Al Braq family is one of many homeless families now living in a tent city near their village, which is still not fit for human habitation. They expect that the government will find them shelters and provide them with houses, but now they wait and do not know what to do. It will take time to renovate their ruined houses.

Before he sleeps, Ayman used to read a story with his mother. Now he looks at the sky at night counting the stars waiting for a way out of the current situation for his family. It is so difficult for a child to live without proper shelter and his family, like so many others facing this terrible situation, feels neglected.