PRCS’ Volunteers: Working in the Line of Fire
By: Ra’ed al Nims
Ahmad Yihya Awad (28) carries out voluntary work for Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of peaceful protests known as the March of Return a few months ago, Ahmad has been evacuating and assisting Palestinian casualties along Gaza’s eastern borders alongside other PRCS’ volunteers and emergency medical technicians (EMTs). What Ahmad sees in the line of duty causes him great distress, as well as mixed feeling of sadness, fear, satisfaction and happiness.
Speaking about his experience as a volunteer, Ahmad said: “I became a PRCS’ volunteer nine years ago and attended many courses on humanitarian and emergency interventions. My love for voluntary work and my wish to help others increased with time. I am always happy when I am volunteering, despite being targeted by the Israeli army".
He added: "Every time before I report for duty along the Strip’s eastern borders, I sit with my family and we talk and laugh. I know that my line of work is quite dangerous and that I might die in the field, but I am driven by my belief in our noble humanitarian mission. Not so long ago, one of my colleagues was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper a few feet away from me. He looked at me with pleading eyes, but there was nothing I could do and he died before the ambulance got there. I cried so much that day as I held him, still bleeding, in my arms. Then I dried my tears, controlled myself and returned to work despite my pain".
Ahmad said: "Israeli occupation soldiers have targeted several volunteers and EMTs with live ammunition. This of course terrifies us all because it means they do not respect the Red Crescent emblem. They had already killed two PRCS’ volunteers in 2014: Mohamad Al Abadleh and A’ed Al Bur’ei. I personally inhaled tear gas on several occasions and was hospitalized once after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister. However, the satisfaction I feel after a long day spent saving lives makes me forgot my suffering. No amount of pain would prevent me from carrying out my humanitarian duty and returning to the field”.