Unprecedented levels of rain and snow on the Gaza Strip left thousands of Palestinians homeless, stranded, and cold this winter.
Mohammed Shbeir, 11, lives in one of the lowest regions of Gaza, near the Sheikh Radwan pool. This pool, which collects rainwater, flooded after it was unable to absorb the flow of 4.5 feet of rainfall this winter.
Mohammed’s family and other residents were trapped by the flood. Mohammed fled his house on a small fishing boat, packing only his school bag and some clothes, and sought shelter in a public school. While on the boat, he accidently let go of his stuff, which fell in the water.
In total, more than 140 families, including 250 children, were adversely affected by the flooding.
This situation only added misery to a population that is already suffering from a long history of Israeli siege and blockade.
Thanks to AFSC’s Emergency Response Program, AFSC was able to purchase warm clothing and school supplies for these children, who were hindered from going to school under such circumstances. AFSC turned to local vendors for the supplies, in an effort to stimulate the struggling Gaza economy and support the livelihood of fellow Palestinians.
“I was so happy to receive some of the items that were lost,” Mohammed explains. “I never expected this to happen.”
Reem, 10, also benefited from this aid. She adds: “The school bag and the clothing I received were my first joy after the tempest, fear, and tears I shed over my lost belongings.”
Volunteers and AFSC staff distributed the supplies as part of a project called “We are thinking of you,” which stems from AFSC’s deep desire to contribute to alleviating the misery. The project participants were eager to lend a helping hand to the affected children who, like other young people, have the right to go to school under regular conditions.
“I remember fleeing the house when the waters started to rise, my father put us in a bulldozer, me and my three siblings. Once I returned, my school bag, and clothes were all ruined. I was happy to find someone who could return to me some of the items I lost,” said 8-year-old Farah Abu Nahil.