Gaza, January 8, 2010 (Pal Telegraph)This is the story of Mahdi abu Zer, 14 years old, living in a very marginalized area called the Qarah district, Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip. His father was killed leaving the family in dire need of support. The re-marriage of his mother has made Mahdi’s life even worse rather than better. Mahdi and his other two siblings were forced to leave her and live under the guardianship of their jobless grandfather along with their aunt. Mahdi’s home was completely destroyed two years ago as a result of the ongoing incursions in their area . Since that time, the entire family consisting of 3 members has been living miserably in a tent of 17 square meters. To make things worse, reconstruction material has been denied access in Gaza due to the ongoing Israeli blockade on Gaza since June 2007, preventing building and raw materials from entering. Life here is really tough and unbearable for this tiny family. ” I can never forget the days of the recent war. It was the time my home was completely bulldozed and bombed two years ago”. “During the war we moved to be sheltered by our relatives who are not far from us”.
Mahdi is now in Grade 8 and his education progress records are good but life always deprives him of its beauty. The living conditions of the family is gravely harsh and intolerable. As the family lives in a tent, they can not bear the cold weather in winter nor the heat in summer. Gloomily, they have become completely dependent on the aid that regularly offered from the social affairs and other such organizations. These agencies deliver basic requirements of goods such as ( flour, cooking oil, beans….. ) but no essentials containing calcium C which means Mahdi has not received vegetables, fruit, milk and other foods that contain calcium C. This affects Mahdi negatively in terms of health and education. As mentioned above, Mahdi is 14 years old. As a result of the lack of vitamins, particularly Calcium C, he recently lost two teeth. His body is critically weak as a result as well.
Concerning Mahdi’s educational progress, it has been turned up-side down as he is severely suffering from malnutrition. His scholastic achievements have fallen due to the dreadful environment he is living in. Waleed Saqa, Mahdi’s teacher of English, stated that ” Mahdi’s behavior is a significant result of the conditions surrounding him. He feels that the entire world is fighting against him which affects him negatively in dealing with his school mates. He plays violently with his friends. That is because of the deprivation that he is experiencing” the teacher stressed.
With very little sources of income, Mahdi and his younger brother Mohammed go searching for scraps of iron and aluminum to sell in order to raise funds for their school expenses, which are very low.
The childhood of Mahdi leaves a few unanswered questions…. Why must life be like this for his family? What does the future hold for him? Is there not a UN resolution about rights of children? Why should children in Gaza be treated in this manner? Will peace be prevail one day?