A day in the life...
It’s so hard to write what I really feel. Feelings are running high here in the EA house in Jerusalem. While the bombs started raining down on Gaza, we had just returned from another house demolition. They are a family of 7; 5 children, the youngest who is 2. The mother is pregnant with her 6th child and now they are homeless.
My colleagues had been at the demolition the few days before, their house had been destroyed, along with the neighbour’s car which was ‘just in the way’ and also got crushed. The father is a refugee whose family are all in Jordan and the mother doesn’t have any close family nearby. They had saved and taken out a loan to build this house which was large enough for their family. Now they were sleeping in their car, still paralyzed with shock at what had happened.
House demolitions are a regular occurrence across Area C in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. People build without building permits because there are no plans for their villages and cities. They build because their families grow and they want to extend their houses.
The International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent had delivered a tent and emergency supplies. We helped them to finish erecting the tent. I wish we had arrived earlier to help them put it up as it wasn’t erected well and I was worried how they would fare in it overnight. The instructions were all in English and they didn’t speak English and had obviously never been on camping holidays before, so their knowledge of putting up a tent was limited. We fixed the tent and secured it as best we could, praying that it wouldn’t rain during the night as it was already too cold and agreed that we would get in touch with some agencies to see if there was any more help they could access. We promised to come and visit again soon. We left with the 2 year old cradled in her mother’s arms as there was nowhere else for her to nap. The mother had already explained to us that they didn’t have a bathroom and were having to bother the neighbours and when you’re pregnant you need to use the bathroom a lot. As we left I realised that there were tears running down my cheeks and I quickly wiped them away, my pity will do nothing to help them.
Earlier that day, we had visited a young woman (21) who had just given birth to her first baby. We went to the maternity ward at the hospital and greeted her and her newborn son, Mohammed. He was gorgeous and we got to have a cuddle with him. It was all very lovely, until you remembered that we were able to see and cuddle this young boy before even his father had seen him. You see, this mother lives in Elizariya, otherwise known as Bethany, just outside Jerusalem and unfortunately for them, outside the separation barrier. This meant that her husband and sisters couldn’t get a permit to come to Jerusalem to see the new addition to the family.
The mother herself had a difficult time even getting to the hospital to have the baby. She was due for an appointment with the hospital on Sunday, but when she went to the checkpoint she wasn’t allowed through. She tried again on Monday and the same thing. On Tuesday finally she was allowed through to Jerusalem, but her husband was denied a permit and she had to go alone. Her sisters called a friend in Jerusalem to meet her at the hospital. She was advised that she needed to stay in hospital overnight as the baby was going to come soon and it would be better for her if she was already at the hospital. Her mother and mother in law got permits to go to Jerusalem on the Wednesday and were there for the birth of the baby, but they were not allowed to stay. Meanwhile, her husband and sisters are unable to get permits so she is alone in the hospital. We were with the family on Wednesday afternoon when they heard that the baby had been born. We were begged to go and visit and of course we agreed. We went on Thursday morning and were able to support this young mother with her adorable baby son. We are visiting the family again and hope to see that she is home with her family around her celebrating this first grandchild.