I thought long and hard before I accepted the work in Gaza when I was asked late 2015. I just got home from a 6-month emergency response mission in Nepal when it was requested, and I made my decision to join the team on Christmas day of that year and completed all my preparations to leave by the end of January 2016.
It was not easy because of the story one hears about the Middle East and of Palestine. I followed the story of Yasser Arafat when I was younger, and I had vivid in my memory the image of him barricading himself with rubbles during the intifada and him shaking hands with other dignitaries to commit to a peaceful solution in the situation between Israel and Palestine.
I almost backed out when I was asked one document where I have to give proof of life messages in case something happened and when all the precautions were told to me, including turning off my Facebook account in fact I get checked in the immigration.
In the end, I am glad I accepted the post.
I was met with resistance on all sides when I arrived.
One will think that because I am from the Philippines, I will have it easy in Israel, well it was not smooth as most Filipino I knew who had been in the country before because of my different situation, but it was still good comparatively.
I entered using a tourist visa, and I was told after waiting for some minutes in the side room that I should get my work permit, or they will deport me. So you guess right, I got it in time and stayed in the country for at least a year.
When I finally crossed the border to enter Gaza, I was not welcomed by the national staff like I am used to in my other projects and by the technical referrent in the region. Eventually, the cold reception in Gaza thawed but not the one in the area. But that is ordinary office drama, and I don’t very much care about that.
What I care about are the professionals I meant to work within the community and the people with disabilities they visit in their homes. That was more fulfilling and more worth my time because it gave me insights into the lives of people living in what’s dubbed to be the biggest open-air prison.
Day and Night view from my window
Out in the fieldKnufe (spelling varies) from one of the best sweets makers in Gaza who happens to works with us.
The mornings and afternoon in Gaza give me the hope that life is what you choose it to be looking at the sunrise and sunsets (mostly the latter as my room faces the Mediterranean seas).