At Muslim Hands, we have a diverse team working in over 40 countries across the world. With the ongoing crisis in Gaza, we took a look at the team on the ground and spoke to country manager Saed to find out what life’s like in Gaza and how Muslim Hands is working to help local people who are suffering in this crisis.
Assalamu ‘alaikum Saed! Hello from London! Could you tell us a bit about where you’re based and what your role is?
Wa ‘alaikum salam. Hello from Gaza! MH-Gaza is based in Gaza city - the biggest city in Gaza Strip. My role as a country office manager is to make sure that all our projects and programmes run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
What’s life like on a daily basis for locals in Gaza? What are some of the challenges they face?
Life in Gaza is totally different to any other city in the world. Gazans are crammed into a confined area and face countless obstacles. Gazans dream of being able to get up in the morning and enjoy the sun shining without having to worry about bombings or further destruction. The 12-year blockade, along with the prolonged conflict in Palestine, has added a new chapter of hardship to the lives of the Palestinian people - particularly the people of Gaza.
The misery here is endless! At 39%, poverty rates are still soaring, unemployment is also rising at above 60% amongst young people and food insecurity remains high as well at 47%. Restrictions imposed on the movement of goods to and from Gaza have undermined the already demolished economic system.
Life in Gaza is also compounded by the long hours of darkness as fuel shortages and the electricity crisis have reached catastrophic levels. There’s also the threat of water being contaminated by untreated sewage. The health system is unable to meet people’s needs due to the severe lack of electricity and all sort of medication and medical equipment. In the 21st century, it really is unacceptable to see people dying because of lack of basic health care.
How do you reach the needy and address these issues?
Everyone is suffering but in different ways. Reports by the UN, along with INGOs and other local and governmental institutions, have shown that the people of Gaza are in a dire need of urgent intervention in order to put an end to the dilemmas and obstacles they face daily.
The Muslim Hands database, which we update daily, shows that the numbers of impoverished families is increasing dramatically each year. Reports by our social workers have also confirmed that things are worse than ever. Our needs assessment reports have shown that Gaza is desperate for any help possible to ease the pains and lessen the risks that civilians face.
We’re trying to bring hope and reflect the trials and tribulations that Gazans struggle with every day. One of the ways we do this is by working with local partners.
What are some of the obstacles you face in delivering aid and helping beneficiaries?
The political and economic instability in Gaza make things difficult. Plans can be turned upside down at any given moment so we prepare emergency plans, which we routinely update to avoid risks and overcome potential sudden obstacles.
Cuts to electricity for long hours really put pressure on our work. We’re forced to plan and organise our activities around this. The closure of borders also means that we’ve not been able to access goods in local markets. Searching for alternatives is obviously very time consuming.
The rapid increase in the numbers of needy families in Gaza and their specific needs creates a lot of pressure. INGOs cannot meet all the needs of the Palestinian community on their own. This is why it’s important for MH and other INGOs to be on the ground.
Our team works tirelessly alongside community members to eradicate the roots of poverty in the Gaza Strip. We’re using the resources available in the most efficient way possible.
Thank you Saed for such a great insight into life in Gaza.
And thank you to all our donors for your continued support. The situation in Gaza is incredibly difficult for the men, women and children living in the Strip. Please remember these families in crisis when giving your sadaqah and Zakat. They require vital ongoing support each and every day.