how do they keep living?

Hamsa’s wife Iman is very near the end of her term, due to give birth any day now. Thinking that she may have already had her baby, I called her this morning to ask her news.

Only because I had called did Hamsa divulge their latest problems: they need an adequate doctor, because Iman is quite young and this is her first childbirth and they are worried the public doctors won’t be good enough. But they don’t have the money to cover a private doctor’s fees. Hamsa mentioned that his horse has been sick for the last 10 days, so for the last 10 days he has not worked collecting plastics for re-sale.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with it,” he told me. “I’ve brought a vet to look at him, he said the horse is fine.” But when Hamsa hooks the horse up to its cart, it doesn’t walk. He’s spent what money he had, which wasn’t much, on vet fees. Now, his son due in a matter of days, jobless, and uncertain what to do about the horse, his work, a doctor, their future, Hamsa looks like he’s aged years since I last saw him a few weeks ago.

Later, as I’m discussing this with a friend, saying ‘they are very poor, live very modestly,’ he replies, ‘there’s so many, so many like this in Gaza. Ayiishiin. Living.”

But how, how are they living?

Maybe the visitor to Gaza thinks the siege is overplayed. ‘No one is starving in Gaza,’ some say.

And yes, people here are somehow scraping by.

But they are being starved. Of a real life, free from the oppression of poverty, of joblessness, of worry how to get by each day. They’re being starved of education, of dreams, of contact with friends, family, and perfect strangers outside.

And Hamsa, whose donkey was killed in the massacre and whose extended family all live in great poverty, many with sicknesses needing treatment outside, is caught between the daily survival worries and the worries of any would-be parent, for his child’s health, his wife’s health, their lives.

I don’t know how they keep living.

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