Wafaa* is 13 and lives in Beit Hanoun, in the north of the Gaza Strip
Wafaa* is a 13 year-old student in Khalil Ewieda Preparatory School in the North of the Gaza Strip. She lives in Beit Haboun area which was severely affected in the last operation “Protective Edge”. Wafaa’s dream is to become a doctor because she wants to help people. She wants to establish her own hospital and provide good medical services to patients free of charge.
Wafaa participated in a series of capacity buildings sessions in the “Support to Quality Education project” targeting schools in the Access Restricted Areas along the border with Israel. The sessions aimed at improving the leadership skills of distinguished children to enable them to be active contributors in their schools as well as to play leading roles in their schools and their communities.
“My name is Wafaa*. I am 13 years old. I have two sisters and one brother. I live in Izzbit Beit Hanoun area. My father used to work in Israel before the second intifada but he has been unemployed since 2001. He worked hard to build our home which is now partially destroyed.
My area was the first to be targeted by the airstrike which hit a number of homes near the border with Israel. A number of homes were destroyed in my neighbourhood so we had to leave the house. While we were seeking shelter in Beit Lahia area [which was a bit safer than our area], we crossed over injured people and dead bodies till we reached our relatives in Beit Lahia. My siblings were terrified and cried all the time. I was scared too. We stayed with our relatives until there was a ceasefire. We returned to see what happened to our home. We found it partially destroyed. All windows were broken. Many of my things including trophies and gifts I got from school were damaged.
I felt down because of what happened and all things I’ve experienced. I cried in the first week of school. I cried for the children who lost their lives, for the students who suffered a lot and for all the damage that took place. I cried for my siblings who were badly affected by the bombings. My mother was afraid too. She worried about us too much. I thanked God that we survived and I haven’t lost any family member.
In 2014, I was a member in the students’ council representing my class. We discussed daily issues at school and helped some students in solving some of the problems they face at school. Later, I was nominated by my class to be part of the Child Leadership Group (CLG). We did election and I gained many votes. First, we were introduced to the project and briefed about Save the Children activities in Gaza. We learned about the activities of this project and we set rules for the upcoming sessions. It was an interesting experience for me.
After attending several sessions, I was able to communicate better with my colleagues at school and listen to their problems and concerns. We [ the CLG] collected many donations to help needy girls. In addition, we communicated different kinds of problems to the teachers and management, and in their turn they supported us to find solutions to them. I put all the things that we’ve learned from the sessions into practice especially in situations where critical thinking and leadership are needed.
There was one incident with a student with learning difficulties who refused to be taught and supported by any colleague in the class. She was afraid that she’s going to be perceived as a fool or so. I volunteered to spend some time with her and teach some remedial class. She was hesitant at the beginning but after I explained to her that we are all equal and that I understand that sometimes we face some challenges where we become unfocused and don’t achieve the expected results. Finally, she was relieved and she accepted the idea that I become her teacher. I felt very happy that I was able to help.
Last year, I was selected to represent my school in a meeting held with parents and teachers to discuss the progress of their children and to address any challenges associated with it. After going through all of this, I felt it was useful for me to participate in different trainings and sessions and to be a member in the Child Leadership Group in my school. I feel empowered. Moreover, I feel I am able to help other students by listening to their problems and discussing them with our teachers."
*name changed to protect identity