It’s these simple yet poignant questions that highlight the hardest thing about losing loved ones: the empty spaces left behind. These points of emptiness and loss linger in your memory, your thoughts, and all around you.
One memory, in particular, is the Al Swarka family. Everyone I meet here remembers this family. Sadly, all that’s left of them are two young girls. The family were hit during an airstrike on their house in a rural area in Gaza. Everyone else died.
I can’t imagine how these two children felt when they woke up in the hospital without a father, a mother, their siblings, their cousins, and of course: knowing they’d lost their home. For children who survive such trauma, they’re now about to take the first step on the journey into a totally new and unknown life.
They’re left trying to find a new home, digging through the rubble of their former home for whatever they can find – their school bags, notebooks, toys and clothes. Every time, I think of situations like this, I stand in shock.
Here in Gaza, your home is everything. You work around the clock to give your family shelter. Inside these four walls, you place all your dreams, hopes, beliefs, and a reason to keep going amongst hardship. However, in a fraction of a second: you could then lose it all.
I can’t imagine myself in a similar situation. Every time my daughter sees a house that’s been demolished or under construction, she asks me: “Dad, has this house been bombed?” Yes, these are the ideas lingering in our children’s heads. Her perception of houses is always connected to war. And indeed, everything residents own or will have is at stake.