Saturday, January 17

Majdas Journal

Majeda El-Saqqa, Director of Public Relations at Culture and Free Thought Association, an MCC partner organization, graciously shares the following notes of experiences over the past few weeks with us, offering a glimpse of life in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

2 January, 2009
Wael, my four-year old nephew, loves to watch birds. For the last six days, every day he looks up at the sky and wonders why the birds take so long to go to their nests. He tells me that every day birds used to go to their homes directly, only maybe once or twice would they fly around the house. Yesterday Wael was watching his birds and all of a sudden an F16 started roaming about, occupying the sky. The birds flew from right to left and then back again -- every time they found a safe area in the sky an airplane would drop another shell and the birds would flee to the other side. In the beginning, Wael was laughing and he called all his brothers to watch how the birds were dislocated. But today Wael is really angry; he feels that the birds are not safe.

Wael tells me: "Last night when I went to sleep the airplane hit my finger... I know you don't believe me, but it fell down and set fire to our garden. I could smell the fire.

"What did you do?"

"I was looking for my airplane to go up and take all the birds to their mother because they were calling me to help them."

"Did you help them?"

He gives me a very angry look and says, "Of course not!"


"Because you didn't buy me an airplane, so I couldn't do anything for them
and they are really angry with me."

I look at Wael:"Listen, I promise you when this war is over I will buy you a very
big airplane, with a remote control."

He asks: "What is war?"

"War is what we are living now.
Like what you saw in your dream."

"And why would any one make this war?"

I think that he's got the idea and then he continues: "Why would anyone not want the birds to go back to their nests?"

I look at Wael and say: "We will continue later..."

He is happy with my new promise and I am happy I've managed to cut the conversation short.

4 January, 2009
Yesterday was most awful day we ever lived, I think. My mother said even the
1967 War was not this bad. No electricity, very little water, freezing cold and most horrific was the cold accompanied by the live war orchestra.

Tanks bombing from the ground incursion, F16s bombing, the drone which keeps going around in circles all day and night non-stop, making this annoying sound as if there is a bee just at the edge of your ear. Added to all of this, is the sound of shelling from the sea. War melody, is what I want to call it.

Wael keeps asking: Why does the pilot want to kill the birds? Why does the pilot hate birds? Maybe he doesn’t know that they have a life like us...

I 'm shocked by his question: "Maybe he doesn’t know that birds have a life?"

I ask Wael to come inside because it's freezing cold outside. His birds are no longer in the sky. "Come let's play the Alaska game!"
"What is Alaska?"
"It's a new game we'll all play with grandmother. Each of us has her/his own blanket to cover all of the body from head to toe."
I don't know if we were trying to warm ourselves or trying to hide from all the bombing.. Whatever it was, it felt better since there was no electricity and no birds in the sky comforting us.
"Ok, Wael, you are the head of the state of Alaska, and we are the people of
Alaska. What do you order us to do?" I started the game...
"I order you to go to the shop and buy me an airplane, a cage and seeds," he said, sucking on his thumb.
"Why?" I ask. "You need to explain to me."
"I want to fly up, up, up -- till I reach god! I will bring all my birds, and put them in a cage. I'll fly again, and I'll catch the pilot. I will bring him here and give him the seeds to feed the birds."
I look at Wael as the bombing continues, he's quite anxious.
...And I thought the Alaska game could bring some kind of creative ideas to
bring warmth to our bodies and some life under this bombardment.

Unfortunately, it wasn't a very smart idea. So I just obeyed my mother's order: we all got closer to each other and created a net of hugs that really brought warmth to our life and very little security.

We kept listening to the melody coming from outside and we started to count
the bombs out loud; 1, 2, 3, ... 28, ... 32 .... The kids don’t know how to continue counting after 50, so we stopped.

Heather and Ryan Lehman live in Jerusalem and are the Program Directors for MCC Palestine. They are here on a 3 year term and are from Johnstown, PA. They have 3 children, Tayllor (12), Ellena (9) and Elijah (2).

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