I gazed out the window of our beautiful condo and noticed a boy who had to be at least 7 years of age or younger outside kicking a deflated soccer ball while laughing so loud and carefree. Despite the fear, he still managed to smile from ear to ear. The aroma of fresh produce of all sorts filled the helpless city. His beautiful olive skin toned face was covered in scratches and permanent scars. He was dressed in ratty pajamas that were plastered with dust and sand from the rough and demolished streets.
Several minutes of kicking the soccer ball back and fourth, he rushed across the unstable pavement to escort an elderly man to a food stand where he then paid for a freshly ripe mango and gracefully fed it to him. In that moment, I realized this is where I wanted to be.
Palestine was the place I could call home.
The people of Palestine were the bravest and most courageous people in the whole world. For example leaving Palestine requires a visa that could take a maximum of 15 years to receive. Also, the Gaza security barrier run by Israel is only open for a limited amount of time and can close whenever unannounced; Palestinians must endure hours of interrogation for simple travel requests. From dealing with power outages every day, to running out of water, and never ending nightmares from past massacres, all of us Palestinians have one thing in common. Interdependence from all over the world.
The Palestinians living in the Gaza strip depend on each other for survival items and shelter. Other Palestinian emigrants living all over the world hold protests and rely on each other for support when it comes to defending their country. Palestinians living in Gaza face many difficult hardships every single day of their lives. Every year the city of Gaza rapidly depopulates because of poverty.
When the Israeli barrier allows emigrants to enter, my family and I travel and spend the summer with our relatives. Only seeing them once every three or four years is extremely difficult and devastating, but the amount of joy and happiness we experience when we reunite make up for the loss of time.
All of my relatives in Palestine encourage me to follow my own path and stay in America, but to also stay true to myself and never forget where I came from. Despite the misleading propaganda plastered all over News networks, I believe it is my responsibility to inform everyone the truth about the daily struggles these innocent Palestinians face every day.
Whenever I visit Gaza, I’ve always seen strangers go out of their way to help others, whether it’s one paying for another’s cab fair, or helping a woman haul her groceries into her apartment. These genuine acts of kindness prove that humanity still exists regardless the amount of destruction the city faces on a daily basis.
I hope one day I’m able to say that Palestine is a free country and the Israeli conflict is settled. I feel blessed to be living in the United States and exposed to unlimited opportunities, but I know in my heart Palestine is where I belong.
About the author- Rana Sharif was born in Omaha Nebraska, and was raised by Heyam and Muneer Sharif. Her parents came to the decision to emigrate from the Gaza Strip in 1993 to the U.S in hopes of discovering new opportunities and a newly improved lifestyle for their kids. Rana spends her free time writing stories of all genres, listening to music and traveling.
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