I attended a second meeting of Kumi Now on 21.09.2021 because it is the World Week of Peace for Israel and Palestine this week, Saturday 18th September – 25th September, and I wanted to learn more.
The main speaker was Dr Bolos Swilem a 22 year old from Gaza who had just received his degree certificate in Dentistry on the day of the meeting. He told us there are many issues faced by the youth including persecution, injustice and violence which they are forced to engage with in daily life. The restrictions of the borders limits movement including medical supplies, access to educational opportunities and restricts knowledge from elsewhere such as the opportunities to attend conferences in other countries and learn skills from other medical professionals. There are issues of underground water sea pollution creating increased cancer and mortality rates. There is rising illiteracy, 50% unemployment with most youths terminating their studies at university and career shifting to find other work. There are a decreasing number of healthcare professionals who are often leaving to find work outside and send money back to families. What is needed is fixed term contracts rather than primary contracts to help people live. Men cannot afford to buy a house and get married.
Youth are graduating but without the possibility of getting a job. Many young people are trying to study Masters, however, this often involves travel abroad for better opportunities and it took up to a year for the administrative process including Visa’s, permission to leave the Gaza Strip, permission to go from Gaza to Jordan.
The lack of electricity to 12 hour or less a day affects many things including the mental health of children, the services hospitals can offer, the safe storage of drugs, the mortality rate with those on dialysis being badly affected by an irregular power supply.
There is rarely permission given to leave the Gaza Strip except at Christmas and Easter, however, even then permission is not given for the whole family so that they do not leave permanently and have a reason to return.
He said there are many things that can be done to support the youth of Gaza including first and foremost advocating the Palestinian cause, advanced course capacity building or encouraging experienced medical groups to come to Gaza to share their expertise to improve skills.
Dr Swilem did not want us to be saddened by the realities of Gaza because the youth are strong, used to these realities and have hope for the future.
Kumi Now – KUMI NOW – Together For Justice
World Council of Churches – World Week for Peace in Israel and Palestine