After one short night at Neve Shalom Hotel (Place of Peace) we made the long crossing from Israel to Gaza and were greeted by beloved friends. Gaza remains under siege by Israel. Most of the supply tunnels from Egypt are closed and we heard from our friends that the economy here is suffering. Goods coming from Israel are expensive and often such items as fuel are not available. Electricity is rationed to eight hours on and off. More on this…
This afternoon, prior to our orientation meeting with representatives from our host, Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, the Ministry of Health and the two hospitals where we will do most of our work, we had a short tour of central Gaza. We stopped at the harbor and were spontaneously greeted by a wonderful group of young women who insisted that we accompany them on a fast boat ride. One told me with delight that though her English is excellent, she had never spoken to someone whose primary language is English. The ride was exhilarating and the laughter of the young women was beautiful.
Traveling down the Gaza Coast, we witnessed again the lovely Mediterranean and the ugly pollution of the streams carrying untreated sewage into the sea. As we returned to Gaza City, the incomplete construction begun prior to the closure to the tunnels is evident everywhere.
Our meeting with our hosts in the evening was joyful and most worked out a schedule for the work we will do in the week ahead. Work begins soon!!