// Entry #2, Day -1
It’s a common cultural practice to visit an individual or family before it embarks on any long travels. These visits generally involve hours of well-wishing, reminiscing on past experiences, and passing along relevant advice all over a tray of minty tea and cake slices. But this round of community support is unique in that it has also taken into account the welfare and livelihood of the people we hope to visit.
The oppressive nature of the occupation oftentimes encourages certain outlets to sensationalize Palestinian suffering as a collective ‘beg’ for survival. This isn’t the case at all. Palestinians are strong-willed and innovative people; they do not constitute a charity case. But keep in mind that the Gaza Strip is still under siege. Even the most trivial items aren’t allowed through the Erez checkpoint, with canned fruit and chocolate being just two of many. Therefore, one of our many roles as socially-conscientious human beings is to challenge the unjust purpose of this siege. The community here in Chicago has clearly embraced this role.
Here is a brief selection of some of the items people have requested we take with us:
The Mixed-Up Chameleon
I was three years old when the famous book The Very Hungry Caterpillar was published and I remember it being read to me by my daycare counselors. The Mixed-Up Chameleon is another childhood masterpiece. If you were born in the 1990s, this children’s book most likely played a critical role in your understanding of what chameleons do. The individual who donated this book requested that it be put into an elementary school library so that other children may experience the joys and wisdom of this book.
Imagine having to perform a medical procedure without sterile gloves, or imagine having to deal with an allergic reaction to latex because no other alternatives exist. Believe it or not, most of Gaza’s hospitals and fire departments are understocked with even the most basic and essential items, especially the 100-count packs of gloves that can be found in virtually every American store. The individual who donated the box of gloves requested it be put to use in a health and safety facility requiring their sterility and durability.
Fire department t-shirts
Firemen all over the world serve the same purpose: they put their lives on the line to fight fire. Their exists an innate brotherhood between firefighters that resonates world-wide. There’s also a tradition in which firemen exchange department t-shirts between each other similar to the way international football stars trade jerseys after high-profile matches. The individual who donated the t-shirts requested they be given to Gaza’s elite firemen in exchange for a photograph of them wearing the shirts.
Bless this community for being so thoughtful and inspiring. The gifts are small and simple, yes, but they will definitely make a world of difference.