Saturday, May 30, 2009

Last day in Gaza...

Tonight is my last night in Gaza. Tomorrow, we meet the fishermen (whose boats are targeted by Israeli pirates- official government pirates of course, but still pirates, as one member of our delegation pointed out), then meet with anLother NGO, then head towards the Rafah crossing and back to Cairo.
I am not ready to leave. It's not that I want to stay. "Want" is not the right word. I don't know the right words. One woman said, "Sometimes I think that words are not made for what we go through." Maybe that is why I don't know the right ones. How can I write when my notes are disjointed, one thought after another, hopeless/hopeful, emotional/detached, metaphor mixes with reality until the line would almost certainly be blurred for anyone that hasn't seen and/or doesn't know the extent, the truth, the reality of the horrors that have happened here.
But perhaps the blur exists because reality is blurred as well. People's eyes glisten with leftover tears when they smile and tell the story of their struggle with pride. The light of creativity shines through the cracks of the destruction, but no amount of creativity can rebuild a house in a sustainable way when the siege prohibits construction materials- even though that creativity CAN make a mercedes run on batteries (which apparently it has).
And yet people survive. Continue to struggle. Continue to live.
I am fairly certain I had a very similar sentence in my blog when I was in the West Bank. I am impressed. I don't know if I could do it. I think I would break.
One woman said "All people are brave here," when someone complimented her personal bravery. She is right. I know that the answer to "how?" is "They have no choice." And I know. But when I ask "how?" I don't expect an answer. The answer isn't the point, it's the question that matters. The validation of the struggle and the strength. The recognition that while we might explain things to ourselves, and listen to story after story of terror, we will never truly understand how they feel or how they keep going despite all this...not just living, but resisting as well, although of course, "to exist is to resist," so I suppose it's all the same.
I will write more later. I will write about the fields that "bloomed" with the rubble of houses - of homes. I will write about the farmers who cannot farm without being shot because of the "buffer zone" that, of course, the Israelis put on the Palestinian side of Gaza, which is already so condensed, so overpopulated, and where some of the most fertile land is right on the border. I will write about the fishermen who cannot fish because the gunboats shoot. The families who lost their homes - and there are so many. Those who lost a member of their family. The marks white phosphorous left behind on the walls of peoples' homes- and on peoples' bodies. And I will write about how people organize here, provide services to their community, some people who return, despite the fact that they got out, because they do not want to abandon their home or their community. I will write about all this and more - just not yet. I'm not ready to elaborate. All I have are notes, thoughts, feelings, and, like so many people who have lived this or just witnessed it, leftover tears. Perhaps with those tears, the words will come. Later.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Al Arish, still en route...

The internet wasn't working last night when I wrote this, but here it is today...

Day Two: Al close, but there's a border in the way...

Today began at the US Embassy, which felt like a glorified DMV, where we paid $30 each to sign away our consular rights, because apparently it helps pave the very, very complicated road (of hoops) (is that mixing metaphors?) to Gaza. Then we drove to Al Arish, the town on the Egyptian side of the border. I caught a glimpse of the Nile in Egypt & the sea here in Al Arish, but there was no time to visit either...and tomorrow, early in the morning, we head to the border. It's strange to be in a place with so much vibrant history and no time to explore it.

Of course, that doesn't mean there isn't time for thoughts. Driving through the Sinai, looking out the window and watching the desert, the plants, & the people go about their days, I thought about how so much of Palestine would look similar if it weren't occupied – if so much of it hadn't been stolen. Even the land would be free to self-identify as “desert,” without anyone requiring it to bloom beyond its own inclination.

...More soon.
Also, check out this guy's blog:
He's on the same trip as I am.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

In Cairo...

I'm in Cairo checking email, posting on facebook & my blog...
strange things can be so "typical" so far from home -
of course the music in the background is different...but the honking horns sound about the same.

In a couple of days I'll be in Gaza. Most of you who read my blog know this already, because I've told you, or because I mentioned it on facebook.
I was going to wait until I was in Gaza to blog, but then I realized that I DO already have things to say...

(one) I'm scared. I am writing that here because in our group conversation (I'm going with a delegation) we talked about check-ins & I began to think about emotion - how the trip will be more powerful in every way if we open ourselves up to what we will feel - how a lot of the organizations we will visit & meet with deal with trauma, and that to deny our own emotions, and pretend we are "above" them is to disrespect them & their work. So, I admit that I'm afraid.

(two) I'm excited. Before signing up for this delegation, I didn't even know the extent of work that is happening in Gaza. I'm sure I'll have more to say about this later. I'm also here with a lot of people I don't know, but people I suspect are pretty amazing. So that's exciting too. And there's a BIG student delegation here as well, and a bigger Code Pink delegation on its way in a few's inspiring that so many people want to witness & share what they see.