HER STORY #46 - basma
I am 22 years old. I have a Bachelor's degree in English literature from the Islamic University of Gaza. I also work in an organization that helps people and deals with women’s issues.
I am also a writer at the We Are Not Numbers project, which includes stories about people [living in Gaza], and in addition to this, I am an English teacher.
I divide my time [to do all of this]. The writing is not very hard, and I do it easily.
In my fourth year at university, I worked as a teacher of the English language, so while I was working, I was also writing. I began working at the We Are Not Numbers project a couple of months ago. A lot of my friends also work there as writers, and they encouraged me to volunteer.
I am from The Shuja’iyya neighborhood [in Gaza].
It’s not a civilized place, but that’s okay. You wouldn’t understand.
A lot of people live here. It’s the biggest neighborhood [in terms of population] in Gaza. There are approximately 200,000 people live here, and we have a population crisis.
I enjoy life here a little bit, although we don’t have much electricity. It lasts only four hours [daily], which makes it difficult to work regularly. The lack of electricity is a big problem here. We suffer from this issue, but we can deal with it.
I graduated in November 2016, which I wrote about at We Are Not Numbers, and which was a difficult experience.
I had to delay my last exam at university because of the grade I received in one course. I didn’t get the grade that I wanted. So I didn’t graduate with my friends. I took the exam in the summer after the final exam and graduated alone, without any friends.
It was the worst feeling, but, at the same time, I would say that it encouraged me to work harder, because life doesn’t stop at these tiny things.
Here in Gaza you can say that our dreams are not that big. All the youths want to travel and get jobs, but here in Gaza the job situation is very difficult. For me, personally, I hope to get a very good job and to have a better life.
Although it’s not always possible for people living in Gaza, we can do what others can’t do. What I mean is that although there is a conflict and wars, we can deal with different issues. We find jobs, and we have families. We live our lives. People here have temporary jobs, have families, and deal with the most terrible and harsh experiences.
We don’t have any other choices. We are forced to live like this, so we deal with it.
I hope to find a better job in Gaza, but I can’t do anything for now. I am hoping to find a better future. What I fear the most is living without dreams or with nothing to experience.
If we compare the aggression in Gaza in 2014 and today, no change has happened.
At the time  I was completing my Bachelor’s degree, and I had a job. Each school and university stopped operating, and students had to stop going to university because it was too harsh to attend.
We [interviewee and her family] stayed at home, doing nothing – just eating, drinking, and watching TV and movies.
It is not a good feeling to be a human being without a life. We didn’t have the life that most people have in other countries. We couldn’t find our humanity.
Out Of Gaza
I always dream of living elsewhere, not any particular place, but just to get out of Gaza. I’ve never been out [of Gaza].
Perhaps the first place I would like to visit is the United States. I have friends who live there, and I also hear that that is where they have the most academic scholarships for Palestinians, so I would have a better chance of studying and living there.
My brother had the chance to emigrate from Gaza to immigrate to Europe. He tells us how it’s better to live outside of Gaza, and people in Gaza “don’t live.” Of course it’s difficult to build a new life [in a new place], but there’s still a bigger chance to be a human [outside of Gaza].
The Palestinians who live outside of Gaza – you hear from their voices, from their eyes that they get what they want, and they are living much better lives than here in Gaza.
I am happy for them, that they can achieve their dreams, but I’m also angry, since I would like to be in their place.
I haven’t been able to communicate much with Israelis. I don’t have the desire to do so, because I think they don’t live like us. Their lives are much better and much more human. They can travel anywhere. They can get better educations.
I’d rather not know about their lives or see how they live.
When I have bad moments, and when I feel weak, I cannot deal with anything, and I feel like cancelling everything – my exams or future plans, and to give up immediately.
[Fortunately] my family and friends encourage me when I feel like this, and that’s a good thing. They tell me not to give up, and that I can do it.
The Palestinian community in Gaza is full of very close families—we’re like one unit. Personally, I think the emotional connection makes us more united, and because we can’t go anywhere or travel.
Every time I write something [for We Are Not Numbers], I feel that I do something for my community and my society.
I think that people who live outside [of Gaza], not all of them though, but most of them think that Palestine or people who live in Palestine are just numbers. I think they don’t care about our cases or about people who die in every act of aggression that Israelis commit. They just rely on words that they hear and see on TV or in the media. They don’t do anything other than that.
It is important for the world to hear our voices. At We Are Not Numbers we write real human stories about what happens in Gaza, and that’s important. We are human beings, so our stories need to be told.
Interview conducted on March 19, 2017