I am twelve years old and live in Rafah, the southernmost city of the Gaza Strip. Many homes in our refugee camp have been demolished. The doors and windows in my home are smashed because of the shelling and incursions.
Other children around the world have security and stability, but I am denied these rights. Because of the occupation, I am used to hearing the sound of gunfire. Every night I dream of the fire, destruction, shelling and fear. I can’t sleep at night anymore because I’m overwhelmed by fear. I sleep and awake to the sounds of airplanes and rumbling of tanks.
Every morning I go to school with my friend and usually we can’t complete the day because of the bombings. Sometimes I do not go to school because of military incursions in our refugee camp.
School now feels like a prison. I don’t feel safe there. Stray bullets and mortar shells have fallen in the school yard. After school, I play with my friends in the camp. We play with empty bullet casings, play Arab vs. Jew or make houses of sand and then demolish them.
In the middle of this darkness, the children’s parliament stretched its hand to us. When I sat down with the children in the parliament and talked with them, I found in them strength and hope in life. They had the powerful and wonderful ability to ask for our rights as children.
One day, I was going to the parliament and I saw some foreigners. A young American woman attracted my attention. Her name was Rachel Corrie. She talked to me about my fears and the problems of security we children and our nation face. I was surprised by the fact that Rachel was trying to comfort me.
As Rachel worked with the parliament, I understood that she wanted us to be able to have our voice heard in the outside world, particularly in America, to show how much we are suffering. She said she loved children and how she feels sad for them when they are killed. And from that time, we became good friends. I invited her to my house to meet my family and she came and had lunch with us. She became my closest friend - almost as close as my mother.
This love and attachment did not last long because the bulldozer was faster in bringing her death. And I was so sad and from then on I started to hate the American government but love the American people for the sake of my friend, my mother, Rachel. And from that day on, I always curse the American bulldozer that was driven by an Israeli. I always try to attack it by my tears and sadness. When will this world stop hating me and taking away the things I love?
The other day, my cousin, Mohammed, lost his life at the age of fourteen because of a crazy Israeli soldier who shot him from a tower near Salah El-Din Gate. He killed Mohammed’s dream of becoming a doctor. Mohammed was on his way to school. He was very good in school, everyone liked him. On the day that he was killed I was coming back from school and I didn’t find my parents or my brother at home. When I asked my older sister where the family was, she started to cry. She then told me that Mohammed had died. I felt that life hates me. I am looking for security and stability. I need that very much.
I remember the day I left my house to buy two plastic flowers to give to my first mother and my new mother - Rachel - on Mother’s Day which falls on March 21. But the Israeli bulldozer was faster than me and killed my American mother on March 16. The flower remains in my room reminding me of my mother and friend Rachel.
One day I hope to be a doctor to heal children. I hope that Americans are like Rachel, and I hope to become friends with American children in the future. I hope that one day I can live like all other children in the world in stability and security.
Yasmine Abu Libdeh is a 12-year-old student and member of the Rafah Children’s Parliament.