Voices from Gaza: Echoes of Hope - Aya's Journey Through War


"In the southwest of Gaza City, amidst the chaos, hope becomes a skill, and survival is a testament to the strength within us all."

Aya, a 22-year-old, is thrust into the treacherous path of life alongside her family in the relentless conflict between Israel and Hamas. When Israeli soldiers ordered citizens to head south, uncertainty gripped Aya's family. Was Al Mughraqa already south enough, or did they need to venture further? "Our biggest wish now is just to remain alive," Aya confided. The haunting images in her cousins' eyes mirrored the horrors witnessed during their journey.

Aya-Photo credit UN Women- Samar Abu Elouf
Aya-Photo credit UN Women- Samar Abu Elouf

As the war unfolded, 20 members of her family, initially in the north, sought refuge in Aya's home. Their journey exposed them to the brutality of bombings and the harsh reality of innocent lives lost. Cut off from all communication channels, Aya’s family agonized over the well-being of extended family, neighbors, and friends.

"We lack everything," Aya lamented, emphasizing their relative fortune in having access to some water. She recounted stories of friends surviving on meager rations, highlighting the dire situation in Jabalia where citizens resorted to consuming raw chickpeas.

The sounds of children's screams from a nearby school underscored the daily struggles. Aya described the makeshift shelter, once a school, as a place lacking in essentials—food, water, and healthcare.

"They bombed my uncle's house," Aya revealed, recounting the devastation in the neighborhood and the miraculous survival of her brother, Sohaib, albeit emotionally scarred. The blackout left the family frantically searching for him, uncertain of his fate until his eventual return home.

Amidst the chaos, Aya's 9-year-old sister, Jana, symbolically rebelled, cutting her hair after an altercation with her brother. Aya expressed concern for the children, fearing the war's impact on their innocence, noting signs of increasing aggression.

"I'm wondering how I will die," Aya confessed, mourning the loss of once vibrant streets and cafes now reduced to rubble. In her eyes, despair loomed, and the question of what remained to live for echoed through her words.

Aya's memories harked back to childhood defined by wars. At the age of 7 in 2008, tanks near their house became a haunting image, and she vividly recalled closing her brother's eyes in front of lifeless bodies. "I am a survivor, but till when?" she questioned, reflecting on the 2019 escalation during her final high school exams.

"Hope is a skill," Aya asserted. At 22, she has borne witness to the devastating impact of four brutal wars and three escalations since 2008. In a region where 2.3 million people are left with nothing but hope.