Despondency prevails among the people of Gaza. The only thing that helps are the words of the Pope and the support of prayers from around the world, as a young woman from the Focolare Movement recounts. She lives in the Gaza Strip and for safety reasons will remain anonymous.
R. “There is no respite to the conflict, we only sees death, destruction and refugees on the road. It seems so inconceivable, you can’t believe it. Near to us there’s a UN school for refugees, some seventy people live there in 50 square metres, taking cover under the trees. How can you find peace in this situation?
D. – How has your life changed since the conflict began?
R. –Sincerely, we’re already a bit dead. Before and after this war nothing has changed. There’s no electricity, water or work. The young are psychologically dying. You speak with them and it’s like talking to a seventy-year-old who has no more expectations or hope in life. The only ambition is to have at least a bit of electricity for a couple of hours a day and to find a bit of fuel.
D. –Until now both Hamas and Israel authorities have been saying that it cannot stop, that they must finish what has been begun. Do you also think so?
R. –We don’t have any expectations. All we have is prayer. We turn to God and entrust ourselves to Him, because there is no government that can help us, neither Arab nor foreign, not even the UN can do anything.
D. – Then how can this situation be changed?
R. –If things were to change it would only be because those with the power and responsibility had remembered that God sees everything they are doing. Only God can make the difference, only God can change the hearts that are full of hate, only God can change this reality of death and suffering.
D. – Is news getting to you about how the Pope is praying and making appeals for you? Does that news offer you some support?
R. –We’ve been receiving all the messages and appeals by the Pope. We know that he is near to us and asking God for our safety with the intercession of Mary. And then all the Christian communities around us call us every day so we don’t feel alone, and they support us with their prayers. All of this helps us.
D. – You belong to the Focolare Movement and therefore live a spirituality of unity that is built with mutual love, as the Gospel says. How do you put that into practice now?
R. –Every day, in the morning and evening, I try to make contact with my relatives and friends to know how they’re doing. So many of them no longer have houses, because they’ve been destroyed by the bombings and we’re putting up two refugee families in our home right now. Just yesterday I was saying to them: ‘don’t think about the house, about material things. The important thing is that we’re alive and together. The important thing is that we’re here for each other’. Then, every day I give praise to God for the grace of another day to live. This is already a lot: we still exist and can still get busy doing something for each other.
D. – If you could launch your own appeal, what would it be?
R. –I’d like to speak to the whole world on behalf of my people, asking that everyone would return to God and remember that Muslims and Christians are a single people in Gaza, a single life and we’re all undergoing the same suffering and pain. Thanks.”