Tuesday, 1 November 2011


In the summer I visited Gaza, albeit only for a day. I had gone with lots of preconceptions, thinking that I would be entering a war-zone with destroyed buildings all around. There may very well be evidence of destruction, but not where we went in Gaza City. In fact, it just seemed like a normal, rather dilapidated town. What did strike me was that there were people everywhere, and Gaza is the most densely populated place on earth. Sadly it probably has the highest unemployment rate of anywhere on earth as well, as it has little industry. One person commented that most people are at university, because there is nothing else to do!

We had gone to visit several projects supported by Church of Scotland, including ante-natal clinics run by the Near East Council of Churches and a hospital run by the Anglican Church. The Christian population of Gaza is very small, so these institutions are very much run for the needs of those who are unconnected with the church.

Photo from http://www.atfaluna.net/

We finished our day, by visiting the Atfaluna School for Deaf Children, which is housed in a beautiful building paid for by German partners, and we were amazed by the high standard of all the furnishings and education materials. Because of the dire employment prospects in Gaza, especially for those who have a disability, Atfaluna employ former pupils to make furniture, carpets and crafts, which are then sold (including, I believe, in the Hadeel shop in Edinburgh).

All in all, it was an interesting visit, not least to be made aware of the sufferings of those living in Gaza with the regular disruption of electricity and food supplies, all of which are delivered through Israel.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Colin
    Nice to see your blog up again. I trust that you got a warm welcome back to your duties in Israel.
    While your figures on unemployment in Gaza are interesting, they do bear comparison with other stressful regions:
    Zimbabwe 97%, Turkmenistan 70%, Tajikistan 60% and Mozambique 60%, all more than or nearly double unemployment rates than Gaza's (undoubtably serious) 37%.
    According to reliable OECD statistics, Gaza City doesn't figure in the top 50 overcrowded cities in the world.