GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM – Ramadan, the fasting month of Muslims, is markedly different this year 2021 in Gaza, compared to previous years. Palestinian Muslims of Gaza know that they will be fasting amid the stifling conditions imposed on them by two terrible “powers”. One of them is the 15 year-long blockade by air, land and sea, imposed by the Israeli occupation forces; the second one is the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Gaza within the besieged enclave.
While Gaza is about to welcome the month of Ramadan, Palestinian Muslims are aware that they will not be able to spend it with as much enthusiasm, happiness and spirituality as the Ramadan of previous years, before the spread of coronavirus into the enclave. They feel frustrated because they are more restricted than before; they cannot even visit relatives, nor hold collective Iftar (evening meal for breaking the daily fast). .
In addition to the above, the Authority in Gaza has, on Saturday, imposed night curfews starting at 9 pm (6pm GMT) to limit transmission of the virus. It has also imposed new restrictions on gatherings as from next Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Ramadan 2021; all gatherings within the besieged enclave, including funerals and weddings, will be prevented; schools, universities and kindergartens will be closed until further notice – with the exception of secondary schools and nurseries. Also, prayers can be performed in the courtyards of mosques, but not inside mosques, provided that worshippers wear their masks, respect social distancing and practice proper hygiene.
Despite all the deadly challenges that the Palestinians of Gaza face, they refuse to succumb to despair and sadness..
Sami Fouad, a 31-year-old Palestinian father of three, lives in Nuseirat camp in the central Gaza Strip. He works as a volunteer to serve his people and bring joy to them..
Sami says: “Every year I wait for Ramadan with the enthusiasm of a kid. So I started thinking about something that could bring happiness to my countrymen. I understand their concerns and fears because I have been working in the field of counseling and psychological entertainment for orphan children for many years; this made me feel close to them, and I worked to make them achieve their aspirations as much as I could”.
“He continued that Recently, he got an idea to be implemented at the beginning of the month of Ramadan. So he converted his living room into a workshop to design decorations, mainly lanterns, for children, for the month of Ramadan “.
“”The Palestinians here in Gaza try hard to welcome the Holy month of Ramadan every year, as well as we can, despite our extremely difficult circumstances. My initiative this year is to manufacture lanterns and distribute them to children, on this occasion” he explained”.
“”The prices of Ramadan lanterns are very high, and most Palestinians of Gaza cannot afford to buy them. Therefore, I have decided to make the lanterns using funding from a Palestinian charity. I will use only cheap and simple materials such as colored papers, beads and some plastic decorations. I will then distribute these to children, free of charge, to make their hearts happy in Ramadan””.
“Another idea behind the making of the simple lanterns is to encourage the children to play indoors with the lanterns, amid the risks of the coronavirus. And what motivates me to implement my project of Ramadan lantern creation is the smile and happiness that I hope to bring to the hearts of these children when I will give them the lanterns. I will try to make the maximum number of lanterns for a maximum number of children”.
“In order to expand this initiative, I am also teaching children, virtually via social media platforms, to make the lanterns with simple equipment and supplies that are available in their homes. In this way, they can make use of their time in constructive and beneficial ways”.
Sami concluded his speech by saying: “We hope to enjoy fasting this month to the fullest, and to not let the virus ruin our joys and enthusiasm as much as we can”.