Education is our only way to rebuild Gaza… a message from Nada

23 September 2022
Nada, 2022. UNRWA Photo by Hussien Jaber
My name is Nada, and I am a 15-year-old Palestine refugee from Gaza. I studied at UNRWA schools, and I am a member of the fourth UNRWA Agency-wide Student Parliament (ASP). The ASP comprises 22 students representing the voices of over half a million Palestine refugee girls and boys studying in more than 700 schools that UNRWA operates in the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
While children in other parts of the world spend their summer nights playing and watching movies, we, the children of Gaza, spent our summer nights this year in fear of conflict taking our lives, and the lives of our loved ones. We thought that tomorrow might not come. Now, calm prevails; we hope it will remain forever, but deep in our hearts we know it will not. It seems that it is the impossible dream of children in Gaza to live in peace.
As we were getting ready to go back to school this year and build our dreams, we were afraid.  We were afraid that another conflict will keep us away from school, that the violence will destroy our school, or worst, take away a friend. Over the past 10 years, 134 UNRWA schools in Gaza were damaged as result of armed conflict. In May last year, 19 UNRWA students were killed during hostilities in Gaza. No child deserves this. No child deserves to live in constant fear of losing their home, school, or their lives! 
Even when there’s no conflict, our education journey is never easy, from the ongoing power outages to the lack of clean water to the poor socioeconomic conditions of many families, all,  a consequence of the ongoing blockade. 
Our education is our only hope to change our future and make Gaza a better place. Some of us want to be teachers to educate the children of Gaza, doctors to heal their wounds, or engineers to build what was destroyed, but how can we achieve that if our education is in danger. I dream of traveling the world, learning many languages and writing a book about the cultures and customs of each country and my experience there. Through the book I will tell the people of Gaza about the world they cannot see, and I will tell the world about the Gaza they should see, but will I ever be able to travel freely? 
On International Day of Peace, I ask you to stand with the right of the children of Gaza to live in peace, to feel safe. I ask you to stand with us and support our right to education. Education is a precious treasure for us and the basic building block we need to achieve our dreams and rebuild Gaza.