"I am just a child, I know nothing about politics.". Hatem's story

25 August 2019
 "I am just a child, I know nothing about politics.". Hatem's story

When you have lived through three armed conflicts,
When soldiers have raided your home, leaving you frightened and confused,
When you have walked through broken glass in your bombed-out elementary school,

When you live under occupation and blockade,

Schools become a place of safety and of learning; a place where a child can grow and dream; a place where a child can breathe.

Hatem Hamdouna is only 15 years old, yet he has lived through three armed conflicts at four, eight and ten years old. The scenes of destruction still haunt him during his sleep.  

Despite the destruction and violence all around him, Hatem is proud of where he comes from and draws strength from the adversity of his surroundings.

"When people think about Gaza, they think of the negatives things; a society that is constantly under pressure, with lack of freedom, without water or electricity," reflected Hatem.

Minaret photo: Two young boys walk under a collapsed minaret in destroyed Gaza. © 2014 UNRWA Photo by Shareef Sarhan

"I want people to know that Gaza is more than that. And that children like me don't want to be seen as victims. While I did not choose to live under conflict and blockade, I did chose to study hard every day and become a young leader.  

Throughout his young life he has turned to UNRWA schools for a sense of safety and hope. A leader among his peers, he uses his platform to speak about the right of education for all children.

 

Hatem Hamdouna (right), 15, advocating for Palestine refugee students at the United Nations in New York, 2019. © 2019 UNRWA Photo
Hatem Hamdouna (right), 15, advocating for Palestine refugee students at the United Nations in New York, 2019. © 2019 UNRWA Photo

"UNRWA education has taught me about my responsibilities toward our world. It helped me become a better person," stated Hatem speaking at the United Nations. “UNRWA education is like oxygen, it keeps us alive.”

Hatem's biggest fear is that the world will forget about Gaza and he will continue to live in isolation.

When you have lived through three armed conflicts, When soldiers have raided your home, leaving you frightened and confused,