Letters from Gaza (2) …an Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

05 February 2008

I have to admit I’m addicted to apples. Ever since I discovered that eating an apple a day keeps you healthy and your teeth in good condition, I’ve been doing my best to develop this habit. Eating an apple had become the typical way in which I ended my day. Sometimes, I even found myself day-dreaming about the crunchy, juicy, green apple that was waiting for me at home.

The thing is when Hamas took over Gaza last June, the Strip came under siege. For months, the Sofa border - where traders had been permitted to bring in fruit, vegetables and other basic food commodities – was tightly closed. Fruit wasn’t allowed into Gaza…and I couldn’t practise my daily apple ritual. Even now with fruit again in the shops, the cost has quadrupled and my family - like many others in Gaza - simply can’t afford to buy it on a regular basis.

In these circumstances, how can I feed my addiction? How can I protect my teeth? The other day, while I was pondering my dilemma, I noticed my son Mustafa going into the kitchen, opening the refrigerator, having a good long look, closing the fridge door again and leaving the kitchen. I saw him do the same thing again and again. In the end, I decided to ask him what the matter was. "I can’t find anything to eat, mum. Do we have any fruit?" he asked.

As a mother I know that my children, like many others, dislike eating vegetables. As an alternative source of vitamins and minerals for their growing bodies, I had found fruit to be a good solution. Now with the cost of fruit having sky-rocketed, I can rarely afford to buy it and my children are forgetting what an apple or a banana tastes like.

 Najwa Sheikh

February 2008, Gaza

Najwa Sheikh Ahmed is a Palestine refugee, who lives in Nuseirat camp with her husband and three children. These are her personal stories.