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Photo: Iyad Al Baba/Oxfam
10-year-old Nesma Al Wadiya used to enjoy going to school. But now her school is no longer just a place of learning and seeing her friends – it’s a constant reminder that her home is gone.
Each night she sleeps in a classroom – her family’s only shelter as their house was completely destroyed during the 50 days of war. Six weeks after the ceasefire, more than 100,000 people in Gaza remain homeless and hundreds of thousands more have no running water. Children like Nesma still shelter in crowded school buildings where Oxfam and partners are delivering clean water.
“My whole life is about schools now,” Nesma says sadly. “I don’t like going to school anymore. It makes me think of bad memories. Now we don’t have a house and I am fed up of seeing classrooms and blackboards all day and night.”
More than 200 schools were damaged or destroyed by bombing, and dozens more turned into makeshift shelters. Despite the difficulties, the school year resumed this month. Nesma’s mother, Sahar, knows it may be a long time before her family can go home, but she decided to send her daughter back to her old school rather than find a new one closer to their shelter: “It’s already overwhelming for Nesma to lose her house. I wanted her to study in the school that she knows, with her friends and the teachers that she knows.”