My Colleague – Messages from Gaza Now – October 2023 – April 2024

9 April 2024

My Colleague

There are very few vehicles working in Gaza as taxis. To get around there are some buses, a few cars, and many trucks carrying people from place to place.

I had to go to West Rafah to conduct some interviews with new candidates for the counselling work at the projects that I manage at the MAAN Development Center. There are two other colleagues who must be with me as the recruitment committee. They should be arriving from West Khan Younis, only 10km from Rafah.

From Rafah town to West Rafah (7 km) it took me an hour and a half to arrive, half of the way walking, as there was almost no transportation. The candidates, who are mostly displaced in Rafah, had arrived. We were supposed to start at 9:30, but none of my colleagues had arrived, and it is now 10:30 and still no one has arrived, and I couldn’t reach any of them over the mobile. I called the executive manager of MAAN to consult him on the situation, and he said we can’t run the interviews without a committee of 3 people. He is right. I am a manager, but there is also a technical person (a counsellor supervisor) and an HR representative. So, we had to postpone the interviews for another day. I apologised to the candidates. It was not easy, they had made great efforts to arrive. I spent some time with them assuring them that they did not lose their chance to be recruited.

At 10:50, one of my colleagues arrived. She is a program manager, responsible for several projects and with many staff under her supervision. She looks very tired. She started to apologise, explaining how it was almost impossible to find a taxi and how she had to walk for an hour and a half until arriving here. Suddenly, while talking, she started crying, she cried hard. I held her hand, trying to calm her down. She continued crying and talking:

“It is too much! I can’t handle it anymore! I leave my little children crying every day, it is too much! Look at my hands!” 

Her hands had burns all over them. 

“I had to prepare the bread and the food on a fire, which I am not used to doing. I don’t know how to do it properly! My husband is helping. It is enough, we are not used to it! He carries water from 1 km distance, we had to leave our children with my mother-in-law. But she is sick, she can’t take care of them. l am tired, I need a break!

There is no internet at our place. I come here 3 days a week and each time I find hundreds of emails that I must answer! My staff are complaining, they don’t find time to rest, they told me that they reach home and sleep like donkeys! It is too much!”

She kept talking and crying, and I started to have tears in my eyes holding her hand.

She sat on the chair, took few minutes to control herself. I gave her some tissues.

She looked at me and said, “Thanks.”

I tried to hide my tears and left.