Resilient Gaza impresses Rugby aid worker - The Rugby Observer

Resilient Gaza impresses Rugby aid worker

Rugby Editorial 29th Aug, 2014 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016   0

THE RESILIENCE of the people of Gaza is amazing – that is the verdict of a Rugby man whose charity work took him to the war-torn region last week.

Alex Bush, Head of Operations for HelpAge International, was in Gaza to give healthcare, psychological support and shelter to older generations.

And the 54-year-old Benn Street resident came home full of admiration for the people of Gaza.

“I’m just amazed by the resilience of people there.” he said.

“Some of the older people we work with have lived through this a number of times. As you can imagine, it’s hugely stressful for people, but they’re dealing with it.

“The staff we’ve got out there, who’ve also lived through it themselves, are just fantastic. They’ve been out and about in every peaceful moment, delivering goods and talking to some of the older people there who somehow manage to keep a smile on their faces.”

He said that his group’s focus is the approximate 110,000 older people in Gaza who, he says, tend to get ignored in such emergencies – often lacking basic prescription medicines that would normally be available at a chemist.

He said: “There’s something like half a million people displaced, and they’re either living in the UN schools or they’ve found a place to rent in a relatively safe area, or they’ve moved in with other family members.

“We saw a family of 11 who had rented a store room in Gaza City. There was a grandma in a wheelchair, five kids, and five other adults. It’s just phenomenal what people have worked their way through.”

He added that the relatively modern and developed area would not meet most people’s common image of a disaster zone.

“There are some very modern areas of Gaza. Other areas have much poorer housing, but it’s properly built housing, concrete apartment blocks.

“You can normally buy most things in Gaza if you’ve got the money. It’s been the subject of a blockade for a number of years, so some goods are difficult to procure, but the markets do work and it’s a thriving economy in Gaza.”

He said he was encouraged by the aid being provided by governments and agencies, and urged people not to be put off donating.

He said: “There are nearly two million people in Gaza, and whatever you think of the politics that are going on out there at the moment, a quarter of those people have lost their homes.

“People who are concerned about giving to appeals should be reassured that the agencies out there are channelling their money very carefully, to make sure that the people who need it are getting it.”

Age International, the UK affiliate of HelpAge, is the only UK charity focusing on older people’s needs in developing countries.

Visit to find out more about Age International’s work in Gaza and/or to donate.

Hadija (in wheelchair) is from the heavily-bombed Shejayia area. Her family of 11 moved into town during the war and rented this store room in Gaza City. She has lost one leg and has kidney failure, hypertension and diabetes. The family has not felt safe to return and know that their house is heavily damaged.

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