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Everyday Heroes: How Gaza Moms Get Through Air Strikes

All parents face some tough moments, but the award for everyday heroism has got to go those in Gaza who shelter their children through regular bombardment. We asked five brave Gazan moms to share their expertise on how they keep their cool and calm their kids under fire.

Heba Derawi, a mother of two in Gaza City: “I always soothe my children by telling them it’s the sounds of fireworks and not to feel afraid because fireworks are beautiful. Many times they see the photos of bombing on television and wonder: ‘Are these the fireworks, mom? Why do people cry because of them if they were beautiful?’

Hanan from Rafah, mother of two teens and three toddlers: “My oldest two kids understand what’s happening, and they try to encourage each other to be brave and laugh so the younger ones don’t get afraid. The littlest is a baby, so she doesn’t understand yet about all of this.”

Diana Al-Moghrabi, a mother of three in Gaza City: “When there is bombing, I try to make it easy for my three-year-old daughter by telling her that these are fireworks, which I showed her once at a festival. Often I tell her it’s the TV and that I am going to turn it off because the fireworks’ sounds scare her too.”

Hana Awad, with two kids in Gaza City: “I try to stay close to my husband and family because they give me and my kids the feeling of security. They always try to calm me and play with my kids to take them out of the atmosphere of destruction, although the sounds of bombing are sometimes stronger. Then I can only hug them and cry.”

Amal from central Gaza, mother of four: “When there is bombing, I put all my kids in one room without windows, and do whatever they like to do—playing, cooking whatever they like to eat, or watching cartoon movies on TV if there is electricity; then we turn up the sound so they can’t hear any of what’s happening outside. But after a few seconds of nearby bombing, my oldest, Ahmed, gets very scared because he’s old enough to understand that this is not fireworks or the neighbors cleaning the rug, which is how I try to fool my little kids.”

With reporting by Sofiya Mosalam, Yaser Murtaja and Rushdi Sarraj in Gaza.

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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