“Gazans know that they are heroes; they don’t need another war to prove it,” says Tayseer Nazih Barakat. The Kuwaiti businessman, who spent his childhood in Gaza and is now a board member at the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, has just returned to the strip after Israel’s last offensive, Operation Protective Edge, to find the strongest symbols of life.
“There is now total destruction in Gaza, including the possibility of planting anything. But Palestinians don’t want to be seen as victims or heroes: they want to show their ability to compete with the world in building, exporting, art, sports and education. The fact that they are strong is there forever; now they want to show the world they can contribute to civilization,” he explains in an interview with BarakaBits.
“We visited orphans who lost their parents, but saw how people immediately take it upon themselves to pay for their school and take care of them. Wherever you go, dignity is the strongest element; but it is not something they defend, it is the way society works every day,” he says.
As he awaits for his flight back to Kuwait in crowded Cairo, he remembers the fresh graduates he met at the Islamic University and their twinkling smiles; the fishermen, the farmers, all expressing the same thought: “give me space and you will see what I can do”.