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Children love to learn. If they are denied access to knowledge, we also deny them the opportunity to change their lives for the better.

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Story by Suha Nasser a beneficiary of EAA Foundation’s Al Fakhoora Scholarship Program

I’m writing this from a hospital bed in Gaza.

It’s been almost two months since my husband and son were killed during an Israeli airstrike – and I almost died myself.

I met my husband Mohammed while at university in 2018 where I was studying physiotherapy enrolled in the Education Above All Foundation's Al Fakhoora Scholarship Program.

I was immediately attracted to his self-confidence. On top of that, he was kind, loving, and supportive – and always joking around.

Mohammed Ali, Suha's husband.

We got married on 30 September 2019 and I couldn’t have been happier, but what followed was our long struggle to start a family.

This culminated in Mohammed and I travelling to Egypt in May last year – originally for a summer holiday, but then we found that the cost of fertility treatment in Cairo was much lower.

We spent four months in total there, with the last month undergoing the embryo transfer. I was very excited because our goal of having a family felt very real – especially when we learned that the procedure was successful.

Two weeks after the embryo transfer, we had to make the risky journey back across the border to Gaza, which took two full days due to a difficult land journey across often dangerous checkpoints. I was exhausted and feared for my unborn child.

Then I started to bleed. Once back home, I went to the doctor, who advised me to stay on my back for at least two weeks to stop the bleeding and ensure the continuation of the pregnancy.

Thankfully, everything was back on track but in the final months of pregnancy, I faced placenta previa (a condition in which the placenta partially or wholly blocks the uterus), which forced me again into bed rest until I gave birth.

It was a tough period where I couldn’t take care of myself, relying on my mom and my husband.

Thank God, all went well, and Ahmed came into the world via a caesarean section and after four years of longing.

Despite the troubles and challenges I faced after the C-section – which lasted for three months – the arrival of my beloved son, the joy of my heart, and the support of my dear husband made me stronger.

A month after giving birth, I returned to my job as a physiotherapist at Al-Rantisi Hospital. Mohammed took care of Ahmed during my seven-hour work shifts. He also stayed up with our son to let me sleep until I woke up the next day for work.

I took pictures of Ahmed every day and watched him grow up. I imagined him starting his first day of school, then envisioned him as a college student. I pictured him becoming a doctor or an engineer, a husband, and a father. I painted a beautiful future for my child in my imagination.

He was still less than six months old, but I had already bought him clothes that would last until he turned two or even more. I was very excited to see him wear them. I wanted him to grow up quickly and become my companion and friend.

Then the war broke out on 7 October and our lives were turned upside down. I was immediately engulfed in fear for the safety of my family, my siblings, and their own families.

This was compounded by the stress of being a new mother trying desperately to shield my son from the impact of the bombings and the upheaval in our once tranquil home now filled with noise and anxiety.

Within four days of the war starting, our home had become a refuge for over 60 people – including relatives of my husband. They sought safety with us because we all thought the Israeli army wouldn’t bomb our house in the Jabalia Refugee Camp.

This drastic change disrupted the normality of life, especially for my son. He had trouble sleeping through intense crying and constant anxiety. Calming and reassuring him was a challenge, made more difficult by the scarcity of proper nutrition needed for breastfeeding.

My personal ordeal escalated on the 12th day of the conflict, 19 October 2023. By that point, there were now 31 people sheltering in our house, as the rest decided to move south.

Some of us were in a room together, after I had fed Ahmed, kissed him, and put him to bed in another room. I don’t know why, but my husband left the room we were in to do something.

Seconds later, the house was bombed, and I immediately saw total darkness.

Seconds later, the house was bombed, and I immediately saw total darkness.

A few moments after that, men I did not know pulled me out from under the rubble. I screamed at them, begging them to save my son.

I couldn’t believe it – Ahmed was just there with me. When I put him to bed that day, I did not know it was the last kiss, the last embrace.

I was in intense pain, so I was taken to the Kamal Adwan Hospital, where I waited in bed all night hoping to receive news about where my husband and son were.

The next morning, my father and mother came with pale faces. As soon as I saw them, I knew that a calamity had befallen my life forever.

They told me that they had both died – my son was just five months and three weeks old at the time. I felt my world come crumbling down.

I’d also later learn that Israeli airstrikes hit my neighbourhood, demolishing approximately seven houses – including mine – and killing all but six of the 31 people sheltering in my house.

My injuries were a spinal fracture, broken ribs, and damaged thigh tendons, which was all incredibly agonising.

Inside the hospital, the conditions were dire. Injured people lay everywhere, many without access to treatment due to the acute shortage of medicines, which eventually completely ran out.

I’ve seen untreated amputations turn septic and infested with worms owing to inadequate medical facilities and a lack of sterilisation equipment.

I was scheduled for spinal stabilisation surgery, which would ease my back pain, but never got the chance due to the overwhelming number of cases.

Without this, I have a constant fear that the intense aching will persist, or the fractures might heal improperly without surgery, which could severely impact my ability to continue my career as a physiotherapist.

I’m in physical agony, but I’m emotionally ripped apart, having lost my son and husband. The only thing keeping me distracted is having to be constantly alert for the next airstrike.

After 34 days in the hospital, we were forced to evacuate to the European Hospital in the south of Gaza amidst ongoing bombardment and looming military presence. It was a harrowing escape from death yet again, wearing only the clothes on my back.

On my first night in the south, I had to sleep on the school floor. I couldn’t stop crying from both the emotional and physical toll of this journey, which led to severe backache. I’m still at the European Hospital today.

I feel lost and uncertain of my future.

Currently, I’m desperately trying to arrange for a transfer abroad to assess my condition and seek medical advice on whether surgery or rest is required. Yet, securing it seems nearly unattainable in these dire circumstances.

Almost two months on from the escalation of this war, I want people to try to put themselves in our shoes. Imagine what it’s like losing your husband, child, and countless other family members.

The most daunting fear for a mother is losing her children. That became my grim reality on 19 October. After a four-year wait, he came into our lives loaded with all the love, happiness, and beauty in the world, but that was stolen from me.

I am not alone in my grief.

The wider situation in Gaza right now is dire. We’ve witnessed the complete destruction of entire neighbourhoods, burying residents under the rubble. Families have vanished, wiped off civil records.

Pregnant women and new mothers face challenges accessing healthcare and lack essentials, like diapers, milk, and clothing.

The city’s infrastructure is in ruins. The cramped living conditions of displaced families in schools and hospitals – coupled with the severe shortage of clean drinking water – have led to the outbreak of diseases and epidemics.

Over half of the northern sector’s population has been uprooted, fleeing southwards, escaping the relentless, irrational bombardment.

Many people have lost their jobs, businesses, means of livelihood, and all possessions, rendering them homeless. Others suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease are deprived of necessary medical care and medication.

Of course, many people – like myself – have lost loved ones.

Mohammed, my husband, was everything to me – my companion, friend, supporter, and pillar. Even now that he’s gone, he will remain my beloved until the end of my life.

Ahmed will always be my first son, who came to brighten the darkness of my world with his beautiful smile. I still remember his beautiful laughter, his voice, and his eyes.

I want to enter the photos I have of him and hug him. Israel deprived me of my child and killed him seemingly without any guilt. I want to wake up from this nightmare.

Together with all the people in Gaza – especially women – I yearn for an end to these massacres. We need to be able to begin to heal our wounds.

This situation urgently calls for attention and support from humanitarian organisations, governments, and the global community.

We – like everyone else – deserve a dignified and secure existence.

The only fragments of my former life with my husband and son that I have left are through pictures on a phone. Our family was the happiest and complete in those five months and three weeks we were all together.

I don’t know how I’ll continue to go on from this, knowing there will never be days like those with them again.

This story has been featured in the Metro UK, MSN, and UK News.


"Humanity will not overcome the immense challenges we face unless we ensure that children get the quality education that equips them to play their part in the modern world." -- HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser


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