A letter from Cairo

8 April 2024

Last month, we asked our supporters to help the family of one of our service users, Dr Hashem Salim, a Palestinian living in the UK. Your support led to us helping ten members of Hashem’s family to leave Gaza and enter Egypt. Here below is a letter from Hashem’s mother, to everyone who supported the family, shortly after she arrived in Cairo.

April 8th 2024
Cairo, Egypt

Dear Reader,

I am writing this in our first hours in Cairo after we were forced to leave our dreams and our home in Gaza behind in the form of burnt rubble.

The past six months have been difficult. So much that I do not have the words to describe it. Perhaps the human race has not gone so far in its literary imagination to come up with words to fully express the oppression, fear, and humiliation that the people of Gaza are suffering.

We don’t watch the news here; we don’t want to hear anything about the war. 

On the night before we left the Gaza Strip, I watched the children sleeping around me after eating a meal that was barely enough to keep them alive. They were suffering from fear as well as hunger. I could hear the sighs of my father, an elderly man whose back was in a great deal of pain because of the hardness of the ground he was lying on.

My brothers were sitting outside on the side of the road, waiting for the women and children to sleep for long enough so they could sleep in our place for a few hours in the morning. Then the Egyptian list arrived, and I received news that my name and my daughter’s name had been included, and that we must be at the Rafah crossing before seven o’clock in the morning.

I ran to the window and called my brothers to tell them the good news. They were happy, and by the light of a single candle, they helped me prepare my belongings for the other side. But I could not find anything to put them in. All our things were left under the rubble of our home in Khan Yunis.

My family's joy was sincere, and I could feel it. I also knew that their suffering had not yet ended. I felt as if I was betraying them by leaving the Gaza Strip, especially when they insisted that we take their food and water for the long journey across a short crossing. Our next day would be in a place with a bathroom, electricity, water, and a bed, while they would plead for life to give them an extra day to add to the record of their suffering.

We left early in the morning and took a path between destroyed houses under non-stop artillery shelling in the supposedly safe area of the Gaza Strip until we reached the Rafah crossing. The crossing was only 500 meters wide, which took more than 10 hours. We finally reached the other side of the open prison that is Gaza to secure our right to life. 

It isn't easy to describe how I felt, as I can still not fully comprehend what we have been through and where we are now.

One thing that I did realise when I crossed to the other side was that the bombardment could be seen and heard from the Egyptian side. I suddenly realised their silence towards our plight was not because of a lack of evidence of injustice. But mercifully, we found you who sympathised with our cause and our stolen rights beyond the oceans.

Perhaps we will never return to the same place in which I was born and grew up forever, and maybe we are now living the same tragedy that my parents lived through in 1948 without knowing it. 

In 20 days, it will be my 51st birthday. I have to learn how to rebuild our lives and our homes from scratch at an advanced age while accepting the idea that we may have our hearts broken again over everything we might build.

For now, dear reader, words are not enough to express how sincerely grateful we are to you, my brothers and sisters in humanity, for quite literally saving our lives.


(To donate to the Eman Appeal, visit this page)

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