New Home for Gaza Family that Lost 5 Daughters
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When the war escalated all across the Gaza Strip on Saturday, December 27, 2008, Sameera Balusha and her nine children were at her parents’ house for a family visit.
Despite the risks, she decided to take her children home and be with her husband, figuring that her family might be safer there since their house was next door to a mosque.
The 540 square feet (50 sq m) dwelling that the Balushas called home was small by most standards. It stood in Block 4 of the Jabaliya Refugee Camp, which is one of the poorest areas in Gaza.
It was around 10 pm on the 2nd day of the war Sameera and her husband, Anwar, decided that it was time for everyone to go to bed.
Their 12 day-old newborn daughter, and their one year old son would sleep with them in their room, and their seven other daughters, ranging from ages 7 to 17, would sleep in the next room.
The parents were hoping that their children would get a good night’s rest, but the girls were praying that the electricity would come back on so that they could study for school.
They all felt safe and comfortable enough to fall asleep, but the family’s false sense of security was devastated by a massive blast that hit the mosque next door.
The screams of the two babies jolted Sameera and Anwar from their sleep. There was dust and debris everywhere. Mohammad, the one year old, was injured in the head, while Bara’ the infant was hurled to the floor.
After regaining his senses, Anwar managed to carry little Bara’ out of the house, while Sameera took Mohammad into her arms and ferried him outside to a paramedic who had instantly arrived.
She ran back into the house and into the bedroom where her seven other daughters had been sleeping. All she could see was a pile of concrete blocks from a collapsed wall covering her daughters. She froze for a moment and then franticly ran outside screaming, “there are seven girls in the bedroom, please get them out.”
Rescuers heard the cries of Iman, who was trapped underneath the rubble. The workers were able to free her, as well as her sister Samah and take them to the hospital. It was too late, however, for their other five sisters to be saved.
Badly injured and barely able to walk, Anwar entered the ruins of his home with the help of a friend. He made his way into his daughters’ room, which had a frame that hung from the wall. Inside the frame was a verse from the Holy Qur’an that read: “Say: ‘Nothing will befall us except what Allah has decreed for us.'” (9.51)
«قل لن يصيبنا إلا ما كتب الله لنا».
As he stood there, he thought of his oldest daughter Tahreer, and how talented she was in school. Anwar, a poor and unemployed laborer, could not understand how such a tragedy could happen to his family in one night.
When the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates heard this extraordinary story, they contacted their partners at LIFE for Relief and Development to see if there was a way to provide the Balusha family with a new home.
LIFE had worked from day one of the war to provide emergency relief to families, hospitals, and clinics across Gaza, and was willing to join this effort.
There were many hurdles to overcome before LIFE could move the Balushas into a new home. The blockade of Gaza made it impossible to import building materials that could be used for the construction of a house. Purchasing an existing home had its own challenges as well, but the LIFE staff worked diligently to ensure that all logistical, legal, and financial issues would be resolved.
Eventually, a home in the Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza was purchased and given to the family. LIFE and the UAE Red Crescent hope that with this new home, the Balusha family will be able to move on with their lives and secure a better future for their remaining four children.