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Iman Abd al-Karim

From Gaza with love

Mona el-Farra says her book is 'from the heart amid the event'

Date of publication: 8 March, 2015

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International Women's Day: Mona al-Farra was named "the mother of the poor children of Gaza" for her tireless work for the Red Cross and for her book on her experiences in the besieged territory.

Mona al-Farra, who runs the English blog, From Gaza with Love, never remained captive to her privilege. 

She would wander around in the alleys of the refugee camps to put a smile on children's faces. She started to write her impressions and ideas about the suffering of the Gazans caused by the Israeli siege.

She told tales of their worries and suffering and monitored their daily life. She says: "My blog is humanitarian. I write about women, mothers and doctors under occupation."

     



She began her blog while working in al-Aouda hospital during the Second Intifada.

"I was advised by activists in solidarity with the Palestinian people to collect all what I had written on my blog in a book titled 'From Gaza with Love'," she said.


The book resonated with readers in Europe, the US and Australia. She describes the book as "from the heart amid the event", and captured a moment in time so vividly that it was used in some universities as an instrument to convey the suffering of the Palestinians and the narrative of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.


Farra is mostly concerned with women and children. She says: "Children's rights are always violated. They suffer because they feel insecure and because of the loss of good housing and food. Hence my interest in children."

Farra works with the Red Cross, providing healthcare and social support.

"I contributed to the development of the X-ray department of the Red Cross, thus helping many patients, especially as the Red Cross offers medical services at reasonable prices."

She tries to assist newly graduated doctors in order to support the Palestinian medical body. The Gaza Strip lacks medical specialties such as neurological surgery, X-ray, emergencies and orthopedics. In her view, "medicine is not just medical equipment and drugs. The human element is the basis. This is what we miss in Gaza."

Farra and her colleague doctors met many difficulties in their efforts to get scholarships to travel abroad. At the same time, she says, "none of us was able to travel, because of the Israeli occupation restrictions. We were not allowed to travel through the Erez [Beit Hanoun] crossing.

"The siege prevents the Gazans from travelling, except in some cases. For example, the occupation deprives children from medical treatment if the mother or the father is blacklisted by Israel."

     Of course, I felt that I could die at any moment.
Mona el-Farra


She also worked with the Middle East Children's Alliance. She took part in constructing desalination stations in the schools of the UN refugee agency UNRWA and nurseries, in addition to supporting hospitals and medical institutions with medicines. She worked also in Children's psychological support programmess, in particular in the aftermath of the latest Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip.

Farra lives with her three children. She says: "During the latest Israeli aggression, they were abroad. It was not easy. I would work with the Red Cross and my daughter would call and talk to me for some 10 minutes to make sure I was okay. Of course, I felt that I could die at any moment".

She graduated from the medical college at the Ain Shams University in Egypt, and chose to specialise in dermatology. At the time, she was the only Gazan doctor to select this specialty. She worked with a number of health centres of the health action committees of the Palestinian ministry of health before working full time at the dermatological clinic of the Red Cross.

She had contributed to the establishment of a number of health and cultural centres, the most prominent of which is the al-Aouda Hospital, in addition to centres that care for the heath of women and children, like the "al-Assriya" and the "Rachel Corrie Cultural" centres.

She believes that health is an ongoing development process, noting the significance of developing the Palestinian health cadres with the aim of providing the best health service for the citizens.

See our full coverage of International Women's Day here



She has become used to work despite the meagre resources and the acute shortage in the infrastructure with the aim of making the existence of women and children better.

The Gazans named her "the mother of the poor children of Gaza" in 2013, and she was selected one of the five most influential Palestinian women.

Away from her humanitarian activities, her hobbies include reading and writing, walking, music and travel.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.

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