Thanksgiving in Gaza Print
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 28 November 2007 14:02
John Harry Gunkel, a retired American doctor is living in Jerusalem as a medical volunteer and shares his experiences on his blog: Mission to Jerusalem.

For those of us who have spent time in the area, it can't help but bring back memories.
But John's description of his visit to Gaza on the day before Thanksgiving is gripping and visceral:

Then yesterday, I visited Gaza. Only one day there and it's hard to know how to say it all. This blog will unpack the experiences in coming posts. But what should I say to you now? Should I tell you about the pervasive destruction and damage to virtually every structure? About the visible despair in people? About the children with observable evidence of malnutrition? About the current restrictions that allow no fruit but bananas to enter the area? About the previous restriction that allowed no milk in for several weeks? About the proscription of 80 medicines that are not allowed to enter the area? About the rubbish everywhere, some of it burning, some of it partially burned? About the resulting smell? About the family we visited who live in a cemetery? Live there. About the patients who lie in hospital and die because the necessary medication or surgery is not available and there is no possibility of leaving to go where they can get it? None. About the "security" measures on entering and leaving that may or may not provide security but that cannot fail to dehumanize, anger, and frustrate? About the man who said, "Dreams are forbidden in Gaza"? About the many people who told me that living in Gaza is living in prison?

What is there to say about a place of such suffering and uncertainty? Where is the promise in Gaza?

In a situation so complicated and so overlaid with conflict upon conflict, it's hard to know where to look for promise. But as I spent the day listening and learning, it seemed to me that the promise begins in the people there who still - somehow, incomprehensibly - laugh easily and share their tea, their stories, and their hospitality. Who ask for little except fairness and some compassion. Who want to be allowed to work, take care of themselves and their families, and have food to eat.