For 11-year-old Waed Yasin, a Palestine refugee from the Gaza Strip, life has never been simple. Waed has witnessed three wars in the past seven years and knows that every portion of food or item of clothing must be shared evenly between her and her nine siblings.
When it comes to school, Waed knows she cannot expect her family to provide the necessary school books or stationery. The worsening economic situation in Gaza means the young student cannot remember when her father last had paid employment.
In August last year, Waed’s life was thrown upside down when her family’s simple home was destroyed during the 50-days of hostilities. Today, the family relies on UNRWA to meet all food, health and education needs, and has been forced to live with their grandmother in an over-crowded house.
But while Waed confronts hardships on a daily basis, she remains thankful for the opportunities she has. With her wooden school desk at Asma Elem Co-Ed school in Gaza City piled high with shiny new notepads delivered by the UNRWA Department of Education as part of its annual stationery assistance, the eager student said she was looking forward to working hard at school this semester.
“Receiving stationery is very important for me. Because my father has no income, we could not buy school stationery, so I was obliged to use used writing pads from last semester before I got the UNRWA stationery,” she said.
Approximately 240,000 Palestine refugee students attending UNRWA schools across the Gaza Strip have received start-of-semester stationery kits that include eight Arabic writing pads, two English writing pads and one drawing pad. All schools were also equipped with new cleaning material, some furniture and office supplies to maximize learning opportunities.
Ensuring that refugee children in Gaza have access to quality schooling and education remain key priorities for UNRWA as part of its wider commitment to helping refugees achieve their full potential in human development.
Zahra Abu Olba, Waed’s school principal, said most of her students are from poor families and without the UNRWA stationery donation, most would have gone without. “Parents kept asking for stationery as they cannot afford to buy any,” said Zahra.
Like many children attending UNRWA schools in Gaza, Waed has big dreams for her future and already realizes that education will play a key part in helping her achieve them. "I wish we could all live in peace. I want to study hard and become a doctor in the future to treat patients and the poor,” she said.