Marking two years since the brutal Israeli assault that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, #GazaLives tells the stories of Palestinians from Gaza, in their own words.

On 20th July 2014, as many as 150 Palestinians were killed in Shuja’iyya after Israeli forces devastated the area.

Destruction in Gaza, 27 July
Photo: Iyad al Baba/Oxfam – Shuja’iyya, July 2014

My name is Wiaam. I am a young woman who lives in Shuja’iyya neighborhood in Gaza.

I attend the Islamic University and I have lived in this city for the entire 22 years of my life. I wish to be buried in this pure land.

I wish to talk to you about the suffering of the occupied Gaza Strip, especially in the field of education.

I lived the happiest years of my life in this neighborhood, as well as the worst imaginable moments during the last war.

We lived through a tough situation but did not lose our spirit.

Despite the fear in the hearts of our schoolchildren, as soon the assault was over, they resumed their education.

We are an unarmed people: education, and the power of justice are our weapons to liberate our land.

As a university student, I suffered enormously after the war. Unemployment soared and I could not afford to buy schoolbooks. I had to save on transportation and started walking half the way to college to save half of the cost for the following day.

Through this war, I developed an addiction to education.

I became protective of my university books. I kept them in a bag so that whenever we were forcibly displaced from our home, I could carry the bag on my back.

I am grateful I have not lost any books. Still, many of my friends lost books – and worse, family members who were killed in Israel’s attacks.

Nevertheless, my friends continued their education- but they need more support, such as scholarships.

My friends and I call the Gaza Strip “the education tsunami” because of the high number of educated people who cannot find jobs.

Unemployment rises, poverty spreads across Gaza, and average daily incomes drop.

As a student, I wish to pursue my education and learn more. But, under this situation, with the siege and lack of funds, I cannot.

I hope you continue to learn about the suffering of my people and to understand it.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author.

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