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The Struggle To Stay In College

Rafah, Gaza Strip- Despite all the calamities that hit them during the recent war on Gaza, Muhammad and his father pushed through. Their journey to keep Muhammad in college is one where the first steps were simply the challenge to survive.
Muhamamd al Ghoti (21) is one of the many people whose homes were totally destroyed in the recent war. With the bitter taste of grief in his mouth, but with a pinch of hope, Muhammad tried to remember what happened to them. “Gaza was fully destroyed under the watch of the whole world; only small pieces were spared,” he said. “We were sitting at home with some relatives who sought refuge at our place from the heavy shelling near theirs. My father went out and then we heard him screaming… hurry up… get out of the house… they are bombing it… We ran out abruptly leaving everything behind except for the clothes we were wearing and our ID cards. The house was then hit. We sought refuge at my aunt’s house.”
“The next morning we went to check in on the house, and it was totally gone,” Muhammad continued. “We tried to salvage anything that might help us in the days to come. We were homeless and scattered, each in a different shelter. After a while, we managed to move in with some relatives, and we were living in a place that could barely fit us as a family when we used to own a home that could host us and others as well.”
Muhammad’s father, Na’eem, also found himself with new challenges. He had to provide for his family. “We were like most people in Gaza,” Muhammad said. “Things were tough. My father wanted to get a driving license to support us by working as a taxi driver. We didn’t have the money to even pay for the license. So he worked temporary jobs here and there, and with the help from friends and family, he was able to [gather the money]. Now he is looking for a car to work on.”
Both Muhammad and his sister remained ambitious students despite everything. “I want to finish school. I want to become a nurse and heal the wounds of our people. I want to rebuild our home nicer than before. My studies are going really well, and my younger sister, who is in high school, is also doing great. She studies consistently despite what we are going through, and she wants to excel in her final exams. All of us here in this tiny place are working hard to do better.”
Money, especially for tuition, is still a problem. Muhammad had to take student loans to cover the high tuition costs, but he is quite sure that he can pay them back despite everything. “Hopefully, I will excel in my studies, work, and pay back my loans.”

By Yasin Adel Khader (14 December 2014)