Majed (8) in Gaza is Baking Bread for Survival

Eight-year-old Majed is calm and focused as he bakes bread in a makeshift tent in the south of the Gaza Strip. Despite growing up under blockade; repeatedly exposed to violence, nothing could have prepared him for this desperate existence.
Majed and his family were forced to flee south when their house was damaged by heavy bombardment.

Fleeing home

Majed and his family were forced to flee south when their house was damaged by heavy bombardment.

“I was terrified before we evacuated”, says Majed. “I’d sleep every night next to my mother. "When the house next door was hit, I woke up to the sound. It was very scary. We grabbed our bags and made a run for it.”

Hungry, cold and sick

After a perilous journey, winding their way through streams of people and burnt-out cars, Majed and his family of nine arrived at the shelter.

We observe him with a combination of disbelief and admiration as he goes about the task of baking bread. His brother becomes overwhelmed at moments, taking breaks to rest, but Majed spreads out the dough on the stove, calm and focused.

Even with the heat of the stove, the tent is bitterly cold. A breeze from outside sends an extra chill through the cracks in the tarpaulin.

Majed speaks as his nose drips - he caught the flu: “I shower in the tent with cold water. We use salty water, my mother pours it over me - it makes me tremble. I feel very sick, it’s cold here and we don’t have enough clothes to keep us warm. I also vomit due to lack of hygiene and dirty drinking water. The canned food doesn’t help - there’s nothing healthy in it.”

Majed and his family were forced to flee south when their house was damaged by heavy bombardment.

Majed and his family were forced to flee their house in Gaza was damaged by heavy bombardment.

A moment to play

Majed wakes up early every morning and goes to bed at sunset - so he is rested and can help out. On the rare occasion, he plays with other children at the shelter.

“We play one game here called ‘I saw you’ - similar to hide and seek”, he says. “One counts and the other hides.”

The game suits the location - a sprawling maze of tents that connect to each other. “There’s lots of good places to hide”, he says smiling. “But I wish I had a ball to play football outside.”

A fleeting sense of relief

Sadly, even if he did have a ball, the events of recent days leave little time for play.

As soon as the truce was announced, Majed and his family went back to check on their house.

“I went straight to my room to collect my toys”, he says. “But it was completely destroyed. The kitchen was full with rubble and dust and broken glass everywhere. Luckily, we were able to dig out some items to use in our tent.”

As soon as they returned to the shelter, his mother breathed a sigh of relief. “We don’t like it here but we feel safe”, she says.

Majed’s feelings are mixed. “I wanted more than anything to stay there”, he says. “It was a mess; it was frightening - but it was home.”

As the two-day extension of the truce reaches an end, thousands of children are fighting for survival in extreme conditions. War Child renews its call for a permanent ceasefire so that we can scale up our response and reach children like Majed with vital protection and psychosocial support.