In 2021 and 2022, the War Childhood Museum worked with a researcher based in Gaza to document the experiences of children and youth. Here are fourteen stories and objects from our collection that provide insight into children’s experiences and daily lives under the blockade.

My Artistic Journey

In 2014, the war in the Gaza Strip lasted for 50 days. Our home was no longer safe, so my family and I moved to a relative’s house. I was eight years old at the time and I felt very scared. To distract me from what was happening outside, my mother would bring me colouring pencils and encourage me to draw. 

At first, scenes of war and the terrible things we witnessed were all that I drew. But as time went by I began to draw beautiful things, like flowers and children playing at the park. Drawing helped me to forget about fear. This is one of the first drawings I made and it represents the start of my artistic journey. Since then, I have entered several drawing competitions at my prep school. I hope I will be able to develop my drawing skills further and become a painter one day.

Aisha, 2006

A Dress for Eid

On the first day of Eid in 2014, I got up at 7 o’clock. It was the day that I long anticipated because I was about to put on my special Eid dress. Just three hours later, I heard the sounds of an explosion coming from outside. My parents and my siblings ran to the windows to see what was happening. There was a lot of smoke in the skies. Gaza was being bombed even though they announced a truce. It was Eid but there was no celebration.

I took off my dress and I never wore it again. I spent a lot of time trying to get rid of the feeling that Eid is a bloody day.

This is a dress that was given to me by a family member. The dress is 80 years old and it used to belong to my great grandmother who wore it for her own Eid celebrations as a young girl. It reminds me of my own dress that I planned to wear for Eid in 2014 and that is why I want the Museum to keep it safe.

Reem, 2008

Clay Dish of Good Memories

Sometime in 2017, my dad brought us this clay dish from one of the shops in Gaza. Mom used it to make countless tasty dishes. For example, she would make shrimp tagine, which takes on a completely different and unique flavor when cooked in this particular dish. It tastes like nothing else!

I’m a vegetarian now, so I prefer rice and falafel. I love attending our drama club, writing short stories and poems… and I love my dad! Rather than talking about the war, I prefer to think about all the good memories we’ve created together, and this clay dish carries many of them.

Israa, 2006

Dancing Dabka

This Kouffiah is very dear to my heart because it was gifted to me by my grandfather. During the Nakba in 1948, he was forced out of his home in the village of Brair. All the way from Brair to Gaza, he carried this scarf. It meant the world to me when he decided to give it to me.

Grandfather passed away three years ago, in 2018. Since I love dancing dabka, I wear this scarf whenever I dance, in his memory. 

Nowadays, I put all my energy into our school’s drama club. Our next play is about love and hope.

Hala, 2007

Winter Scarf

This scarf is a special handmade gift that my grandmother made for me when I was just six years old. We have a very close relationship and spend a lot of time together. That’s how I learned that Grandma was forced to leave her home in Briar in 1948, which is why my family and I all live in Gaza now.

Even today, she continues to make beautiful handmade scarves and other pieces of clothing. It makes her especially happy to see me wear them. 

This is one of the pieces she made for me. I used to wear it a lot during the winter, but now that I’ve outgrown it, I’m giving it to the Museum.

Rose, 2008

Grandfather’s Memento

This Quran has a long and storied family history, having once belonged to my grandfather. He was forcibly expelled from his home and village. When the soldiers broke into his home, this book was among the very few things he managed to grab before he was expelled.

After my grandfather’s passing, the Quran remained within our family, serving as a memento of him and a reminder of our ancestral village. 

These days, I often feel scared of something bad happening to me, but my family, particularly my mom and dad, comfort me and help me feel safe.

Salwa, 2006

A Special Reward

I was only seven years old during the 2014 war in Gaza. The Al-Nasser district, where we lived, became unsafe, so my family had to move into my grandmother’s house on Al-Jalaa street. We left in such a rush that I wasn’t able to take any of my toys with me. We spent more than a month there. At night, I was scared of the sounds of bomb explosions and I felt sad that none of my favorite toys were with me. 

Later, when we moved back to our own house, I started attending school again. At the end of grade six, I achieved the highest marks in school. As a reward for my achievement, my grandmother gifted me this embroidered wallet, which she made for me herself. I was overjoyed when I received it.

Malak, 2007

Birthday Gift

At the age of nine, I used to recite the slogan, “The most beautiful homeland is Palestine.”

As my tenth birthday approached, in September of that same year, my best friend came up with an idea for my gift. She asked her father, an artist in Gaza, to craft a medal inscribed with my favorite slogan. When I finally held it in my hands, I felt over the moon. It remains the best birthday gift I have ever received. 

Now that I’m older, I want this gift to find a new home in the Museum, where it can be kept safe forever.

Dana, 2007

Grandmother’s Scarf*

Because my family and I live by the border in the north of Gaza, we are always very close to clashes. I rarely feel safe. When I was younger, my grandmother would always try to distract me from what was happening outside. She would keep me company and tell me countless fairytales to help me feel safe.

When my grandmother passed away, I kept this scarf, which had belonged to her. Even though she is no longer with me, her scarf helps me feel safer. I want to give it to the War Childhood Museum because I want other children to know that sometimes safety can be found in small things, too.

Kefayah, 2006

*The War Childhood Museum only has a photo of this object. The original object was unfortunately lost during the bombing of Gaza in 2021. This is, so far, the only object lost from the WCM’s collections.

When I Miss My Sister

In 2019, my older sister was awarded a scholarship to study in Athens, Greece. We were excited for her getting an opportunity to receive a better education. However, we were also all aware of the difficulty in trying to get out of besieged Gaza. Despite that, she eventually made it to Athens to begin her studies. 

Since then, due to the closed borders, she hasn’t been able to come back and visit us. It’s been over two years since we last saw each other.

This is a souvenir that she gave me as a gift while she was still in Gaza. Whenever I miss her, I look at it and hold onto the hope that one day we will be reunited, even if it’s not in Gaza.

Saja, 2007

Time for Knitting

My aunt knits the most beautiful clothes. When I was ten, I would sit by her side, staring in awe as she turned regular wool into the most amazing scarves, caps, and jackets. They were the most beautiful handmade clothes I had ever seen.

It didn’t take long before I developed an interest in knitting myself. Luckily, my aunt was more than happy to teach me. I spent my free time observing her and learning from her until I could knit my own pieces. Nowadays, I enjoy knitting and making all kinds of crafts and embroidery.

I want to share my progress with you, so I’ve decided to donate a hat and a pair of socks, which I knitted all by myself.

Rasha, 2007

Life Outside of Gaza

In 2014, my family and I managed to leave Gaza. We spent four years living in Malaysia, where I learned that life is very different outside of Gaza. I went to school and I always felt safe. I even made some friends. 

One of those friends loved to make colorful handmade bracelets. I was impressed with how beautiful they were, so I asked her to teach me how to make them. She gave me these rubber bands, as well as the tools that she used, and she taught me how to braid a bracelet. This is one of the bracelets that I made while there.

We returned to Gaza four years ago. I don’t feel as safe here as I did in Malaysia, and I still treasure memories of my time there.

Hala, 2007

Hattah and Eqal

This is my grandfather’s traditional Palestinian scarf and headband (Hattah and Eqal). He took great pride in them as they were among the very few keepsakes he had from his village. After his death, the Hattah and Eqal were passed on to my father, who kept them safe in a special box. 

Two years ago, my father passed away. After his death, that same box filled with his most cherished memories was passed on to me. Among the items inside were my grandfather’s Hattah and Eqal.

Father had always cared deeply about preserving the memories of our heritage, and now that the responsibility has fallen to me, I want to donate these items to the Museum. By doing so, I hope that my father’s memory and our family history will be preserved and immortalized.

Rose, 2006

Wallets from the Akkila Shop

My family come from the small village of Yibna. Nowadays, we all live in Gaza. I’m staying with my parents and two siblings. 

One day, I was out on a walk with my mom and we passed by the Akkila shop in Gaza. The shop was full of colorful handmade embroidery. I told my mom that I liked these wallets and she decided to get them for me. I used these wallets a lot, mainly for saving money. 

I dream of one day having my own shop, full of handmade embroidery. I could even have different branches all over the world! I would send Palestinian women to these branches to teach others the craft. For the time being, however, these two wallets will be safer at the Museum than in Gaza.

Layal, 2007