Here’s a wonderful piece from We Are Not Numbers by Hossam Madhoun, founder of Gaza’s Theater for Everybody.

Whenever I see Gaza in the media, I don’t recognize it. It is portrayed so differently from what I know and what I live through. In the media, Gaza is blockade, bombardment, explosions, rockets, violence, struggle, terror and resistance.

For me, it is my coffee in the morning, the children walking to school, the sea breeze on my face, the shadow of the sun on a blooming flower, the little girl selling chewing gum by the traffic light, the doodles of the young boys on the walls, the fear on the face of my 9-year-old son when the power suddenly goes out, and his happy smile when I light a lamp or a candle. Gaza is both the access-restricted areas and the sparkling lights on the surface of the sea, the closed borders and the laughter of my friends smoking shisha while watching the sun set, the farmer tilling his land and the teachers in classrooms, the angry drivers and welcoming shopkeepers.

The Gaza I know is not what is portrayed in the media. The Gaza I know is full of life, and all that life can contain pain, happiness, success and failure, despair and hope, dark and light. Gaza is not black and white. In Gaza there are all the colors of the rainbow.

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A bird of love struggles to survive among birds of war (Basel Maqosui, acrcylic on paper)

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Gaza reconstruction: a bouquet of flowers (hope) against a darkening city (Basel Maqosui)

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Life in Gaza juxtaposes love, beauty…and the need to defend your loved ones from annihilation (Basel Maqosui)

I am from Gaza and I am not a number.

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