A mother and four children saved at the last minute

Publié: 18 août 2014 14:35 CET

By Ra’ed El Nims, PRCS

Rida Abou Assi, a 24 year old widow and head of a poverty-stricken family. When her husband passed away two years ago, she became the head of the family, caring and providing for her four little children aged between three and nine in Al Zanneh neighborhood in Bani Suhayla, east of Khan Younis.

Rida never thought she would have to go through an experience even more tragic than the death of her husband. Around mid-July 2014, as she was preparing that day’s Ramadan meal for her children, shelling rained down without prior notice, killing and wounding many Palestinians in her neighborhood.

“I was filled with fear for my children. There were deafening blasts everywhere, and the children were terrified. I held them as close as I could as they screamed and cried. I did not know what to do or who to turn to as we live alone in our small house. I tried calming them down, but the bombs continued to fall, and they were filled with terror. I took them to a corner in one of the rooms and we stayed there, with my arms covering their heads, for 30 minutes”, she said.

Amidst her children’s screams and tears, Rida dialed 101 on her mobile phone and reached the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) emergency center. She explained her predicament and asked for their help. A few minutes later, a PRCS’ ambulance arrived at her house, under heavy shelling. The PRCS emergency medical teams helped Rida and her four children get on the ambulance, leading them away from the fumes of smoke and the smell of death.

“You wouldn’t believe how happy I was to hear the ambulance’s siren, despite my fear and despair, and how reassured I felt when the volunteers from Palestine Red Crescent evacuated us from a house that has become so unsafe. An hour later, as we waited in a Khan Younis school together with tens of other families, I was told that my house was hit by a bomb and was reduced to rubble. This news troubled me: had we stayed in the house for another hour, that bomb would have killed us all. I thank God they got to us in time and saved our lives”, she added.

Ever since, Rida and her children have been living in a school-turned-shelter alongside many neighbors and extended family members. They are all waiting patiently for a solution to their massive displacement.“Life here is undoubtedly extremely difficult. We left our clothes and belongings in our home, which no longer exists.

However, support and necessary items provided by the Palestine Red Crescent, including food, mattresses and psychological support for our children help alleviate our suffering and make life a little bit easier until we find another house that would become our future home”, she added.