The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Gaza Unlocked Stories: Firas Ramlawi

  Education Electricity

Firas Ramlawi, 38 — American Friends Service Committee

"Classrooms are crowded, class times are shortened, and schools don’t have resources."

Take action today: Restore power to Gaza

On education
Before 2000, 90 percent of schools in Gaza ran on single shifts. Now nearly all schools run on double shifts, and a few schools have run on triple shifts during emergency situations. The morning shift runs from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., and the afternoon shift runs from 12 p.m. to 4:30 pm. The shifts are shorter during the winter when there is less daylight. This is because of the lack of electricity. You can’t go to school in the dark.

Two shifts is not good. I have four children in school, and dealing with their days takes up all of my wife’s time from 5 a.m. until 6 p.m. The first two kids must be at school for the first shift, and the second two for the second shift. We are constantly moving children. This impacts how your homework is planned, how meals are planned, how sleep schedules are planned. There is no social life or time outside for my wife. She is going from morning until night.

The 2014 attack on Gaza damaged 252 schools. Educational facilities are protected spaces under international law.

Education is also negatively impacted as classrooms are crowded, class times are shortened, and schools don’t have resources.

We need more schools in Gaza, but they can’t be built because of the blockade.

On electricity
We have a good relationship with batteries in Gaza. At home we have batteries for our lights. We have a battery for our fridge. We have batteries for hand lights to use in the stairs when the power is out. I bought an extra battery for my computer, and we have spare batteries and chargers for our phones. We spend around $1,000 per year just on batteries. We can’’ afford this, but how else do you live with only six or eight hours of electricity?

When we sleep, we plug everything in in case the electricity comes on. Then everything will charge. Yesterday the power came on in the middle of the night. My wife got up and started ironing, cooking, doing the wash, and more. She was doing four things at once. It was crazy, but she finished everything. You do what you can when the power is on.

In the city you know when the power comes on because you can hear people celebrating. It doesn’t matter what time it is.

Donate to the MRSCP’s Gaza Lights for Rafah Campaign

Help unlock Gaza: Contact Congress today, and urge them to take action to end the blockade.

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace, and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the Quaker belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

American Friends Service Committee