I was only 7 years old when I first got the chance to travel abroad to somewhere beyond my little home called Gaza City, Palestine. It was one of the most amazing things that ever happened to my family and I.
We got our visas and tickets to visit family in Sydney, Australia for our three-month long summer vacation. Of course, as Palestinians we had to suffer and live through hardships to get this opportunity, but with the mercy of god, we were accepted. We were interviewed by the Australian Embassy in Jerusalem, submitted all of our applications and papers, and then we were off.
At that age, I never understood the conflict and how hard it is to identify as a Palestinian, how hard it is to have citizenship from the Palestinian Authority. I never understood how much we had/have to suffer for being a citizen of Gaza city, for being an Arab, and in particular, for wanting to travel. However, my family at that time understood all that- they had lived it, they had faced it all just to see our family across the world.
I could only remember the tears of joy among my family members, the shock, how surprised everybody was that we had finally arrived in Australia. Even though my mother is Lebanese and my father is half Egyptian, it was nearly impossible to get accepted to travel anywhere besides Australia simply due our Palestinian citizenship and identity.
Unlike some other countries, which have treated Arabs and Palestinians as if they aren’t humans in the past, we were treated well by the Australian government and municipality in Sydney. It wasn’t such a shock, as they have a history of being amicable towards those Palestinians with Australian citizenship that have lived there for years. Of course, that is not to say that we didn’t have our hardships. Some would freak out just to knowing our nationality, while others wouldn’t even take the chance to get to know us. People can be so judgmental. Despite it all, it was wonderful spending quality time there with family.
After some years we applied again to visit Australia, but things had changed and our request was denied. We tried our hand at some other countries too, but yet again we were denied. I can’t tell how hard it is to be a refugee… Gaza isn’t even our original town, but it is the place we live in now. We tried to go back to Lebanon, but we could only stay there for a few months because as refugees from Palestine, we don’t get the same opportunities that the Lebanese people have…
“To Be Continued”