Amid the devastating Israeli bombardment that has displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza, volunteer entertainer Ruaa Hassuna and her troupe offer a glimmer of relief to children in a south Gaza camp. Hassuna, playing the oud, a lute-like instrument, and other volunteers engage the children with music, slapstick, acrobatics, story-telling, and dance, aiming to provide them with a brief escape from the trauma of war.
The initiative, led by returning expatriate Awni Farhat, recognizes the severe psychological impact on children, who make up half of the 1.9 million displaced Palestinians. The performances, held in different camps each day, allow the children to momentarily immerse themselves in the arts, away from the sounds of drones and the harsh realities of their daily lives.
Despite the challenges, this humanitarian effort serves as a crucial outlet for children to express and alleviate the psychological burdens imposed by the ongoing conflict. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has labeled the Gaza Strip as “the most dangerous place in the world” for children, emphasizing the urgent need for initiatives that contribute to their well-being.
UNICEF spokesperson James Elder, who recently visited Gaza, highlighted the dire situation, noting children hospitalized for amputations were tragically killed in hospitals due to Israeli bombardments. The toll on Gaza’s population, with over 19,667 reported deaths, predominantly affecting women and children, underscores the importance of initiatives like Hassuna’s troupe in providing moments of solace for a generation robbed of its innocence by the harsh realities of conflict.