Being born as a refugee is a destiny that has always been the main factor in shaping each step of my life. Since my first steps in this unjust world, my grandmother who fled her homeland Beith Jirja at the age of 18 holding two children in her lap, used to spend whole nights telling my siblings and I what it means to be displaced and forced to leave home. I was raised in Gaza Strip where my grandparents fled to as it was the closest and safest place to our origin village. However, I have never felt it was my home. I think we refugees are unable to find out what home is because we have an image of home related to our homelands. Till this day I have internal conflict towards “home”.
My greatest hero, my dad, had many ambitions and dreams when he was my age but he couldn’t achieve most of them. The Israeli occupation imprisoned him for 15 years as a consequences of his political activities due to his stubbornness and strong will. Dad was able to study high school inside the jails but couldn’t continue his bachelor studies due to the conditions and regulations of the prisons at that time but that never buried his passion for education. Instead, his thirst and urge to study inspired him to make his own library at our home today. It also made him do all that he could just to make sure that we would have a good life and a good education.
I know that I talk about my dad so much; not only in my articles but also in my daily life. I think it is quite normal when one has such a father. I remember, since I started going to primary school, my dad’s promises to send me to Europe if I got high marks on my exams. At that time, I was trapped between studying to go to that unimaginable place – Europe – and trying to figure out the “home” I was living in. However, unfortunately all my efforts to define “home” had failed. I got so lost that I buried myself into being a nerd in high school. My dad used to repeatedly say “You have to know that a high school diploma is the door to Europe”. All I was dreaming about was just satisfying my teenage curiosity, about the other world, which required traveling. All his sayings were out of knowledge and experience that having a good life, reaching to where we want to be, in the Gaza Strip is quiet impossible. Despite all the difficulties I have been through, I was lucky enough to purse my studies. Not in Europe but far outside the biggest open-prison. Yeah, don’t worry I visited more than 15 cities in the “unimaginable” continent.
As a 19 year-old teenager years ago; I brought all my excitement and energy all the way from the dark side of the world to Turkey. I came holding the dream of finding out what home means. It wasn’t easy at all for a young girl who has no clue about the “other world” to discover everything by herself. In the very initial period, I felt myself as an alien, but with time I was able to manage the hardships successfully. Few months separate me from my graduation ceremony, I should be happy but a Palestinian cannot enjoy this stage of life due to the unknown future. I am unable to plan my future because of my identity as a Palestinian refugee. Many people are curious about my future plans and keep asking me “What are you going to do after graduation?” I just HATE this question. No, it is not a simple question at all. Why don’t they think before asking me this silly question? Why don’t they put their feet in my shoes? Let me tell you the reasons. Gaza? Well, we all know that it is already an unlivable place. Even I am not welcomed to Gaza because of the ongoing siege. Europe? It is not easy at all. How about Turkey? It is difficult to even obtain a residence permit in Turkey. Then where to go?
I have been looking for a home since I came to this world for almost 23 years. I know that this is the destiny of each Palestinian. To be honest, returning back to our origin village is a dream that we, Palestinians, are going to keep fighting for. Knowing what “home” feels like is also a dream. There is a positive point here. Dreaming is free of consequences so we can dream as much as we can. Let’s dream!