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Zohair Abu Shaban , Radio Netherlands Worldwide , 29 November 2008
|Zohair Abu Shaban|
There, I developed an ECG monitoring system that enables patients’ hearts to be monitored at home through a personal computer and an Internet link. I won the university prize for distinguished projects for my innovation. I long dreamed of the other advances I might make after an education at the University of Connecticut, where I was scheduled to study this fall for a master’s degree in electrical engineering.
|An estimated 1.4 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, a narrow coastal strip along the Mediterranean Sea about 41 km long and between 6 & 12 km wide|
|The tunnel that leads to the Israeli side. Thousands of Gazans used to pass here every day to work in Israel|
I’m not prepared to give up my plans. I worked very hard and earned another full scholarship to UK to study in one of the best universities in the world, Imperial College London. I got the British visa last September but my travel plans still need a miracle to take place.
The good news came on September 21 and Rafah border opened. So I grabbed my luggage brimming with hope that I would take my seat beside other international students in one of the Imperial College halls. I approached Rafah and stayed there for about 24 hours in no man’s land. I spent a whole day and night there waiting for my bus to come. It never did. Only three busses were allowed and I was in the twelfth. There I recognised the fact that I am different from my international colleagues at Imperial who have already started their study while I am still stranded in the hell that is the Gaza Strip.
What troubles me most, however, is not my own personal plight, but the effect this experience has had on my talented younger brother.
After watching what I have endured as an innocent and politically unaffiliated student, he has concluded that he will no longer pursue the educational dream outside of Gaza he once held. His horizons are closing.
As an older brother from a family that places deep value on education, it pains me to see his own ambitions falter because of the injustice I am facing.
I wonder what hopelessness all children in Gaza suffer when they learn that Gaza’s best students are confined by Israel to the cramped Gaza Strip? How are they to succeed when their parents discover local stores are empty of pencils, pens and notebooks because of the economic blockade of our small parcel of land?
There are hundreds of Palestinian students in Gaza hoping for a miracle so that we can pursue scholarships that may offer a once-in-a-lifetime escape from ignorance and poverty. We are determined not to be rendered a dependent people lacking advanced education.
And yet the silence of the world suggests that Israel will succeed in keeping us within the limiting confines of Gaza. Maybe the students of the world will think of me and my fellow Palestinian students because we the students of Gaza long to be with you.