Sunday, April 21, 2024

9-Year-Old Orphan Hopes to Start Over His Life in Canada

Nine-year-old Yahya Hamad was sleeping beside his parents and siblings when an Israeli air strike destroyed their home in central Gaza, where many families were taking shelter.

Yahya told media outlets that he woke up to the sounds of explosions and screams.

He was covered with rocks and rubble and was breathing from a small hole. Desperate for help, he put his hand out so rescuers could find him.

While he was eventually rescued, the rest of his family – including his father, mother, brothers, and sister, didn’t make it; they were all killed in the blast. Yahya himself suffered many broken bones, which left him in agonizing pain.

yahya
9-year-old Yahya is the sole survivor of an Israeli airstrike that killed his parents and three siblings

With tears in his eyes, he said he wanted to see his parents’ faces again but he didn’t have anything – not even pictures.

According to UNICEF, more than 17,000 children have either been separated from their families or have been orphaned because of the ongoing war.

Despite the circumstances, Yahya is determined to try and leave the horrors that are happening in the Gaza Strip.

His goal is to go to Winnipeg, Canada, where he has relatives, through the special visa program offered by the government. However, it’s an expensive and difficult process.

According to his uncle, the costs of travel, visas, and accommodation for the 9-year-old to reach Canada will likely be over $40,000, a number that his family simply can’t afford.

Many Traumatized Children in Gaza

According to the World Health Organization, only 12 out of 36 hospitals in Gaza are currently functioning. Counseling and psychological support for orphaned children are also limited.

dr degran
Medical resources are extremely limited in Gaza, with only 12 out of 36 hospitals being functional

Dr. Khalil Al Degran, who works at a Deir al Balah Hospital, said many children are experiencing anxiety, depression, and isolation, including Yahya.

He has also seen several orphans who have lost dozens of family members in the war, with those old enough to realize their parents are gone, suffering the most.

UNICEF officials said while some of the orphans are lucky enough to be cared for by extended family, many will likely suffer lifelong trauma due to the tragic loss of their parents and siblings. They estimate that 100 percent of children living in Gaza will need mental health intervention and they are doing the best that they can under the circumstances.

Another Sole Survivor

12-year-old Alma Al Jarrour is another sole survivor. She lost her parents and her four siblings when their home was hit by an Israeli airstrike on Feb 2.

alma
Alma is currently living with her uncle, aunt, and cousins

While she did not suffer any injuries, it’s obvious to her uncle, who has since adopted and taken her in, that she is suffering as she often cries inconsolably when she remembers the attack.

Fortunately, she has her cousins, whom she now refers to as her new siblings, to play with and help her feel less alone.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.
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