A day in the life of an aid worker in Gaza

Saeed, Gaza

06 May 2024


Saaed, 40, has worked for CARE since 2009. He is currently working as CARE’s Emergency Coordinator in Gaza. In this blog, he talks about his life as an aid worker, father, and husband during the hardest time of his life.

Watch: A day in the life of Saaed

I still remember when I decided to become a humanitarian aid worker.

I grew up amid despair under occupation. More than anything I wanted to help my community; to help my people in Gaza during times of crisis and conflict. Now, almost 7 months after the war in Gaza escalated, I am looking back at what is currently the most difficult time of my life. As an aid worker, as a husband, a father of five children, and as a citizen of Gaza.

Multiple displacement

Saeed with his family, Gaza

Image: Saaed is welcomed home by his family after a long day. CARE/Team Yousef Ruzzi

Like 1.9 million Gazans, my family and I have had to flee multiple times. A few days after the war started, we fled to my brother’s house. Our neighbourhood in Gaza City was bombed and we knew we would not survive if we stayed. Only a week later, my brother’s house was also attacked, and we packed up our few things and fled to Khan Younis, in the middle area of Gaza.

Two months later, the war had followed us there as well, and we had no choice but move further south. In Rafah we rented a very small house with my brothers and sisters and their families.

The living conditions are incredibly hard, and we share 2 small rooms among a total of 17 people. Everything that people need to survive and live a normal life is missing.

People in Gaza have lost everything


Image: A mother with her young children at a camp for displaced people in Gaza. CARE/Team Yousef Ruzzi

All this time, wherever I was, I continued coordinating CARE’s emergency assistance for the now over 2 million people at risk of famine. As hard as my situation is, I know others needed my help: those who have suffered even more and lost everything.

Donate to CARE's Gaza crisis appeal today

Here in Rafah, for the past four months, my daily life as an aid worker has at least had a semblance of routine. Most mornings, I leave the house at around 7am. Mornings might be the most difficult part of my day, as my children hang on to my legs and beg me not to go. They have seen and heard of too many children losing one or both parents.

Once we have said our goodbyes and pray for all of us to see each other again in the evening, I drive to the joint humanitarian operations centre. In the office, I plan our aid distributions and coordinate with other agencies and our partners.

Only a fraction of trucks make it past the border

Saaed - aid trucks, Gaza

Image: Saaed and a colleague checking an aid truck from Egypt. CARE/Team Yousef Ruzzi

Many mornings, I drive to the border crossing to check on cargo trucks coming from Egypt, where our CARE colleagues are packing hygiene and dignity kits, as well as tools to repair shelters. So far, we have been able to get over 30 truckloads across, but it often takes up to two weeks and multiple checkpoints.

Every drop of water, every piece of bread, every hygiene item, and every tent mean so much to the people here, yet only a fraction of trucks is let in. So, for me, a good morning is when I see CARE packages pass the border.

We usually distribute the relief items in shelters such as schools or community centres, where hundreds of families are living in overcrowded, unhygienic conditions. Looking around, you see people’s despair on their faces, the grief in their eyes, and the horror of not knowing what will happen next. In these shelters, you will also see that most people are very sick. Children and young mothers are especially likely to be seen coughing from respiratory illnesses or suffering from diarrhoea and skin diseases.

Travelling is a huge risk

Saeed with aid supplies, Gaza

Image: Saaed sorting through aid supplies with a colleague. CARE/Team Yousef Ruzzi

We have also been travelling further out of Rafah to see people who are not even able to shelter in a building: from those who have set up tarpaulins over trees to create makeshift tents easily penetrated by the wind and cold to people simply laying on the street because they have nothing at all.

As an aid worker, travelling anywhere in Gaza is a huge risk. Just a few weeks ago, our colleagues at WCK were killed, as were over 200 aid workers since October. I know that as long as this war continues and bombs and missiles keep being dropped, nowhere in Gaza is safe.

Managing CARE’s relief efforts requires constantly shifting our plans, being flexible and creative. Our local partner organizations are working around the clock, and I collaborate with them every day to ensure we can adapt our approach to whatever the current situation on the ground is.

Everyone has lost so much

Queuing for water in Gaza

Image: People queue for water an at aid distribution in Gaza

Despite all of these challenges, we have managed to help over 350,000 people so far. I am proud of what our team has been able to achieve, but I can also see how all of this is taking a huge mental toll on all of us.

Every day we speak to people who mourn their loved ones, mothers who worry their children won’t survive the next night because of illness, and children who have stopped speaking because what they have endured has left them withdrawn and shattered. At the same time, us aid workers are also deeply affected by this war. We struggle to feed our own children, we search for medication when they get sick.

We live in a constant cycle of fear and uncertainty, where every second our world could unravel deeper into sadness and loss.

I have lost family members, friends, and colleagues. We have lost our homes, our dreams, and our sense of security. My children spend most of their time indoors now, playing board games and reading whatever books we can find. They miss going to school and playing outside with their friends. They are anxious and worried, afraid of the bombings and airstrikes we hear around us every day and every night.

Before the war, my wife worked as a teacher, I worked for CARE, and my children went to school and kindergarten. We still had to live under occupation, but at least we could get happiness out of the small things, like sharing a meal in our house, sleeping in our own bed, or enjoying family time with lots of laughter and smiles. All these small things now seem the world to me, bigger and more important than anything else could ever be. Sometimes you only realize how special all of this is when it gets taken away from you.

Hope for the future?

Saeed with his family, Gaza

Image: Saaed with his family. CARE/Team Yousef Ruzzi

My biggest worry is the safety and well-being of my family. Will my children ever experience a normal childhood again? How will the scars of war affect the rest of their lives, these invisible wounds that they acquire again and again, every day this conflict continues. I hope and I wish for peace and support for Gaza. I want my children to grow up in a safe environment where they can pursue their dreams without fear. I want them to go back to school to learn and to be well educated. As a father, I am proud of how resilient my family has been throughout this tragic and very difficult situation.

Despite the hardships and the challenges, we remain united and support each other. As a humanitarian aid worker, I am proud of how resilient us aid workers have been, how many people’s lives we have saved, given the lack of resources and the ever-present dangers.

I hope that people in this world see what we are going through, that behind all the numbers and statistics are real people with families, with dreams, with aspirations. Families just like mine.

I hope that people find it in their hearts to donate to our mission, to enable us to provide for the people around us and put a smile on women’s and children’s faces.

Donate to CARE's Gaza crisis appeal today

How you can help

Our dedicated team in Gaza is working round the clock to help people who have lost everything. Please donate to our emergency appeal today to help save lives.

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