This account was provided by Sahar, from Gaza

Refugees in the Latin church near my house... a very ironic situation. In the first days of the war, I stayed in my house with my 15-year-old son, Ramzi. We had food supplies and electricity, water for washing and drinking. As the war continued more fiercely, we had electricity for only a few hours. We decided to spend those hours at my house. I cooked for my friends and invited them to take showers at my home because most of them were not able to go to their homes; they were refugees at the Latin church. 

As it was dangerous to stay at our home with the escalation of the war and bombardment all over our area, all my windows were broken, my door was bombarded, and the water tanks were also bombarded. We decided to sleep at the school in the Latin church. It was a strange feeling, but I felt much safer being with other families. We all became closer to each other like a big family. We lived in a classroom with 12 people: 3 families with their kids, a newborn baby girl, the youngest, and the eldest man, 77 years old. You can’t imagine how annoying that was, but we adapted and lived each day, doing our daily routine. It was hard handwashing our clothes, preparing meals within the means of our food supplies, waiting each day for a bucket of hot water to take a shower in the bathroom. For more than 50 people, we had to wait in line to get the hot water bucket for each family and take turns using the bathroom.

We all prayed the holy mass every day and the most holy Eucharist daily for peace, which kept us feeling better and stronger, though it was hard being surrounded by many people injured or killed from the bombardment. Thank God we were living in Virgin Mary care compared to other people living in dangerous places in Gaza City without having any idea what they would eat or even having bread we gave our neighbors and any other people food and water and if any one needed medicine or medical help the doctors living in the shelter did the best first aid or more if needed .at Ramadan Eid the committee distributed dates and wheat flour for people near by the church.The church committee ,Father Gabriel Rom the head of church and his assistant Father Yousif the best of effort to secure baking for all the refugees and cooked decent meals along with providing medical aid to those who needed it.

I enjoyed taking care of the little infant in our room. Her name is Mariam, though she needs her own safe home. And my friend's little 3-year-old daughter, Lola, I took care of her, helping her injured mother from bombshells. On the other hand, my son Ramzi spent his time helping the church committee at the stores, arranging, and cleaning the church yards. That was helpful for him to distract him from fear and anxiety. I was so afraid that he would have a nervous breakdown. It’s not a normal life for anyone, but he is a teenager, much more difficult for him to cope with the war, especially when his father was away on a business trip abroad. I thank God we were at the Latin church being taken care of by Father Gabriel and his assistant Father Yousef who was in Gaza City from the beginning of the war along with the committee the many hardships they faced was met with tolerance and care.

(images by Ramy Tarazi, who also sheltering at the Holy Family Latin Church in Gaza)