Pregnant UCL alumna in Gaza sets up GoFundMe in order to evacuate and give birth safely

Yara told the The London Tab of the ‘disastrous’ conditions, with no access to medical care or electricity

A UCL alumna living in Gaza has spoken of the “horrific” conditions in the city which led her to create a GoFundMe in order to evacuate the city.

Yara, who is currently pregnant, spoke to The London Tab about how the war has affected her as a displaced person struggling to access to medicine and aid.

With no electricity or healthcare, Yara described her situation as “disastrous” and hopes to raise enough money to leave Gaza with her children.

Growing up in Gaza from the age of six, Yara studied MA education and international development at UCL’s Institute of Education in 2018 and found moving to London for her degree a “once in a lifetime experience.”

After graduating, she returned to Gaza. Yara explained that “life was never perfect in Gaza, but it has its own charm.” Describing her average day in Gaza before October 7th, Yara explained how she would go to work, return home and go out with family or friends: “We would go and have breakfast at our favourite restaurant or on the beach.”

She added: “This is what we were planning to do on October 7th, but instead we woke up to the sound of missiles.” Since October, some 1.7 million people in Gaza have been displaced, including thousands of pregnant women such as Yara.

Already a mother to her young son, Yara is soon due to give birth to her second child with no access to diapers, formula milk, newborn clothes or any other resources. Speaking of the distress this reality has caused her, she said: “I can’t sleep at night thinking about this and how I am going to manage this.”

Explaining that herself and her family have been displaced six times, Yara described how her life is very different to how it was before October 7th, even during previous times of conflict.

She said: “I was displaced with 50 family members at my parents house for 50 days before we were ordered to evacuate again. It’s impossible to describe being displaced with this number of people and having to sleep with almost 10 at one room, having to accommodate each one’s needs and managing food and resources at a minimum. It is disastrous.”

“Usually, we would stay home and watch the news on TV. This time, we were forcibly displaced with almost 50 other family members. Imagine being in one flat with 50 other people.

Speaking about access to electricity, Yara said that her and her family had been cut off: “All the infrastructure has been destroyed, we don’t have any electricity or any source of entertainment. We wake up early in the morning, have breakfast with the minimum resources available and just spend the rest of the day with what is available. We are just counting days.”

Moreover, Yara has become unable to access medical care, leaving her worried about the health of her baby. She described how trying to access medical services has been “an endless journey of suffering.” She explained: “This war is unprecedented and can’t be compared to any other. When the war started, I was 12 weeks pregnant, I couldn’t access any medical care until I was 26 weeks pregnant.”

Explaining how healthcare in Gaza has become inaccessible, Yara said: “The health system has already collapsed with the continuous targeting of hospitals and medical facilities. Even if medical facilities were available, hospitals are overly cramped and operating at a minimum, already taken as shelters to internally displaced people.”

The emotional impact of the war has taken a toll on Yara, who explained that she struggled to comprehend the losses she has suffered since October, including her home in which she made precious memories in.

“Sometimes it gets so hard for me to talk about this or put it in words. Sometimes all I want is to scream my lungs out and cry endlessly. This war has affected me so badly. I have lost everything. My house got bombed, the place I love most and lived in for four years: The place I got married in, got pregnant and gave birth to my first son in, the place I had my ups and downs and built my memories at with my husband and son.”

Despite her ties to Gaza, Yara is desperate to flee due to the dire conditions of her daily life there. She hopes to escape through the Rafah crossing into Egypt and hopes to raise funds for a permit through her GoFundMe campaign.

Since creating the fundraiser, Yara has been supported by current UCL students including the UCL Justice for Palestine society, which is helping her to raise money to evacuate and give birth safely.

The society has previously staged protests in support of Palestine since October 7th, including an occupation of the university’s Jeremy Bentham Room. Students at universities across the UK have joined in staging occupations, including at the University of Leeds.

Vigil held by UCL students honoring Dr Alareer

UCL students also criticised university management at the start of the year for not releasing a a statement over the death of Palestinian poet and alumni, Dr Refaat Alareer. A vigil organised by students was held in the Main Quad in his name and students demonstrated by attempting to rename the UCL Student centre in his honour.

Students rename the UCL Student centre

As protests continue at UCL, the situation becomes more and more urgent in Gaza. With little resources or shelter, and not knowing whether her area will face strikes, Yara worries most about the safety of her children.

She explained her worries about bringing another child into world after experiencing the war in Gaza: “This war has left me with nothing but guilt for bringing children to this war. It has left me speechless to the injustice it unleashed and the hypocrisy of this world.”

Yara also described her worries about protecting her children when there is no safe place in Gaza. She said: “I already feel so guilty for bringing a child into these impossible circumstances. The bombing and shelling is everywhere and it doesn’t matter whether you are a civilian or not, you can be a direct target anytime.

“I couldn’t sleep for many nights as the quadcopter was hovering over our window while asleep and scanning everything around. I have left unimaginable nights feeling scared hearing the sounds of carpet bombing and hugging my son every time I hear these sounds thinking I might be next.”

Yara hopes to eventually rebuild her life after the war, using money raised through her GoFundMe to evacuate Gaza for medical reasons.

Update: Yara has raised enough money to evacuate to Cairo, where she is staying now. She is still raising money to help her family in Gaza and to rebuild their home that was destroyed.

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