RAMALLAH, August 10 (JMCC) - In the hot afternoons, families gather in Gaza's central park looking for a little entertainment. Unable to leave the Gaza Strip, Gaza's children see a simple carriage ride as a novelty, reports
Al and his 13 siblings became jobless when Israel imposed its extensive siege on the Gaza Strip in 2006. The family needed a new source of income.
We used to make doors, windows, whatever people wanted, but after the borders closed, steel stopped coming into Gaza, and we couldn't do much with the steel we had because of the constant power cuts, Al says.
Since we already had horses and knew how to work with metal, we decided to design a leisure carriage.
The project was an immediate success. We had a lot of work right away, because it was a novelty. People started asking us to deliver couples to their wedding halls.
But now, a few years later, work is not as steady. The novelty has worn off a little, Ramadan Al admits. On an average evening, ten families ride the carriages; on a weekend, half as many more.
The problem is that people who have money are saving it for gifts and donations during the month of Ramadan, and for the new school year, says Al.
We charge five shekels to circle around the park, but when I see families who don't have the money but whose children want to ride, we take them without fare, so the kids can enjoy themselves a little.
Al says he preferred the blacksmith work, but was left with no choice under the Israeli siege but to craft a new source of income. As difficult as the siege is and our lives in Gaza have become, we always find a means to continue living, despite the worst conditions.
With a similar desire to create something novel for Gaza's Palestinians, Gazan engineers created their version of a children's train.
Made largely from scraps and spare car parts, the red and white, two-car one-engine train cruises from the Jundi along Gaza's main streets churning music and giving children a ride for just two shekels. Idyllic scenes of green pastures dress the passenger cars as Gaza's children escape the bleak reality of grey cement, bombed buildings, and bulldozed farmland.
Gaza City's municipal park offers little other than dehydrated greenery and a different place to while away the hot afternoon hours. The fountain is waterless, the plants stunted. The children's play area has a number of short plastic slides and a swing-less swing.