For Suha, 10, and her friend, Nada, 9, each day begins with a visit to a communal water storage tank in the Gaza neighborhood of Shuja'iyeh. They patiently wait their turn to fill numerous empty plastic water cans that they must carry back to their family homes a quarter mile away. Each filled container can weigh over 40 pounds. It's a heavy burden for a young child, but without the daily trips to this sole source their families would go without water for drinking, cooking, and washing.
The war-ravaged Gaza neighborhood where the girls live with their families is among many which suffered heavy damage during last summer's conflict with Israel. Widespread destruction of homes and infrastructure, including the water and sanitation systems, left thousands of Gaza's families displaced and with no safe, reliable source of water.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), with support from relief partner, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), is responding to this urgent and most basic need with water delivery to 20 large refillable water storage tanks installed in the affected communities. The soft-sided, balloon-like bladders with a capacity of more than 900 gallons each ensure access to clean water for more than 27,600 vulnerable people living in Beit Hanoun, Shuja'iyeh, and Khan Younis neighborhoods of the Gaza Strip. IOCC is also providing affected families with hygiene kits, dignity kits and cleaning supplies for laundry and living spaces.
IOCC has had a humanitarian presence in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza since 1997. In the past year, IOCC has assisted more than 10,000 Gazan families with emergency food and household items, as well as provided community support to improve access to food, water, employment opportunities, and agricultural production.