By Allen Williams
The summer of 2014 will be remembered as a time of horror for the people of Gaza. Among the millions of people who live in this small strip of land is a minority group named the Dom. The Dom are the “cousins” of the Roma people in Europe; that is, both of these people share a common origin and ethnic identity, but it has been more than 1,000 years since their ancestors lived in India.
The 7,000-8,000 thousand Dom living in Gaza are apolitical, but this neutrality did not stop the destruction of their homes, or protect them from injury or death. During the summer conflict, 29 Dom died, including six individuals who died as they sifted through the rubble of a building that collapsed on their neighbors. Their rescue efforts ended when a missile hit nearby killing them all.
One sign that life is returning to normal in Gaza is the reopening of the schools for classes rather than as bomb shelters. But the reopening of schools and businesses cannot provide a sense of stability that will offset the psychological trauma that comes when war is fought in your neighborhood.
The physical effects of war are also evident as one watches the children return to school bearing the scars of severe head injuries, or without all of their limbs. Dom leaders point out a new reality for some of these children that is not so easily observable; that is, some of these children are now orphans.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship joined other concerned organizations and individuals in an effort to provide food and medicines to the Dom community during the conflict.
With the end of the hostilities, medicines continue to be in short supply and housing is a problem. There are numerous situations where three or four Dom families are sharing a small apartment with little hope of finding adequate housing in the near future.
Recovery for this community will be extremely slow. Their social and economic marginalization will limit the resources they will need for this process, while the expanding conflict in the Middle East as a whole will redirect the world’s attention to other tragedies.
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s field personnel will continue to engage the Dom community of Gaza in an effort to assist with the relief and recovery efforts. Interested individuals are encouraged to give to this effort online (note: type “Project #80213 in box) or by mailing a check payable to “CBF” with “Project #80213/Dom Relief” in the memo line to:
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
P.O. Box 102972
Atlanta, GA 30368-2972