Mohammad Salah Arafat was born on 10th August, 1992; he was born in the Al-Zaytoon suburb, which is in the east of Gaza. Mohammad is one of eight children; he has four sisters and three brothers. Mohammad’s siblings in chronological order are; (1) Samah. (2) Sahar. (3) Mohammad. (4) Ala`. (5) Yousef. (6) Asma. (7) Yasser. (8) Fares.
Growing up in Gaza has been tough for Mohammad and his family; partly because of the troubles with Israel, and also because they’re a poor family; although Mohammad points out that, his family might of been poor, but none of them went without love and care, their lives have been filled with love because of his amazing parents, who he loves more than anything in the world.
As a child Mohammad liked his own company and he tended to play by himself; although he wanted to have friends he found it difficult to mix with children his own age, so, at times during his childhood he felt lonely as he had no friends to play with. All he had was his family, whom he considers his best friends, as they’ve always been there for each other; quite simply, ‘Mohammad’s family is his life’.
Mohammad began his education in 1997 in Al-Safad school, although he found school life hard to begin with because he wasn’t very successful, and because he had low marks he was mostly ignored by his teachers. Then his parents moved him to another school, but because he was still getting low grades with his school work he decided to leave school and look for a job; as he wanted to bring in an income to try to help his parents by taking away some of the financial hardships and help create a better quality of life for his family.
It was Mohammad’s parents who encouraged him to go back to school and keep trying to get past his difficulties; the love, support and encouragement his parents gave him made him take more of an interest in his school work; and gradually over time it was his English language school teachers who noticed that he had a gift for this subject; and finally the teachers started to take an interest in him, and they began to encourage and motivate him. Slowly and gradually Mohammad’s grades began to improve. In 2008 he reached the eleventh grade in Shohada ‘Al-Zaytoon secondary school; by the end of this school year his work had improved so much he had the third highest marks in the school that year!
In 2009 Mohammad took the secondary general examination where he got 83.7%; this high grade helped him join the Islamic university of Gaza to study English; despite his families’ difficult financial situation, his parents encouraged him to continue his studies. Mohammad worked hard during his time at university, and finally in 2014 he graduated from the Islamic university of Gaza with a degree in English language.
Now, like many Gazan’s, Mohammad has a love of learning and his aims are to continue with his studies, and eventually get his Masters degree. He would love to get out of Gaza and study in another country to obtain his Masters degree, but unfortunately the cost is so high, but Mohammad is not letting that put him off as he is determined to try his hardest to achieve his dreams. Mohammad would love to be able to work and pay for his education himself, but unfortunately the situation in Gaza is so extreme and there are no real jobs or money; the only jobs that are available are unpaid voluntary jobs, and Mohammad has taken one of these, so he can get experience and hopefully this experience will help him get a paid job. Mohammad is also hoping that this book project can become successful, because it could open more doors for him and other people in the same situation in Gaza.
Mohammad has already begun trying to get his voice heard and educate people about the true situation in Gaza; he self published his first book, which is a novel about the 1948 Palestinian catastrophe and about the last war on Gaza. At the beginning of the book, Mohammad writes about a true story he witnessed with his family during the last war, whilst they were fleeing their home and running for their lives. This book is currently available on Amazon.
Mohammad is just like any other man in Gaza, all they want is peace and to be able to live freely, not be locked away liked caged animals. Mohammad’s dreams are to get his masters, have a paid job, a nice home with a wife and family of his own. Will he be able to achieve these basic simple things, or will Israel prevent this from happening? One day soon, Palestine will be free.