Volunteer Diary Entry – 1

Volunteer Diary Entry – 1

by H.S.  

The One With the Gaza Documentary

Dear readers, we go about our daily lives moment to moment living, rarely stopping in the midst of the chaos of life to reflect on where we came from, how far we’ve gotten, the many things that make  the world, which we live in, the many things that make us who we are. Most of the time we aim to push forward, keeping the cycle of life moving. Stopping would mean pausing on this rhythm that we have worked so hard to keep flowing. Like many of you this Author is no different, although she does feel the need to come out and share her story, her story of volunteering at this very cafe where some of you enjoy the amazing mochas, their vegan cookies (yum) and work through our tasks for the day or have marvellous conversations with our friends. These accounts written by her are close to the author’s heart, beating in memory as she tries to recollect her accounts and the small moments that changed her within. 

Entry #1 

DATE: June 10, 2024 

EVENT: Docs & Lattes

DOC: Born in Gaza 

Around 7:40 I was in tears, I felt shy and embarrassed. Both. No matter how hard I tried, the tears kept rolling down. I heard someone sniffle behind me, with a sigh in my mind I let mine roll down to accompany the other tears that I heard. It was the 10th June and I think it was a Saturday, my apologies it was a Monday, but the cafe was buzzing with people and conversation as though it was a weekend. I thought I was late, prior to this I was extremely nervous about how it was going to go, it was my first Docs & Lattes with the cafe and I was asking myself if I will be good enough; will they like my pictures? Would they be up to the mark? Would I be able to capture the rawness of the emotions? Would it be okay to capture those emotions? But if I don’t capture the realness of these pictures how will I express what they felt? 

There were these numerous thoughts that made home in my head all the way leading up to the event. Once I saw my manager I immediately asked her what she needed from me. This excites me, any sort of setting up, putting things together and seeing them become something makes me feel as though I contributed to something bigger than me and that I was a part of it. On this day the cameras were not functioning and I used my phone to capture  the images that I had planned to. We settled down and I found a spot by the corner, excitement filled me, the nerves had caused me to become even more active and ready to get on it.

I had never watched “Born in Gaza” prior to this and I knew the times we were in, it made perfect sense to me why we chose this documentary. I took a quick look around the room and saw several supporters, I managed to spot a young supporter who had dawned a Keffiyeh supporting Palestine and it made my heart swell because she understood why we were here, or in Gen Z terms… she understood the assignment. Once the documentary started, I was eager to capture the moments that kept the viewers on the hook, I was waiting for a moment  when somebody was ready for me, ready for me to capture their openness to this moment as I was. I took some snapshots of people sipping on to their coffees and interestingly watching what was going on the screens, I turned my attention towards the screen and it is at this point where I was officially a viewer and not a volunteer.

 I kept my gaze at the screen and watched intensely how the stories started  

The Film

They were children, they were merely even ten, some of them as young as four. It took me off guard, I had not expected young kids to be narrating the documentary but here I was watching every word they had to say. It was narrated in Arabic. I missed it, it reminded me of back home. I did not understand it very many much but their tone, their expressions, some words that I knew here and there, and the subtitles that were there all added up to how I was interpreting it. I have lived in the Middle East  and the streets, the infrastructure they showed were somehow close to me, I could not help myself but imagine if this were happening where I grew up. The things that were explained  broke my heart not once but many times during the entirety  of my watch.

Before I knew it, it was me that I caught crying first, I was pleasantly astonished and in shock when many of these kids were smiling, their mom’s trying to cheer the kids up, when they would play with their dolls even though they knew it was all temporary, I drank my tears and put out a strong front. It was gut wrenching to watch the kids explain how they lost their loved ones unexpectedly… can we imagine something like this happening to us? We go on about our days, sometimes annoyed by our partners or families and wish our lives were different, some of  us wish we didn’t have our sucky jobs, some of us wished we didn’t live in a particular area of where we currently reside. Again I am no different, we all have  something we wish to change.

Looking at their lives I kept reflecting on mine, constantly making those parallels, what do I have that they don’t and the answers in my head kept coming and they didn’t stop. It was the understanding of where I am at present, what I have at present and what they don’t that got me constantly thinking and thanking God up there for what I do have. A moment like that impacted me so much that I forgot where I was, hearing those sniffles made me realize it was okay for me to let myself be. I managed to wipe them away, thinking to myself how the emotions took a ride from feeling heartbroken to feeling grateful to feeling even more heartbroken when I realized that the documentary was showing  a resolve- an aftermath,  a normal life, kids going to school, people roaming in the streets, the old ladies who were buying food, several of them were seen moving through their life into a new sense of normalcy.

This was the point where I internally broke down within myself, because this is when reality kicked in, I remember thinking to myself  “this is still happening” and questioning where would they be now? I wondered as I think most of the viewers did as well, where are they now? Are they okay? They must have grown up since to relive it again. So many thoughts again that were rushing to my head. But this time they were all questions that I knew I had to ask myself that I knew were important and I could not stay in ignorance any longer. This documentary opened my perspective to something even more than I thought it would. It made me appreciate what I have, it made me think, it made me think and that is what I want to take away from this experience.

After the Documentary

After the screening it was quiet, very quiet, we didn’t talk for a while everybody was visibly taking some time to process. We made a circle and shared our experiences, the feeling didn’t leave us. I won’t be sharing what we shared there, but this I can tell, I wasn’t alone, this I can tell you, you are not alone. I knew it was time for my bus and the night was coming to an end, I looked around to see the many people gathered around, some had not finished their snacks, the coffees left alone, conversations prior to the screening were halted and it was as though we paused time.

My Message To You

Readers, I know we all have something here and there that takes up space in our head and we all have our own lives to get to but I only ask of you to take a step back and look at how blessed we are at present. We can help each other simply by being kind and understanding of others and ourselves. 

Keeping hope and looking forward to to newer experiences…

This Author takes her leave. 

Until next time readers!

H.S

This diary entry is written by H.S.