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My Name Is Madlien: Daring to Raise Palestinian Voices

I don't know if I can't sleep because of fear, cold, grief, or the nonstop noise of the drones. My house is gone. My extended family is gone. I lost everything I had. I look at myself now, and I can't recognize me anymore. But I need to be strong and keep using my voice and strength to be alive and tell the world what is happening to us. My name is Madlien, and I dare to elevate the voices of Palestinian women.  

Once upon a time, I was happy and dreamed about the future. Today, I can only think about staying alive. I'm a journalist, and I used to work for a local radio station in Gaza, where I was a presenter and show producer.  

My show, "On the Morning Table," projected hope and positivity in people's hearts and focused on youth-related issues, their success stories, achievements, and needs. We talked about women's issues and highlighted matters related to women's rights.  

Life was beautiful, even if we did not like it as much then. It was definitely better than now, with my family, my house, my friends, and our plans and ambitions.  

Before the war, my parents had left for a year and a half on a trip to get medical care. They came back two weeks before October 7 2023. Sadly, we had little time to gather, meet, or be together properly. 

After October 7th, everything has changed. My voice changed, my looks changed, my mental situation changed, my dreams changed, my wishes and my plans changed. Everything got worse when I lost my sister Maram and her 4-month-old daughter, who were killed in the bombings. Maram's loss pained me so much. She was killed during a communication blackout. I called her cell phone; it would ring, but she wasn't answering. Then I found out she was killed. She was buried while my mother and I were both away from her. We could not even see her or say our final farewell.  

After my sister was killed, I decided to go back to work, to tell the stories of the suffering of women. I leave my shelter every day to the schools, tents, and hospitals, and anywhere with displaced people. I leave my parents and daughter, and my husband behind.  

My husband lives in another area. Him and I meet in the afternoon at the beach in Deir El Balah, we steal time to be together.  

In the evening, I go back feeling torn from all the pain that I hear during the day, the sadness that covers the feelings of the displaced people. I speak to them about their pain.  

The women I interview tell me how they are going hungry so their children can eat. One woman told me that she hadn’t put any food in her mouth in three days so that she can find and save bits of food for her little children. Others tell me how when it comes to periods, everything they need is unavailable, when sanitary pads are found they are very expensive. One of the women once started bleeding, she was embarrassed and started crying because everyone saw her period blood. Many have resorted to using bits of tent cloth as substitute for sanitary pads which is extremely unhygienic. 

By collaborating with Women for Women International (WfWI) and other NGOs, I have the opportunity to elevate Palestinian women's voices and report the horrific situation we are going through. WfWI works with local partners on the ground in Gaza to provide hot meals, clothes and other essentials as well as trauma informed counseling to women and their families. 

I am determined to keep on reporting from the ground, even though I know journalists are being targeted. 

The war, though, is bringing me a lot of pain and anxiety. The Madlien that existed before, with the beautiful smile that used to project hope among people, does not exist anymore. I wonder if she's ever going to be back to the past days. Could anything in the world make up for the loss that we are experiencing? Absolutely not. Even though the situation seems endless, I am hopeful that Palestinian women’s voices will be heard, and that one day there will be peace in the region.  

I wish to get Palestinian women’s messages to the world. Hopefully one day I will be able to tell their stories in international courts and be their support. 

I will keep daring to raise my voice to raise theirs. 

Palestine Woman Behind Fence
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