Laila (15) from Gaza Uses Social Media to Defend Children's Rights

Laila (15) is used to the fragility of life in the Gaza Strip. Yet, that familiar feeling of being awoken in the early hours by the sound of an approaching airstrike hasn't gotten any easier. Laila would revisit years of fear and violence as she fled her apartment block just minutes before the explosion - her youngest sister in her arms.
Laila from Gaza - War Child - occupied Palestinian territories - defending children's rights

“At first we thought that the bombing was targeted at another building - we soon realised it was ours”, explains Laila (15)

Photo: War Child

Searching for Safety

“At first we thought that the bombing was targeted at another building - we soon realised it was ours”, she explains. “I grabbed my sister, the bag of emergency items and ran.” Laila and her eight family members were the first to arrive at the entrance of the building. As soon as they stepped out, they became a target.

Laila was overcome by panic. “Our family was separated and my sisters’ face was covered in blood”, she says. “My parents and the rest of my siblings were trapped inside."

Luckily, she knew exactly what to do: “I remembered our plans for an emergency evacuation.” Her family had marked the UNRWA building opposite their home as a safe point. “My goal was to reach the wall of the building and rescue my sister.”

It felt like forever yet, moments later, Laila’s family was reunited and picked up by an ambulance. Laila: “When I reached the hospital, I breathed a sigh of relief. This was a safe place.”

“At first we thought that the bombing was targeted at another building - we soon realised it was ours."
Laila (15) from Gaza
Laila from Gaza - War Child - occupied Palestinian territories - defending children's rights

Although it felt 'like forever', Laila’s family was quickly reunited and picked up by an ambulance

Photo: War Child

Laila from Gaza - War Child - occupied Palestinian territories - defending children's rights

Laila: “When I reached the hospital, I breathed a sigh of relief. This was a safe place.”

Photo: War Child

My Weapon: Social Media

Laila later published a video on social media documenting what had happened to them. She has many followers from all over the world and uses her channels as a tool to defend the rights of innocent civilians.

“We are all victims of something much bigger than us”, she says. “Especially children. I try to communicate that and show the truth.”

Living with Trauma

Since the incident, Laila’s father, a psychologist who also heads up a group of volunteers at a local NGO, has been practicing a double role.

“We suffer from lack of sleep and nightmares. My father is doing a great job of helping us release negative feelings through storytelling, puppet shows and drawing”, she says proudly. “He also made a swing for us at home which, whenever I use, I feel I can let go of all my fears.”

“All that I think about right now is safety. I miss the apartment, my friends; and yearn to live a calm life again."
Laila (15) from Gaza
Laila from Gaza - War Child - occupied Palestinian territories - defending children's rights

Laila has many social media followers and uses her channels as a tool to defend the rights of innocent civilians

Photo: War Child

Laila from Gaza - War Child - occupied Palestinian territories - defending children's rights

Laila: "My father is helping us release negative feelings through storytelling, puppet shows and drawing”

Photo: War Child

The Future

How does she see the future? “Before, we lived in the middle of the city so I could develop my skills in computer programming at a nearby training institution. Now: Who knows?

“All that I think about currently is safety. I miss the apartment, my friends; and yearn to live a calm life again.” She smiles and pauses before adding: “But I love programming. Maybe one day I will make a career out of it.”