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Testimony: Imprisoned in Gaza, Mayada Mhana cannot complete her media studies in Cairo, July 2008 

Mayada Mhana, Student

Mayada Mhana

I am working temporarily as a teaching assistant at the Islamic University in the city. In 2003, I obtained a BA in press and media studies from the same university. After graduating, I worked at various temporary jobs. From 2004 to 2006, I studied for an MA in a university in Cairo.

In February 2007, I returned to Gaza to do field research for my thesis, which is on women in the Palestinian media. I got a job for two months at the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, and after that I got the position I am working at now. I work eight hours a week and earn six Jordanian dinars an hour (approximately nine dollars). In the meantime, the situation in Gaza has deteriorated more and more, and Rafah Crossing, by the Egyptian border, is now closed.

Now I can't travel to Egypt to complete my degree, which is very frustrating. I'm cut off from the university and can't be in proper touch with my supervisor, which makes it hard to write the thesis. Since I can't make progress with the writing, I decided to focus on the teaching, hoping I could get to Egypt once the situation improved. But now they've asked me at the Islamic University to decide whether I want to keep the teaching position or go back to study in Egypt. I don't know what to do. I'm afraid I may choose to stay on and then the crossing will be reopened.

On 1 July, Rafah Crossing opened for two days. I went there with my sister, Hanadi, 23, who was registered in the MA program at the Arab Research Institute in Egypt. When we were about three kilometers from the crossing, the Palestinian police made us wait so that people could pass in an orderly manner.  There were hundreds of persons, and it was very crowded standing there.

We stood in the sun for three hours. Finally, we got through the Rafah Crossing but couldn't enter Egypt because there were so many people. We waited there until noon the next day. Around 1:00 P.M., people began to push toward the crossing. My sister and I couldn't handle the situation and decided to return to Gaza.

I am waiting for the crossing to open again, so that I can go to Gaza in a dignified way. My family is supporting me financially because my salary is hardly enough for anything. I'm very frustrated about that. My plan was to study and then earn a high wage so that I could support my family, and not the other way around.

Mayada Mahmoud 'Abd al-Wahab Mhana, 27, is a teaching assistant at the Islamic University in Gaza and a resident of Gaza City. Her testimony was given to Khaled 'Azayzeh at the witness's home on 27 July 2008 .