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Marzouka stands in the rubble in Gaza

To help older people impacted by the conflict in Gaza, we have set up a day centre in Gaza City where older people can spend time together, receive counselling, share meals and learn to read and write.

We're also busy distributing food vouchers and emergency hygiene kits to some of the most vulnerable older people - providing a little relief for those who have lost everything. 

'This is a good place. I come here to forget my suffering'

An older man smiles inside our Gaza safe space

The stories of the older people that visit our safe space in Gaza City are heart-breaking; bombed out of their homes, forced to share crowded accommodation with other families; and rapidly running out of both food and money. Like the other 106,000 people displaced by the conflict, they do not know when they will be able to go back home.

They all have skills - they are plumbers, heating engineers, teachers. But many cannot read or write and they have lost everything. They fled their homes in what they were wearing. As well as being cold, homeless and short of food, they tell us they feel isolated and depressed.

Our day centre in Gaza City represents a kind of home. It is a place of stability and support, a safe space where older men and women can gather together and begin to recover from the traumas they have experienced.  

Learning to read in Gaza

'This is a good place,' 69-year-old Anwar explains. 'My home was demolished. I come here to forget about my home and my suffering. I take fresh air, enjoy my time.'

'They give me classes as I cannot read or write. Mrs Lena teaches me. Each Thursday she gives me a course in how to read, how to write, what the letters are.'

Monzer El Masri, the project coordinator explains how the centre runs counselling sessions every week - both for individuals and people in groups.

'We have a lot of social activities, like celebrating people's birthdays, going to parks on trips, providing hot meals,' he says. 'We have a young volunteer who comes in and teaches people how to make pottery. We work with the older people to decide what activities they need.'

Outside our safe space in Gaza City

The facilities, the house and garden, seem like an oasis after the destruction and rubble all across the Gaza Strip.

'When we came here we thought, "We have our place",' says 63-year-old Abu. 'We are still alive. The centre provides meals, exercise equipment, literacy classes and poetry classes. We love going to the city parks. It's a beacon of hope.'    

Now we can go to a supermarket and choose the food

Marzouka feeds her goats in Gaza

As well as providing a safe space for older people to meet, we are also providing them with food vouchers: a vital lifeline for those who have nothing.

This is not the first time Marzouka Musleh has fled from conflict. In 1948, when she was 10 years old, she left Beersheba during the conflict between Israel and Egypt. Now, aged 77, her home in Gaza has also been destroyed.

'I was very relieved to receive the food voucher from you,' Marzouka says. 'It meant I could go to a supermarket and choose the food we needed rather than just have food given to us.'

Adbed stands in the rubble in Gaza

80-year-old Abed has severe hearing problems, high blood pressure, arthritis in both knees and a dialysis catheter in his heart. One of his grandchildren was killed in the conflict.

We gave him a walking cane and food vouchers for him and his family.

'We literally had nothing,' he says. 'We lost everything so the food vouchers were a life-saver. I'd lost my walking cane as well, so it definitely helped.'    

What’s in an emergency pack?

We’re distributing several types of emergency packs in Gaza, as well as mobility aids like wheelchairs and walking sticks.

Graphic showing the contents of an Age International emergency kit in Gaza

Whilst other organisations run general emergency relief efforts providing items like food and water, we are the only organisation providing specialist "age-friendly" aid.

Find out more about age friendly emergency relief >

So as well as containing essential items that the whole family can use, such as soap, toothpaste and washing powder, our emergency packs also contain things that some older people desperately need but struggle to get hold of, like incontinence pads. These items not only meet a physical need, but also help to restore their dignity.

You can help us to be there for older people.

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Disaster can strike at any time. Your donation will help us to be there for older people, as soon as possible.

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