Friday, March 9, 2012

Hamed, 12 Year-old Communications Specialist

Why is my friend not calling me, as he said he would to make plans for the day, I wonder? I look at my new mobile phone - tho one I picked up from the dusty little store on Remel Street the other day, and a message pops up, "insert SIM card". Must mean that it's time to find a shop where I can top-up my Jawal cell phone account. As it's the holiday Friday afternoon in Gaza, I'm hoping I can find someplace which is now open. At 3PM, the shutters on all the shops along the main commercial street in Gaza City were still all closed. Walking aimlessly, I noticed one grocery store was slowly opening for business. He points to the computer and then points to the unlit ceiling lights, and shakes his head. By now I am familiar enough with the erratic power supply that I know he is telling me that there is another power outage and he thus can't power up his laptop to in turn reload my cell phone. I nod understandingly, walk out the door and flag down a cab to take me back to my room.

I ask the taxi driver if he might know where to find a shop to recharge my mobile phone. He takes me to a small market. A few boys seem to run the establishment. The chief executive officer is a savvy 12 year old sitting at the front desk with a lap top. As the power has not been restored to boot up his computer, he cannot readily transfer 20 shekels worth of time to my phone.

The little CEO will not be stymied by this fuel crisis, and within moments the entire neighborhood has jumped into action. It's time to do what all Gazans who can afford it do in such circumstances: turn on their own generator to provide electricity to power the computer, which then digitally tops up my phone. The whole process is a somewhat odd, but remarkably effective blend of old and new technology - a small, noisy diesel powered generator powers a computer that wirelessly transfers funds to my mobile phone. This innovative Rube Goldberg contraption works brilliantly.

In face of the catastrophic blockade that's responsible for the humanitarian crisis here - 12 Palestinians were killed in air strikes today - the irrepressible Palestinian spirit again finds a way to resist the occupation. The electricity may be cut off, but their resilience is merely emboldened by inventiveness fueled by an enduring quest for justice and self-determination.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for this post, i wish i could meet this CEO, child executive officer