12 February 2024
A vigil for children in Gaza was held by more than 100 people on Sea Point promenade on Saturday evening.
More than 12,000 children have been killed in Gaza since last year, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
School shoes were laid out on the promenade along with photographs of some of the children killed in Gaza.
The Sole of our Souls vigil was organised by South African Health Care Workers For Palestine and the Gift of the Givers.
Dr Emma Keelan, a volunteer with Physicians for Human Rights, who has been working in mobile clinics in the West Bank since 2009, said access to healthcare had become increasingly difficult in the last few months due to settler attacks, and they have to set up makeshift clinics.
“People are being examined on tables that are pushed together. It’s very much just trying to put a plaster over a gaping wound,” she said.
Keelan, who is from Northern Ireland, said healthcare workers in Northern Ireland see South Africa as an inspiration.
“We all take the same oath … We take that oath for communities everywhere … We should be more involved with the health of communities across the globe and we should be caring more.”
Ali Sablay, Gift of the Givers project manager, said their team in Gaza was appreciative of the event. “They thank you for the awareness we are creating in this country.”
There were similar vigils in Johannesburg, Durban and Gqeberha on the weekend.
The events were also to raise money for shoes for school children across South Africa.
Sablay said that over a million rand had been raised for school shoes.
“When we look at South African children … kids don’t have access to school shoes and basic clean water and sanitation,” said paediatrician Dr Samah El-Boraei, based in Cape Town.
She said they were collecting school shoes for learners in South Africa in honour of the children in Gaza who can’t attend school this year. “We hope that their spirit will live on in South African children and give them a bit of dignity.”