This real life story sounds like a favorite children's book. Known as “the colorful neighborhood,” Gaza's Al Zaytoun is painted in cheerful tones.
Mohammed Al Saedi is our story's artist, a man of vision and inspiration, who began the project in his home earlier this year. With the help of volunteers, colors spilled into the streets until 30 nearby houses were decorated. The walls of Al Zaytoun are covered with vertical gardens in bright frames, murals of sunset boat rides, and illustrations of creeping vines that curl around building corners.
Al Jazeera reports that families have begun planting urban gardens with argula, eggplant, tomatoes, and watermelon adding hues of green, red, and purple to the urban rainbow.
Al Saedi described his motivation, saying:
Wars create devastation, coupled with the effects of the siege, nerves are frayed resulting in long term psychological suffering. So I wanted to create a serene atmosphere full of flowers and colors in an attempt to heal the suffering and psychological affects of the siege. From the stones of destruction, God willing, we will build gardens and basins full of flowers and soothing colors.
Global Voices’ coverage of the 50-day war between Israel and Gaza in July and August 2014 reported that an estimated 40 per cent of Gaza's urban areas were destroyed, including 96,000 homes.
Al Zaytoun's restoration was funded by the Tamer Institute for Community Education, headquartered in Ramallah, Palestine. According to their website, the NGO works in Gaza and the West Bank, promoting cultural renewal projects, literacy, and healthy childhood development through creative expression.
Neighborhood residents, Maram and Asmaa Haddad, ages 9 and 10, add:
We felt very happy when they painted the neighborhood. It has become very beautiful and when we play in it, we feel joy, not like before.