Teen Brings Light to Gaza

02/09/2024
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    Displaced Palestinian teenager Hussam Al-Attar examines his wind turbines. They provide electricity for his family’s tent in Rafah, a city in the Gaza Strip. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
  • T2 GAZA NEWTON ZQCIR Reuters
    Hussam adjusts the fans that furnish light for his family. People call Hussam “Gaza’s Newton.” (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
  • T3 GAZA NEWTON AE600 K Reuters
    Hussam smiles at a friend. The UN reports that more than 1.9 million of Gaza’s 2.2 million people have been displaced. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
  • T1 GAZA T7 XV7 Reuters
  • T2 GAZA NEWTON ZQCIR Reuters
  • T3 GAZA NEWTON AE600 K Reuters

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Hussam Al-Attar scrambles onto a metal roof to check the fans he picked up from a scrap market. One fan sits above the other, and both spin in the wind. The resourceful 15-year-old connected the small turbines to wire. They generate electricity for his family’s tent in Gaza.

Hussam is among more than 1.9 million people who have been displaced by war in his area. The conflict began when Palestinian Islamist group Hamas invaded southern Israel on October 7.

People call Hussam “Gaza’s Newton.” He looks and sounds younger than his 15 years, but he smiles when he hears his nickname.

English scientist Isaac Newton is known for his brilliance in math, physics, and astronomy. The story goes that around 1666, he watched an apple fall from a tree. He thought about why the apple fell straight down instead of sideways or upward. He identified the phenomenon as gravity and recognized that force is what keeps the planets in their orbits.

Hussam has a similarly inquisitive and eager mind. He says he and his family fled from their home in northern Gaza to Rafah. They spent 20 days living in a tent with no light. He observes, “We here are living in darkness and tragedy, and rockets are falling on us, therefore I thought of creating light, and did so.”

More than half of Gaza’s population is packed into Rafah. The city is at the southern tip of Gaza and borders Egypt.

The Al-Attar family attached their tent to a one-story house. Hussam rigged a fan on the house roof and extended wires into the tent. His first effort failed. A second try generated weak electricity. He added a second fan and achieved success. Switches and bulbs now enable his family to see inside their temporary home.

Hussam is relieved he was able to ease his family’s suffering. He is concerned about the hardships others endure around him.

“I am very happy that people in this camp call me Gaza’s Newton,” he says, “because I hope to achieve my dream of becoming a scientist like Newton and creating an invention that will benefit not only the people of the Gaza Strip but the whole world.”

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. — 1 Peter 4:10