“I knew about Malta before I came here,” says Rasha El-Nahhal, a 25-year-old girl from Rafah, a city in the South of Gaza.
“My aunt Sanaa, who lives in Malta, used to tell me about Malta and how much the Maltese support the Palestinian cause. I grew to love the Maltese from afar. Then when my aunt invited me to come to Malta and I met the Maltese, I grew to love them even more,” she says.
Having graduated in English language and literature from Gaza University, Rasha was invited by her aunt to come to Malta so that she could improve her spoken English.
“I was so happy when my aunt invited me to Malta – apart from improving my English, it was also an opportunity to visit a new country and learn about a different culture. I prepared everything very quickly and came to Malta.”
Rasha has now been in Malta for more than a year yet she is aware of the ongoing tensions in Palestine. “I feel very sad when I see what is happening in Gaza. But I want to be strong for my country. I want to be alive and that is what makes me strong,” she says.
Nathalie Grima, a close friend of Rasha and of her aunt Sanaa, says that Rasha is a very determined girl. “She is a very positive girl,” Nathalie says. “She is so full of life and that helped her to integrate very quickly.”
“My parents did everything they could so that my brothers, sisters and I could be safe,” says Rasha, who has three sisters and two brothers. “My relatives also give me a lot of encouragement. Also, the experience of living in Gaza alone with my cousin for four years, until I completed my studies, made me stronger,” she says.
“If you want, you can do anything. If you want to make your future, and if you are prepared to suffer for it, then you can achieve whatever you want.”
Basbousa – Basbousa, meaning one kiss, is a traditional Palestinian sweet.
Ingredients: 5 eggs; 125gr sugar; 125gr flour; 125gr milk; 125gr semolina; 1 tbs baking powder; Vanilla; 125gr grated coconut.
Method: Whisk the sugar with the eggs until they turn creamy. Then add the flour and whisk. Add the milk and semolina, and then continue whisking until everything is well combined. Add the vanilla together with one spoon of baking powder and mix well. Finally, add the grated coconut and mix well. Leave it all to rest for 30 minutes and then bake at 180°C for approximately 30 minutes. Make a syrup with 125gr of sugar, 190gr of water and some lemon juice. Pour the syrup over the basbousa when it is still hot. Leave the basbousa to absorb all the syrup before serving.
This interview was included in the publication Interact - a portrait of third-country nationals in Malta, published as part of the media interact project (If 2010 02) and distributed with The Times. They are based on the tv programme Minn Lenti Interkulturali, produced/presented by Maria Muscat (PBS), and directed/edited by Godfrey Smith (PBS) and broadcast on Education22/Tvm2 and Tvm between January and March, 2012 and on Tvm between april and june, 2012. The project is co-financed through the European fund for the integration of third-country nationals. The project is led by SOS malta, in partnership with the Public Broadcasting Services and the Institute of Maltese Journalists.
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