A former fisherman, al-Jojo perfectly knows the kind of struggles his fellow fishermen face on a daily basis. With numerous Israeli military boats circulating close to the Gaza coast, going out to sea is a great risk.
In his younger years, Tawfiq al-Jojo, now 75, was a fisherman.
Now, restricted by age and the hardship of fishing in Gaza’s sea, the Palestinian refugee designs boat models. And he is very good at his new job.
Al-Jojo was born in 1948, the very year that the majority of Palestinians became refugees, an event etched in collective Palestinian memory as the Nakba. He has been a refugee ever since, now living in the Shati, or Beach Refugee Camp.
His passion for boat models helped him survive mentally under the harshest of conditions, living in a refugee camp is one of them.
Protracted Israeli military curfews, wars, and the siege require the kind of mental toughness that a few possess. Al-Jojo, like most Gazans, has learned to be resilient.
So every day, al-Jojo sets with basic tools: a small scalpel, paint brushes, and plastic figures to realistically reproduce fishing boats.
Al-Jojo told The Palestine Chronicle that creating boat models is a way to convey true stories related to Palestinian fishermen. For example, the story of Rami Bakr, who drowned at the Egyptian border and was found dead, on May 23, after being missing for nearly a week.
A former fisherman, al-Jojo perfectly knows the kind of struggles his fellow fishermen face on a daily basis. With numerous Israeli military boats circulating close to the Gaza coast, going out to sea is a great risk. Many fishermen have been injured, drowned, or detained in their desperate attempt to provide for their families.
Al-Jojo told The Palestine Chronicle that, since Israel imposed a hermetic siege on Gaza in 2006, fishermen face a lack of basic equipment, and they struggle to survive.
“As an occupied people, we Palestinians must activate all our tools to deliver our message to the world,” al-Jojo said.
“We are living people, we love life, and we just seek a secure, stable, and dignified future,” he said.
“We just want to be free.”
(All Photos: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)