It was the month of September in the late 1990s. Razan Al-Najjar, a courageous little girl, was born in the crowded and severely policed Palestinian region of Gaza. She was to be the eldest of six siblings, growing up in the midst of a tense struggle between two countries: Palestine and Israel.
In her lifetime, Razan witnessed three battles against her motherland, during which thousands of her people were killed and many more were injured. The skies were filled with bombs and shrapnel. Buildings were crumbling into dust, and no one felt safe. When Razan was sixteen, the battle hit close to home, and her own neighbourhood was destroyed. Her father’s shop was also devastated by an air attack, leaving him out of work.
Razan, on the other hand, was fearless and defiant. She was adamant about assisting her people.
Razan wanted to be a nurse but couldn’t afford the training since she didn’t have enough money. In her heart, she hoped that one day she would figure things out, but in the meanwhile, she learned to be a paramedic. Razan worked long days and late nights at the hospital for two years. She cared for patients, aided the sick and old, and bandaged the injured.
Razan went right to work after finishing her schooling. She donned a white coat and volunteered to assist the injured on the front lines of Palestinian protests. Many Palestinians had been exiled from their homes in 1948, and the Great March of Return in 2018 was considered as their chance to make their voices known once more. But, with tensions so high between Israel and Palestine, the rallies were not always peaceful – so Razan placed her life in danger by wearing her white coat like a cape and assisting people injured in the mayhem.
Razan, like a genuine physician, always placed others first. She risked her life time and again to care for the injured in the midst of gunshots, tear gas, and chants for change. Razan bravely returned to care for her people after being injured. ‘Being a medic is not just a man’s profession,’ she once stated. ‘It’s for women too!’
The young paramedic fiercely believed that people had to accept women, not judge them and that they had more strength than any man. After seeing so many wars, she told the world that without weapons people could achieve anything. Her courage in times of conflict showed everybody what women were really capable of. They too could raise their voices and make a change.
Razan was killed in action on a Friday in Ramadan, a special day for Muslims. She died doing what she loved most, helping her people in their time of need. After her death, Razan’s sister and mother were bold and defiant too. On the last day of the protests, they joined volunteer medics and helped tend to the wounded in her honour. Even after her death, Razan continues to inspire the world she left behind.
— Khadeeja Khurram, LSU Volunteer