After nearly 60 years of statehood, and three decades of battling for recognition of the village of Ein Hud, local council head Mohammed Abu al-Hija's home was connected Monday to the national electric grid.
Nadia Abu al-Hija, 18, remembered Monday how she used to get dizzy from the smell of kerosene from the oil lamp she used to read by when she was preparing for her matriculation exams. "I would study late into the night, and there was no electricity at that time, because they turned off the generator at night, so I had to turn on the oil lamp so I could continue studying," she said.
For years, essentially all her life, Nadia and other Ein Hud teenagers lived with generators. A couple of hours a day and a few hours during the evening. What is taken for granted by most children in Israel is still a dream for children in Ein Hud: Internet and computer games, watching children's TV shows in the morning or just having cold water in the refrigerator to quench the thirst of summer heat. For kids in Ein Hud, it's still a fantasy.
"We watched the news and shows for adults in the evening. In the morning we do not run the generators, saving kerosene for the evening when it's dark," Wiham, 13, said Monday.
For years the women in the village did their laundry by hand, the children traveled to relatives in nearby villages to do homework on computers, and the refrigerators stood idle and empty in village kitchens.
"Why did I have to fight 30 years for light in my house?" said Abu al-Hija.
"Thirty years. I gave up many things for this light. I am also a human being, and I am excited," he said with tears rolling down his cheeks.
"It is shameful for the state. An insult. There is still a long way to go, and I hope the entire village will now have electricity. And the transportation and [national] infrastructures ministries should now pave an access road to the village," he added.
Indeed, the road of development for Ein Hud has been a long and winding one. The road to the village, which lies in the heart of the Carmel Park, is in tatters. A few kilometers of the road is made of cement, which the villagers poured themselves. It is a village without infrastructure, without building permits, without basic services.
When the local authority issues building permits for homes in the village, they too will be linked to the electric grid. Many of the villagers do not expect this to happen any time soon.
"At most we will take electricity from him [referring to the home of Abu al-Hija]. We are all one big family," Samir Abu al-Hija said.
Mohammed Abu al-Hija's wife was given the honor of turning on the electricity in their home. This was in recognition of her years of hardship, the hours he spent in the various government offices trying to make this happen.
"I don't know what to do now. I don't know what it's like to live with electricity," she said. "I will turn it on and off. I will keep the lights on all night," she said, with girlish excitement.
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