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Virtual Reality’s New Frontier: Peacekeeping, Iraq War Therapy, and Digital Paradises

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Virtual Reality’s New Frontier: Peacekeeping, Iraq War Therapy, and Digital Paradises

By Aja Romano

I’m standing in a modest but tidy kitchen. This could be anywhere in the world, but its window overlooks the bombed-out hull of a Gaza neighborhood that was demolished during the 2014 Israeli airstrikes on Palestine.

“My name is Om Osama,” says my host, a solemn Palestinian woman. She’s in her late 30s and wizened; she runs her household without any signs of fatigue, despite having several children and another on the way. Around me are the signs of a life struggling to flourish, to maintain beauty and order amid destruction.

Om takes me on a tour of her daily life in Palestine. I meet her husband and children, ride around in the husband’s taxi, watch the kids play on the carousel. I watch Om fold laundry and go through the weary steps of preparing to give birth while dealing with the loss of two of her children in the 2014 airstrikes, when Israeli forces bombed several United Nations schools. She meets with a support group of other women who also lost children in the conflict.

I watch her begin and end her day with her family, praying that no one will ever have to experience her own levels of loss and devastation. I’m able to do everything but reach out and touch.

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