Give to Gaza
Beneath the headlines and statistics are stories of hope and survival. Here, Patrick Abboud recounts the courageous journey of one resilient Gazan resident.
I’ve been on holidays for the past couple of weeks on a remote island off the coast of Croatia. The trip came with a self-imposed digital detox. No phone, no email, no Facebook, no Twitter, no internet – nothing to connect me to anywhere other than where I was ‘living in the moment’.
The greatest thing about that exercise was the reminder to achieve a better work-life balance when I come home.
The worst thing was plugging back into the interwebs to see the horror that is destroying Gaza – a place where, right now, every living moment could be your last.
On several trips I’ve made to the region in my work as a journo, I’ve been given the privilege of sharing incredible stories of strength and courage of the Palestinian people of the Gaza strip and the West Bank in their daily struggle to live under Israeli military occupation.
This isn’t something I’d normally write about in this forum but in the last 48 hours since I’ve come back to Australia it’s the only thing I can think about. For three weeks now, innocent civilians have been under siege because of intense fighting between a brutal Israeli army and Hamas, the Islamist group that dominates Gaza.
Some 300,000 Palestinians have been displaced. More than 1300 have been killed – many of those women and children. At least 6500 injured. Around 50 families have been annihilated, their homes bombed with them inside.
This is beyond war. It’s genocide – a very real massacre and it’s cripplingly sad.
There’s a stream of daily news that will explain to you why this conflict exists and who’s to blame. I’m not going to use this space to rant, to give you some clever analysis or even my opinion; I’m simply going to share with you just one Gazan’s story that will hopefully inspire you to help.
For the third time in his life, Raed has to tell his eight kids they no longer have a home.
Above: Help Gaza resident and father of eight, Raed, build a new home
Raed is a fixer in Gaza (a producer that assists foreign journalists when working on the ground). He’s seen the worst of what happens in Gaza.
Raed is from the village of Beit Hanoun. In 2006, 17 of his relatives were killed when their home was shelled and destroyed. In the 2008/2009 Gaza war, his new house and his car were totally destroyed.
These past few weeks have been incredibly tough on the family.
Trapped in their home as shelling fell around them, Raed and his family finally managed to escape walking five hours into Gaza city to shelter at his sister's house.
A few days later during the few hours of ceasefire, he returned to Beit Hanoun and his worst fears were confirmed. His house had once again been very badly demolished – almost half of it gone; his elderly and sick parent’s house completely destroyed; his brother Wael’s house, totally gone. The house of his eldest daughter Raneen and her husband – totally destroyed.
Raed is a friend. He’s just like you and me. He loves life. He’s witty, street smart, enjoys good food. Most of all, Raed is whole-heartedly loving with an enormous generosity of spirit.
All he wants is to be able to tell his kids they will be safe.
If you’re feeling as futile as I am from afar – there is something you can do.
A dear colleague of mine, the wonderful Sophie McNeill, has set up a fundraising campaign to help Raed build a new house and believe me he will – no matter how many times the Israeli military blow his families homes to shreds, he’ll keep re-building because he believes the day will come when he can indeed tell his kids, “Everything is gonna be okay”.
Let’s help him get there. Head to www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-roof-for-raed.
By helping Raed we’re actually helping hundreds, thousands even, because that’s what people do in Palestine. That’s all they’ve got – each other.
Here’s a list of other places you can donate that will channel assistance directly to the people of Gaza: