Campaign News

$40M Donated From Qatar’s Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Towards Gaza…

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar (MOFA) signed an agreement to donate 40 million USD from the Qatar Development Fund to support Education Above All’s Al Fakhoora programme. The funds will be used to rebuild and re-equip damaged schools and university buildings, as well as to provide international scholarships for students who wish to pursue studies in disciplines which respond to Gaza’s needs. The fund will also support training programmes for professionals in both education and health sector. In effect, the agreement will more than double the number the students who are able to benefit from Al Fakhoora scholarships to complete their higher education.

Post-2015 Unfinished Agenda @WISE2014

Under the theme of "Imagine-Create-Learn: Creativity at the Heart of Education", WISE 2014 has been set off and closed after 3 days of debating and networking on the issue of the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals Unfinished Agenda, with promising outcomes to the 58 million out of school children. Al Fakhoora, alongside its sister organizations under Education Above All Foundation, has contributed to driving the agenda forward through hosting 3 interactive sessions that were held in the EAA Village.

Hassan Mustafa, A Medicine Student And A True Advocate

The recent month-long war on Gaza has had a devastating impact on Palestinian students, who are still struggling to return to their daily lives. However, some remain steadfast with their education, and their dreams of contributing to society.

'Stronger Than Words': Deaf Community Of Gaza

Last month, Al Jazeera Media Network and Qatar Charity collaborated on a forum that focuses on the Arab World's deaf community as well as the challenges the community faces, with a special focus on Gaza as a case study.
The forum, which was composed of four sessions, was held on September 22, in order to mark the International Week of the Deaf, which is annually celebrated on the last week of September. The forum was kicked off with a 10-minute trailer of an hour-long documentary that Al-Jazeera hadn’t aired at the time. The trailer’s title is ‘Stronger than Words,’ and the documentary explores the daily lives of the deaf community in Gaza. The documentary was done before the latest Israeli offensive on Gaza in the summer. Statistically, the film reveals the existence of 15,000 deaf people across the entire Gaza strip. Furthermore, the film showcases the daily lives of the deaf community in Gaza, and their perseverance to have access to and continue their education despite their disability.
The first session has been marked by a special guest- Dr. Paul Larudee- founder of the Free Gaza Movement and Free Palestine Movement. Larudee, who helped stop an Israeli boat from docking at Oakland Port in California during the most recent atrocities on Gaza, explained: “I don’t believe in impossible. The word has changed the meaning for me!”  Lastly, he called on Americans to change and speak up for oppressed Palestinians, and to be aware of the United States economic and political actions in the Middle East.

Al Fakhoora Students To Compete In Qatar Debates

Within the course of Empowerment and Skilling dimensions of Al Fakhoora Dynamic Futures, 30 Al Fakhoora students achieved, during September, two debate training courses that aimed at improving their skills in the art of debating in Arabic language.
The program, which is organized by Palestine University- Qatar Debates’ partner in the Gaza Strip, aims to promote debating in Arabic to the Gaza youth to be articulate young leaders who can stand up in negotiations, discussions and arguments, which is a substantial competency for advocacy and for the investment in, creation and development of future leaders.
As Al Fakhoora students showed a notable performance, Qatar Debates acknowledged Al Fakhoora Team as an independent team, to participate in the Third International Universities Arabic Debating Championship, to be held in Doha in April 2015.

Social Media For Social Good: An Outcome Of The Social Good Summit

Advocating for Gaza Reconstruction and Development, Al Fakhoora students called on for innovative approaches using technology and social media, during a meetup over the Gazan rubbles in the aftermath of the 51-day Israeli Military Offensive on the Gaza Strip during the summer. 
Six students sent messages to Social Good Summit, which was held in New York on September 22nd, bringing the world's most innovative-thought leaders to discuss solutions for the world's development problems and to set the new agenda for 2030 Global Development Vision.

With Education, We Can Change The Future

Fahmi and Moemen Abu Lebda, 22- a twin that live in Maghazi Camp in the Middle of Gaza Strip, come from a family of 15 other members in the household, who all suffer from a severe hardship case as identified by the UNDP’s Deprived Families Economic Empowerment Program (DEEP).

In 2010, UNDP-Fakhoora granted the family a project of “Renting Chair and Wedding Equipment”- a small project that enables families to generate monthly income that ranges between $ 250 to $ 350 and more, depending on some seasonable events. As Fakhoora's Dynamic Future program emerged, both brothers benefited from the program- with Fahmi joining the Islamic Law school in the Islamic University and Moemen joining the Social Sciences program in the same university.

The year of 2013 was carrying a new hope for the family with both the graduates of Fahmi and Moemen. Both started an Internship program that supported mentoring and coaching of Dynamic Future’s partners, and have started their way to their future career path. However, 2014 was yet to come with the Israeli military attacks on Gaza, and Maghazi camp was one of the Eastern border camps that received heavy tanks' shelling, as several houses were exploded by direct bombardment methods.

Abu Lebdas’s neighbor dwelling was attacked, causing a full destruction to Abu Lebda's family simple household- which is made from asbestos. The house fully collapsed and destroyed the family business with it. Fahmi says: “We experienced such hard times during the last months; the war on Gaza was a horrible event that carried with it death and fear every single day. We escaped our house as random bombing increased; on the second day of Eid Al Fitr, we heard the house fully collapse during the bombing of our neighbor’s house. As we went back, it was a mere shock for the whole family. We lost our memories, furniture and our business- everything!”

Fahmi adds: “As you know, there so limited work in Gaza! Since my twin brother and I graduated, we tried to develop the business, and I managed it with my brother to create a decent income for the family. Now, we are in a serious suffering and I am trying to do my best, exploiting my university qualifications- thanks to Al Fakhoora, to find a good source of income. Simultaneously, we will try to find resources to rebuild the business even though the process is so challenging!”

He further adds: “It’s not easy to lose your home, especially a home that's consistent of 6 kids in the house, nieces and nephews; I lost all my law books, all my great times with my family. Now, we are staying in a rent house in the same neighborhood. With our education, we have the power to make change for the future!”. That said, it is attained that hope is practiced throughout the virtue of patience, which continues to thrive in the pursuit of education for all the Gazan youth.

Facing Fear ...

After the end of the Israeli military's offensive Operation Protective Edge on the Gaza Strip, many students have been stuggling with personal trauma and are finding it difficult to pick up the pieces. For some students, even resuming their education won't be easy!
Asem Abu Owda, a 20-year-old Fakhoora student, is one of many Palestinians who was displaced during Israel’s military operations, which began on July 8th, and ended on August 26th. Abu Owda says that after Israel launched its ground invasion during the early days of the military operation, a group of Israeli soldiers broke into his family’s house to take cover. “A phalanx of twenty personnel from the Israeli Special Forces broke into the house to take cover; we stood motionless to watch what next orders or actions these guys would make as few men had forcefully taken my dad aside for an apparent investigation.”
Abu Owda adds that he feared for his father, who suffers from diabetes and hypertension. “The thought of his death due to a stroke was strikingly hitting in my head at that time, as his face went significantly pale and we had to bring him water and therefore he had to break his fast. My dad, out of worry for his offspring and wife, was nice to the soldiers in hope they would let go of us, but that didn’t stop them from exaggeratingly misusing the house for their convenience and leaving unnecessary damages as soon as we got back to see it during the latest temporary ceasefire,” he says.
Eventually, Abu Owda and his family decided to leave their home and go to a safer place. Before leaving though, Abu Owda and his older brother, Abdullah, asked the Israeli soldiers if they could coordinate with their operation control center to arrange for an ambulance to get them and their old mother out. Their request was turned down. “Donny, the soldier whom I still remember- as his name has been called out in front of us, “regretfully” declined the request,” he says. The brothers helped their mother leave the house, and eventually made it to their sister’s.
However, a few days later, Abu Owda and his family received a phone call and were told to leave their sister’s house. An ambulance took them to a United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) school in Jabalia, near Beit Hanoun. Even there, Abu Owda’s situation did not improve. “Seeking shelter in a UN school is as nasty and horrible as living in a tent on an outrageously rainy day, where you’d suffer massively. There is a great scarcity in water resources, and when water supply pipes are available (on an average of 3 hours per day most of the time), everybody would be there fighting for their possible share. It’s not only a humiliating way of life but also an unhealthy one, for so many reasons including the fact that the cleanliness of bathrooms is very poor, as 1500 people utilize those restrooms every day,” he says.
Abu Owda and his family still live in the school, and have not returned to their home, as this is mainly because of the damages it bolstered. “Our house in Beit Hanoun is no longer suitable for humans—inside are possessions messily misplaced and broken, projectiles piercing the walls, no one single window is still intact; our house is literally in “ruins” in a “good shaped” exterior.”
In addition, Abu Owda added that he is psychologically abused as he doesn’t know when he will restore the motivation and energy that he needs to move forward in his education. “Life as a university student is not an easy job in Gaza; it needs a lot of hard work and a great deal of simultaneous commitment and calmness, which I now don’t have.  However, I will try to get back on track and my dream to be a successful businessman will always live on,” he says.
Abu Owda added a special appeal to students all around the world. "I appeal to all free students all over the world to stand with us because we all share mutual future plans and ambitions in completeing university and our right to education to get decent degrees and make a living for our families," he says. Abu Owda further has a message to Donny, the Israeli soldier he encountered during the military operations. "Donny, if you can read this, I hope you don't accept the medal of courage they'll probably give you when war is completely over. I hope you take a few minutes to think of what you, with the help of people like you, did to us and other families. I hope your weapons will never meet us again and I hope you know too well we won't forgive you- not that you even would ever care."

The Fifty-One Day War

Israel’s recent offensives on Gaza has had a devastating effect on the population, including young students, who have always struggled to complete their education under Israel’s air and sea blockade of the tiny strip.
Ahmad Noor, a 20-year-old student, studied tirelessly to continue on to higher education and to contribute to his country and society. His hard work paid off in 2011, when he got accepted into medical school. Sadly, Israel’s ongoing blockade on Gaza makes it difficult for students to complete their studies with the proper resources, such as books or equipment.
The latest offensive Operation Protective Edge on Gaza occurred during the Islamic Holy month of Ramadan, where practicing Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to sunset. On the twentieth of July, Ahmad’s family gathered with his uncle’s family to break their fasting in Shuja’iyya, a neighborhood in Gaza that witnessed heavy shelling on that same day. Ahmad’s neighborhood had been blocked and closed out, thus preventing ambulances from rescuing civilians. “No one was picking up ever since we knew ambulance vehicles could not have access to rescue civilians, and the neighborhood at that moment had been marked as a closed military area in which every mobile and moving object were prone to deadly strikes,” he says. To pass time, Ahmad and his relatives read the Quran, and repeatedly tried to call an ambulance several times.
At 6 A.M., some of the residents in Ahmad’s neighborhood started to leave in groups. “We also decided to leave with them and to rely solely on God. My eyes were then set open to witness events I have never come to imagine even for once in my lifetime—all the ‘damar’ [ruins] in such a short interval of time, and the large number of women, children and men stacking to form one human streak in an attempt to escape altogether,” he says. He adds that as he and his family walked through the streets, they were greeted with the sight of corpses. Ahmad and his family eventually went to stay at another relative’s house. He says that he later went to Al-Shifa Hospital to check on some of his wounded friends, who also happen to live in the same neighborhood as he does.
A few days later, while waiting for the call to prayer at a mosque, Ahmad found out that his cousin has passed away. “I couldn’t hold it inside and I started to cry like a baby, then headed to the cemetery in a hurry to have a final look at the body. I said goodbye, kissed him on the forehead and prayed for him to be accommodated as a martyr in Paradise.”
Ahmad says he wishes he had never witnessed the horrific series of events that occurred on that particular night in his neighborhood, and adds that he would tell his future children about it someday. It is indeed difficult but inspiring, having to learn patience from those victims living in such difficult conflict/ post-conflict situations where even recovery takes place at a slow pace due to such massive blockade. 

The Story Of A Gazan Dad

The moment when your 10- month old baby is getting shocked of massive bombardment, the time when you see his cute little face reflecting deep horror while you can do almost nothing, is the worst time ever!

Watching scenes of children whose heads are blown up, seeing children bleeding, and thinking that you can be in their shoes at any moment, that’s something that cannot be easily expressed. 

I am from Gaza, I live in Rimal, which is the center of Gaza city. Managing a family of 12, which includes my parents, 5 sisters, wife, and three kids is such an overwhelming responsibility in an unusual place- that faces deep poverty, high unemployment, limited access of movement, inappropriate health facilities and system, and scarcity of power and water resources. It leaves a person with daily concerns of what can be done to maintain a dignified livelihood. 
Starting on 7th of July, Gaza witnessed a series of rapid events of bombardment and shelling. This was somehow expected with the long tension that Gaza has been going through, a tension of civil servants that can’t be paid, closure of the only terminal to leave Gaza, and dim hopes for a better future.

The moment that the bombardment started, my elder son Tariq, 7 years old, started recalling the time of the 2012 war. The sounds of bombardment was sort of usual; soon he started to cope with the terminology of war and weapon. For him, I failed to explain why this war erupted and why he is experiencing the third war since he was born!

Dima, my 5 year old daughter, looked careless; she used to show gestures of shock during the times of the bombardment and then kept on playing as if nothing happened, while us- the adults, have experienced shock for longer times.

“When will our house be bombarded?” Asks Dima. For her, destruction is a meaningless word. She is just hearing and following up that a certain house has been bombed, and another has been targeted!! For her this becomes usual, but why not us? I had no answer.
People say: “Isolate children, you should not let them see the blood and the killing”. In fact, I was not able to imprison them inside the room; the house was already a big prison. When I was watching news, I could see them gazing! Looking at the bombardment of houses, they know it’s Israel that launches attacks. They know that Israel is an enemy that likes to kill children; they know that Israel is not letting us live in peace!
For 29 continuous days of attacks, my children got mad. Where are their dad’s promises of a nice holiday? “Why can’t we travel?” Three years ago, I miraculously succeeded at getting the chance to visit Egypt alongside my family. Despite being 4 and half at that time, Tariq recalls every moment he spent there: “Why can’t we go to an entertainment place? Why can’t we go to a swimming pool or play football? Just like any other kid, they got bored of playing with the same toys within a month, so why can’t I buy them toys?”
“Go and buy!!” They make their order with a strict language. My reply is simple: “I can’t do that kids! I will be killed if I go out” and they would just say: “OK, get killed, but get us our toys!”
Life and death are words without meaning for my kids. I do not know what future is waiting for them and what will the consequences be of such an abnormal life. I am not sure how Tariq and Dima would handle the experience- they reflected strength that hides deep fear inside. Yet, what scares me the most, is how Osama- my little boy, would have his normal mental growth.
As a Gazan Dad, it’s gloomy to know that 540 children have been killed and over three thousand little angels got injured. Words cannot describe such agony! May Allah bless those innocent kids.