Sunday, 25 October 2009

Smiles In Gaza as the Quest for Freedom Continues

Smiles In Gaza as the Quest for Freedom Continues

(by Ayman Quader and Andrew Felluss)

Gaza City, Palestine – October 13th, 2009. Steadfast in their smiles of innocence, children of Al-Maghazi refugee camp, in the middle of the Gaza Strip, enjoyed the launching today of ‘Quest For Smile’, an after-school event of performance and entertainment organized in Gaza and sponsored internationally. The celebration was attended by an estimated 200 children, who eagerly immersed themselves in the festivities, sharing moments of joy and friendship, and forgetting awhile the recent violence that has plagued their place of residence.

Less than one year ago, during the 23-day assault on the besieged Gaza Strip, 3 children living in Al-Maghazi camp were killed, and over 30 were critically wounded. All of these children in the camp, which was established in 1949 to shelter refugees of the Palestine War, are recovering from the psychological trauma of the latest attacks.

The Quest For Smile event was organized by the Unlimited Friends Association in Gaza and co-sponsored by Artists Against Apartheid and No More Ignorance, both international arts activist groups. Funding for the event was provided by generous contributors through fund raising drives by the organizers and sponsors, and demonstrated the will of the international community to lend support for youth activities in Gaza.

The initiative also prompted the co-sponsors to draft a message to the children, who endure ongoing human rights violations, both as the subjects of recent violence, and through their inherited struggle as Palestinian refugees. In the message of solidarity, the co-sponsors strongly stressed that the children of the Gaza are not alone, and people around the world are actively supporting their quest for freedom and equality.

“No words can express joy experienced by these children during the event”, said one audience member, noting how the children couldn’t stop clapping and dancing with the costumed performers. The young audience enjoyed several activities and performances, including dancing, group games, a trivia contest, and others, as well as spending some leisurely time outside with friends.


Two of the children read aloud the ‘Message of Hope from Abroad’ that was sent from the co-sponsors, both in English and Arabic. During the reading, the children listened intently, as if the voices were coming directly to their ears from outside Gaza. This message had great influence on the children, who immediately reflected upon their situation. Ahmed, who is seven years old, said “I am here so as to practice my childhood that I am being prevented to do so. Therefore I join this event today to share happiness and play with my same aged children and friends”. Salwa, a 9 year old girl, was critically injured during the recent war on Gaza, narrowly escaping her house with her family before the main municipality was directly targeted and completely destroyed. She expressed her deep pleasure upon hearing the message, which reads:

Message of Hope from Abroad to the Children of Al-Maghazi Refugee Camp, Gaza:

Dear Children of Al-Maghazi, we are a group of artists and activists who wish to send you a message of hope from around the world. We come from many countries, and all support your struggle for freedom and equality.

When bombs fell on Gaza earlier this year, we wished we could take you in our homes, to protect you from the cruelty you were forced to endure. Still, you have endured: you are alive to hear this now, and we are in awe of your strength.

We want you to know that you are not alone, and we have not forgotten what has happened to the people of Palestine. We will not rest until you and your families are free, and allowed to live in peace.

We hope you have enjoyed today’s event, and we send our warmest regards to all of the performers, speakers and organizers who have shared this afternoon of smiles with you. We hope these moments of joy will be everlasting.

After listening intently to the message, the children directly signed down their names and ages as joyful witnesses, and taking their own copies of the document.

Here today, in this small refugee camp in the heart of Gaza City, this group of innocent children were overjoyed by a rare opportunity: a chance to “just be kids”. Day to day life in Gaza is trying, as basic human rights and sustenance are hindered as the collective punishment of the siege persists. But for an afternoon, this ‘Quest For Smile’ was a success.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Rhythms, music... over Israeli occupation...

Rhythms, music...over Israeli occupation...

Ayman Quader

10 October 2009

Gaza, October 10, 2009 (Pal Telegraph)Still the people of Palestine live under the cruel Israeli occupation which creates severe suffering for the people. The suffering of the people living in the Gaza Strip has been greatly increased as the nearly 4-year brutal siege suffocates all aspects of life in the Strip. The situation on the ground is dire as 1.5 million residents of the Strip have been denied their basic daily life needs, food, and freedom of movement.

There have been, internationally and locally, many activities carried out by people who always love and express solidarity for the people of Palestine and the Gaza Strip. These activities reflect the kind-heartedness of those people to shine a light on the ongoing abuse of human rights on the Gaza Strip and attract attention to the situation there. Indeed, the act of non-violent resistance is very effective as a means of creating change and working for social justice.

In a recent article I wrote with my friend Sameh Habeeb,, we examined the non-violent activities that have been successfully launched in the Gaza Strip, focusing on the results of these efforts, which have helped to bring the situation of the Gaza Strip to the attention of the international community.

Once again the voices of people and artists are supporting the besieged Gaza in a unique event that will take place soon in Dublin, called, Two cities – One Concert . On 16th October, Dublin will extend the hand of friendship to the city of Gaza when a very special concert will be transmitted live from Tripod in Dublin and beamed LIVE to Gaza City – Two cities, One concert.

Great Irish musicians will join this concert to celebrate and raise voices toward what's going on in the Gaza Strip. Celebrated musicians Irish Liam Ó Maonlaí, Lumiere, Kíla, Naisrin and Zahara El Safty will be joined on the bill by Palestinian singer Shadia Mansour,

and Dublin based Discovery Gospel Choir, who will perform with renowned Iraqi/English Rapper MC Lowkey. A night of brilliant music with a big message, the concert will be broadcast live on a big screen in Gaza city allowing the people of Gaza to enjoy the concert in Dublin and they in turn will say something to the Irish audience.

William Nassar is a renowned Palestinian composer, songwriter and performer. He's been active in the struggle for Gaza through concerts, writing articles and demonstrations. He received the Order of Merit of the Palestinian Ministry of Culture

The organizers of this event stated that this evening will celebrate culture by the use of music to unite both the people of Gaza and the people of Ireland. Additionally, the organizers of the concert try to send a clear message that Gaza is not alone and there are many people around the world expressing solidarity with its people. The main goal of this concert is to raise funds needed for the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip.

In another step to show solidarity with the people of the Gaza Strip, there will be international groups marching to Rafah border in coming December. The great FREEDOM MARCH will include hundreds of international dignitaries and human rights activists who will come to Gaza to express comprehensive solidarity with 1.5 million Gazans living under the siege.

The March aims to strengthen international solidarity toward the daily Palestinian suffering and to put moral and legal pressure on the international community to take its responsibilities in alleviating the Palestinian tragedy, enable them to rebuild their own homes, and to live in peace & security.

To raise a voice is better than to keep passive. The resistance of the words is a very powerful tool for change. As we are people of Palestine living under the Israeli occupation, we have the complete right to resist and to gather international voices by the means of non-violent approaches. We will never give up till we are free.

Ayman T. Quader
Blogger Based on the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip, Palestine
Mob: 00972599448628
Skype: peaceforgaza
Facebook: ayman.quader