Kiwis helping on the ground in Beit Hanoun

by Julie Webb-Pullman

Kiwi kindness has again lifted the spirits and living standards of the once-thriving-now-destroyed agricultural centre of Beit Hanoun, in North Gaza. In November 2014 Salwa Abu Nijila distributed blankets, clothes and groceries to 30 families, bought with donations from New Zealanders.

Ninety needy families are benefitting from this latest Federation of Islamic Associations in New Zealand (FIANZ)/Kiwi Trust project. According to Salwa, about nine families a day ask her for help, and she has about 500 very needy on her list, so she has had to prioritise.

Blankets, LED lights and batteries, and basic groceries and food are the most essential items this time around, which she is giving to the poorest as they are being neglected by the big donors who only provide help for the homeless.

Those sheltering in the UNRWA schools will not be recipients in this distribution because they have light there, and food, and they were given blankets last time. UNRWA has now built men’s and women’s bathrooms at the schools, too, so conditions there are much better than they were.

Some people who ask for help are already receiving assistance from other organisations so Salwa and her team concentrate on helping those who get nothing from anywhere else. Keeping track of this isn’t so difficult in a small place like Gaza, and they are able to find out pretty effectively through their networks, and indirect questioning.

Some of these people told how their children don’t even have clothes, let alone blankets, and the mothers must cover them with their coats. UNRWA gives them food only once every three months.

But even UNRWA is facing its own problems – the money promised by donors at the Cairo Gaza reconstruction conference has still not arrived in Gaza six months later, leading them to cut services.

The situation in Beit Hanoun – and all across the Gaza Strip – is catastrophic.

Generosity such as that provided by FIANZ and Kiwi Trust, while small compared to the size of the need, is having a huge impact by reaching the people on the ground, literally.

Every little bit makes a big difference. C’mon Kiwis – keep giving Beit Hanoun a hand!

To make a donation to Kiwi Trust for Palestinian Children Relief, deposit online into this account: 06-0574-0285180-00
or call Hatem on 020 4008 4921