500 Bags Packed With School Supplies, Several Activists & One Hope for a Better Future in Gaza
The economic situation in the Palestinian coastal enclave has always been fragile, but the crisis has deepened in the past couple of years primarily because of the outbreak of COVID-19.
A number of Gaza-based activists have decided to change that reality, launching a project called "One Bag, One Hope" that aims to distribute basic school supplies to children.
Although studies in the Gaza Strip have resumed and thousands of Palestinian children went back to school, many families are still struggling to provide them with basic equipment and supplies.
The economic situation in the Palestinian coastal enclave has always been tenuous. This is partially due to an Israeli blockade imposed in 2007, when Hamas, deemed a terrorist organisation by Tel Aviv, took control of the enclave and because of internal divisions within the Palestinian leadership.
But recent years have seen a deterioration following the eruption of COVID-19. Unemployment rose to 49 percent, pushing thousands of families into poverty. And many have lost hope for a better future.
One Bag, One Hope
Rami Aman, a Gaza-based activist, decided he wanted to bring that hope back. Joining forces with others, he launched an initiative to provide Gaza's impoverished children with 500 school bags containing all the basic supplies they may need, including notebooks and sketch pads, pencils, pens, sharpeners, erasers, and crayons. The bags also contain a motivational note and a flower.
He called it "One Bag, One Hope" and he says that the idea was to give Gazans hope for a brighter future.
"I'd like to give them a sense that they can have a better future and that we are sharing their burden and harsh conditions. I hope that this small initiative will awaken pupils' ambitions, it will help them to discover their hobbies and it will encourage students to study".
When the first cases of COVID-19 were discovered in the Strip in March 2020, the Hamas authorities decided to close down its 737 schools. Students across the enclave were forced to study remotely and needed to rely on computers and access to the internet.
However, in an area with frequent power shortages and lack of computers, connecting students to the remote education system proved to be mission impossible, and that only added to the general frustration of Gazan pupils and their parents.
3 February 2021, 06:32 GMT
Aman knows that his initiative is a drop in the bucket and that he will not be able to resolve the multiple problems facing Gazan society.
So far, only slightly more than one hundred people from all over the world have donated money to the initiative after Aman filmed a short video presenting the campaign and its importance. To make a difference, he needs more funds but says he isn't giving up on the idea to improve the lives of Gazans.
He has done so multiple times in the past. As a peace activist, Aman organised face-to-face meetings between Israelis and Palestinians. He set up Skype and phone calls to bridge the two and bring them together. He has also been involved in local activities, arranging peaceful demonstrations calling on the authorities to improve the lives of ordinary civilians.
Those activities soon backfired. Aman has been arrested, interrogated, tortured, and jailed by Hamas on a number of occasions. The most recent incident occurred in 2020, when he was held in a cell for six months.
But the activist says the pressure by Hamas has not broken his spirit. "I am tired as a person because of what I have been through but I became stronger as an activist and I am not going to give up".
14 September 2021, 06:46 GMT
Aside from the "One Bag, One Hope" initiative, Aman is also working on a number of other projects in education, arts, health, and services for the disabled. His projects have already been getting positive feedback from the masses.
"We have been getting an amazing reaction from children and families. Everyone here is surrounded by worries and problems, boredom, poverty, and lack of opportunities".
"So when we come to surprise them and see their smiles, we brighten up their daily routine and show them that a change is indeed possible".