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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - UK-based humanitarian refugee charity holds Ramadan fundraising iftar for Gaza evacuation center in Egypt

LONDON: UK-based humanitarian charity Goodwill Caravan has hosted an iftar during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to raise funds for its emergency food and aid appeal for Gaza.

More than £75,000 ($94,687) was raised from various activities throughout the evening, including general fundraising, an auction of Palestinian art, raffle draws, and stalls selling handicrafts, traditional clothes, jewelry and confectionery.

The funds raised will also go toward supporting evacuees and those who have managed to escape the war into neighboring countries such as Egypt, where the charity has set up an emergency reception center.

Hanan Ashegh, founder and executive director of Goodwill Caravan, told Arab News: “We’re focusing more on the Palestinians that have been evacuated outside of Palestine into Egypt and the ones that made it out across the border.”

She added that the focus was to empower and help families arriving in Egypt who “don’t know where to go,” as this posed a huge problem for refugees.

Goodwill Caravan, which was set up in 2015, covers global refugee and anti-trafficking protection projects in Greece and the UK, and is currently working to aid 120 families from Gaza, who are new arrivals at its Sallam Center in Egypt.

The aim is to feed, shelter, reunify and support up to 5,000 families and destitute refugees this Ramadan, and provide them with all their immediate needs, Ashegh said.

She added that more cash pledges were expected as donations increase in the last few days of the holy month.

She explained that the initial plan was to have the Sallam Center operating for a year, but the charity hopes it will continue for longer.

She added that “there are a lot of people sending trucks into Gaza,” but according to the 120 families that the charity has dealt with, a lot of the aid is not getting through.

Dr. Hanan Abukamil, a Palestinian doctor who had just completed a postgraduate degree at Cambridge University before the Israel-Hamas conflict began on Oct. 7 last year, has been stranded in the UK ever since and is unable to return to Gaza.

She took part in a panel discussion at the event to raise awareness of the health conditions in the besieged Palestinian territory, and the long-term effects that the war will have on current and future generations.

She said: “As a Palestinian doctor, one of my main concerns is always helping, including in the field of mental health.”

Abukamil said about 18,000 children in Palestine had lost one or both of their parents “and they have to continue their lives without any support or sense of love and care.”

Pre-war Palestine, including Gaza, was considered to have one of the highest concentrations of people suffering from mental health issues and psychological disorders in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, she added.

Abukamil said that the psychological stress on thousands of pregnant women will continue to impact an entire generation of young mothers and their children, and added: “The psychiatrists conceptualized that in Gaza there is no post-traumatic disorder because the trauma is repetitive, ongoing, and continuous.”

Mona Aburmishan, a comedian and humanitarian, also participated in the panel discussion and spoke on Palestinian culture and heritage.

Born in Chicago, Aburmishan now resides in the West Bank and traveled to London to take part in the iftar for Gaza event, which was held under the slogan “Shoulder to Shoulder.”

She said morale was low among Palestinians, and although “it’s a very somber time, on the other side, lots of changes in societies, social structures and civilizations happen after a situation like this.”

She added: “(There is) a lot of innovation. It feels like it’s going to happen in the next five to 10 years in Palestine, so being able to do some projects where we can help folks think more entrepreneurially and locally (is good).”

She was also one of the exhibitors at the event and had a stall selling handmade Palestinian thobes, merchandise, olives, and seeds from Palestine to encourage people to plant them in their home or gardens in Britain as a “symbolic gesture.”

Dyna Fayz, founder of the Prestigious Ladies London Club, which also co-organized the event, said that every Ramadan the club held events to honor “the month of giving.”

She added: “This year we have decided to collaborate with Goodwill Caravan because we believe in what the charity is doing, which is helping those that are the most in need at the moment.”

The Prestigious Ladies London Club focuses on empowering, inspiring and supporting women entrepreneurs from different backgrounds, and it wants to help empower female refugees by advocating, helping and financially aiding them to carry on with their lives.

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