Saturday November 30th was a wonderful day in Gaza.
Over 200 children, aged from 4 to 15 years, including 25 orphans, assembled at the Gaza Port. They came from several children's associations, along with 60 adult volunteers, as well as high school and university students aged 15- 22.
They were there to launch around 200 mini arks into the sea, to symbolically challenge the illegal and immoral Israeli blockade of Gaza. These mini-Arks, 40cm-long model-boats sponsored by people across the world, were taken out on the water a short distance by the children in small fishing boats, to be carefully lowered into the sea. Like messages in a bottle, the boats were tasked with the awesome responsibility of carrying the children's cry for help to the outside world. Trapped in a small stretch of land that is the Gaza Strip, children there want their freedom, just like all the adults do. They want the brutal siege of their land to end. The younger children all had paper mini arks and Palestinian flags to carry.
Palestinians and Internationals worked together to make the event a huge success. The weather cooperated too, with sunshine streaming down onto the many smiling faces of the children. After all they have been through, the opportunity for a moments escape from their daily realities was much deserved and needed. Most of these children remember the Israeli attacks of Dec. 2008 - Jan. 2009 and November 2012, that left so many traumatized, so it was wonderful to see the excitement and sheer joy on their faces that such a simple act of solidarity created!
About 120 mini arks were successfully launched. Then the wind picked up, and it was considered unsafe for the final trips out in the fishing boats, so another event will be arranged with the remaining mini arks. Stay tuned!
We would like to thank every one of you who made this happen:
-- sponsors of mini-Arks who donated over $9,000 to cover the cost of construction, with left over to money go to Gaza's Ark;
-- all donors, shareholders and supporters of Gaza's Ark for always supporting Gaza's Ark;
-- carpenters, blacksmiths, tailors and other boat builders who did a superb job laboring in extremely frustrating conditions due to the frequent power cuts, yet produced lovely model-boats and to the children who painted them;
-- teachers and other organizers who got the many children to the right place at the right time, in orderly queues, and kept them safe;
-- the many photographers and videogrphers who took, and shared, photos and videos for us all to enjoy;
-- the 384 people who signed up for Thunderclap to jump start the twitter trending and the host of individuals who supported the twitter trending campaign (#GazaKids trended in several places including Australia, Vietnam, Vancouver, California, Toronto, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, London, Venice, Milan, Rome, Naples, and Athens);
-- the people who organized local solidarity events all over the world, from a snowy market place in London, Ontario to a prison in Greece, from a South African school to a Swiss lake, from a Californian garden to a Spanish town, using origami boats, banners, flags, and more;
-- and last, but not least, thank you to our team in GAZA, and our Project Manager who came up with the idea and designed the mini-Arks. The team put it all together and made it happen, along with the teachers, parents, and the 39 student volunteers.
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