IT was East meets West at Uppermill Methodist Church Hall as a special fundraising event and donations raised more than £700 to help women in Gaza access university education.
‘Food for Thought 100 Years after Balfour’ shed light from a Palestinian perspective on the Balfour Declaration that was established 100 years ago.
The 67-word document by British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour was the first time the British government endorsed the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, but at what cost to the Palestinian people?
Over tea and cake, over 60 people heard an informative talk by Annie O’Gara and Paul Wimpeney from Sheffield’s Palestinian Solidarity Campaign exploring why the Balfour Declaration was and remains so important both here and in Palestine.
All Palestinian children learn about it in school as the first step towards the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) of 1948 and the loss of their land when 750,000 Palestinians were expelled during 1947 – 1949.
For decades, the political situation in Gaza has created widespread poverty. According to a report by the World Bank last year, unemployment is at 42 per cent and almost 80 per cent of residents receive some form of aid.
Fewer families can now afford to pay for education, which is often prioritised for sons rather than daughters, but despite these difficult conditions universities are still open.
Further education for women, with their key family and community roles, is vitally important for both them and the long-term future of Gaza.
The fundraising event was organised by the Saddleworth Palestine Women’s Scholarship Fund and included stalls selling authentic Palestinian foodstuffs and pottery, homemade jams and jewellery.
The audience also heard from Dr Mona El Farrar who lives and works in Gaza and is part of the committee who administers the fund.
She revealed that since the fund began 2008, 63 girls have graduated, with more than three quarters of them succeeding in getting work.
The fund currently supports 46 students studying subjects from Law and Business Administration to Teaching English and Psychotherapy.
Jacqui Greenfield, one of the group’s organisers, said: “We organise a number of fundraising events every year and were delighted that this wonderfully warm and informative afternoon was such a success.”
“We were amazed at the generosity of all those joined us in learning more about the devastating impact of Balfour on the Palestinian people,” said Kathy Brooks, another group member.
“Our students may not know the names of those kind enough to donate, but they do know that increasing numbers of people are donating and working hard to make the world a better place.”
The Saddleworth Palestine Women’s Scholarship Fund group meets regularly and welcomes new members. If you are interested in joining the group, or supporting events, email: firstname.lastname@example.org