A LOCAL charity that raises money so women can go to university in the war-affected Gaza region is proceeding with an autumn fundraiser in solidarity with their students.
Saddleworth Palestine Women’s Scholarship Fund (SPWSF) is hoping for “a peaceful solution” to the unfolding crisis in Gaza, amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.
The charity managed to make intermittent contact with one of the students it supports but, since the latest bombing raids, it has lost touch with them.
Malak Al Daour previously sent a WhatsApp message to confirm she was safe but described “terrifying scenes” as the bombardment of the Gaza Strip continues.
Messaging from the Beit Lahia area in the northern Gaza Strip, she said: “We hear the sounds of rockets, gunfire and missiles. We are all sitting next to each other afraid. Window glass shattered around us from the force of the explosion.”
In a second message, sent five days later, she said her friends had been killed and the university she was studying at had been bombed.
SPWSF committee member Sue Piper, who visited Malak in Gaza three months ago, continued: “Just days after that, Malak wrote she had to move after her apartment block was bombed. She said 20 family members had been killed including grandchildren.
“Then came the devastating news that we have all feared, one of Malak’s friends and a fellow scholarship student was killed during the bombing of the Jabalia Camp.”
Since then, Sue and her fellow committee members have heard nothing more from Malak.
“We fear so much for her safety,” Sue said. “Palestinians in the north of Gaza were told to evacuate but then travel was not safe. We are afraid for her and all of our students.”
The charity’s coordinator in the region, Dr Mona El-Farra, managed to escape to the Egyptian capital Cairo before the Rafah border crossing closed at the start of the crisis.
She is working with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to send what medical supplies they can into Gaza.
As the committee anxiously awaits further news about Malak and the fate of all the women the charity funds into higher education in Gaza, they plan to go ahead with the latest fundraiser.
A Breakfast for Palestine will take place at Uppermill Methodist Church on Saturday, November 18, from 10.30am to 1pm.