A donation

During our campaign to collect funds and aid for the second convoy to Gaza, one of the people working in Brighton to raise awareness, Naomi Foyle, a poet, contributed this:

Donate your status.
Donate your despair.
Donate your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your husband, your wife.
Donate your children.
Donate a hospital.
Donate one thousand three hundred and thirteen candles.
Donate a match.
Match a donation.
Donate the fine line between you and your neighbour.
Donate a bucket of soil.
Donate a packet of seeds.
Donate a new pair of shoes.
Donate a truckload of doughnuts.
Donate a moment of doubt.
Donate your most sophisticated haircut.
Donate a crate of sophistry-detectors.
Donate your online research and personal development.
Donate what’s keeping you here.
Donate your will to survive.
Do not do nothing.
Donate your body temperature.
Donate your kidney.
Donate your library.
Donate your deepest desire.
Do not fear ridicule, rage, isolation.
Donate a kilo of rice.
Donate a tenner.
Donate a round table.
Donate the freedom you’d forgotten you had.
Donate your shopping list — your love of avocados, Sharon fruit and dates.
Donate the sweater your grandmother made you.
Donate a winter of warm, sleepless nights.
Donate a new notion of “nation”.
Donate a persistent belief that, despite all evidence to the contrary,
everyone, everywhere, is extraordinary.
Donate an hour of your day
to stand up and demonstrate
peace is a process of learning to listen,
and giving is not “giving in”.

Naomi Foyle
copyleft – pass it on

“Hey buddy, d’you wanna come to Gaza?”

A very unexpected request came in this month, and it has led to a flurry of activity.

An long-term supporter of Aid Convoy, who was involved in sending us off to Kosova way back in 1999, has also long been passionately concerned about the victims of the conflict in Palestine and Israel. Upon hearing of an embryonic plan to send an aid convoy there, he thought it was clear that calling on us would bring some expertise to bear.

The project developed extremely rapidly, and we quickly moved from offering logistics advice about vehicle choice and administration, into agreeing to send a volunteer as one of the convoy leaders, and to manage a team of new volunteers.

Aid Convoy's vehicle leading a team to Gaza

Formed by individual fundraising groups all over the UK, under a central umbrella, this convoy in that sense followed a very similar growth pattern to those run by us to Kosova and Ukraine. The groups raised extraordinary amounts of money and filled over 100 vehicles with aid.

Almost everything was medical aid, as we had been advised that Egypt would allow no other kinds of material across the border at that time. This meant medicines, medical supplies, and medical equipment. Many of the vehicles were fully-equipped ambulances. All were donated along with their contents, and the teams flew home. Our team-leading vehicle (the blue Ford seen above) was a minibus, which will be used as a schoolbus in good times, and a light-casualty ambulance should it be needed as such.

The convoy passed through a historic route along the top of North Africa — including gaining passage between Morocco and Algeria, which is not normally an open border. All along the way, the reception was overpoweringly welcoming and encouraging. As we have seen before, bold humanitarian aid projects really can bring out the best in people!

It was also our first chance to visit Libya, and began a process of relationship-building which may enable us to help in that country in the future.

Displaced people in Gaza, with their tents in the rubbleIn Gaza itself, we witnessed at first hand the destruction caused by the military action in late 2008 and early 2009. Many buildings and farms destroyed, and people living in United Nations tents, often right next to the rubble, which remains strewn with hazards. In addition to the direct hardship caused by being rendered homeless, entire communities are also finding it very hard to farm land for food, or find paid employment.

We were extremely well looked-after whilst there. Our physical security was obviously a big concern for the volunteers – boy scouts, and similar – who were helping us, and as with Kosova and Albania in the past, we made our stay as short as possible — we had to get the aid delivered, and make arrangements for the future, including ascertaining with whom we could work. But we also wanted to avoid being a burden to them, in terms of needs (water, food, etc.) and safety.