Gaza Block Parties Bring Minnesotans Together to Help Palestinians

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by Karmel Sabri

I am a Minnesota native but my family comes from Qalqiliya in the West Bank. And, though I live 6,000 miles from Palestine, the terrible situation there is real to me. I suspect that all of us who support Anera have this feeling in common.

In the wake of the 2014 war on Gaza, I felt like there was a lack of urgency to help since actual bombs were no longer falling. I wanted to inspire people to continue to send their love and support, so I started my Dear Gaza block parties.

The experience of raising funds to help Gaza has been eye-opening.

I learned that just saying the word “Gaza” is politically polarizing. It was difficult to get local businesses to host or donate, which is when I decided to apply for a block party permit and close down the street in the name of Gaza. My goal was to make sure that everyone who came learn at least a little about Palestinians, even if their main reason for coming was just to have fun. To be able to make even the slightest difference about the situation in Gaza and to chip away at people’s misconceptions about Palestinians is the biggest reward I could ask for.

I’ve held three Dear Gaza block parties so far, featuring music, arts and speeches about the region. I’m proud to report that attendance and interest grows every year.

Karmel Sabri fundraising for Palestinian refugees at her Dear Gaza event.

I chose Anera to receive the funds because there’s no political or religious motivation behind the work. Who could object to purely humanitarian work that reaches people caught in the middle of a terrible conflict?

I have been so impressed with the caliber and sustainability of Anera’s programs. They don’t just deliver bottles of water, they build reservoirs and link people’s homes to water systems. That’s the kind of work that lasts. [Learn about 5 Things Anera is Doing to Help Gaza.]

And finally, I have to say that Anera feels like family to me now. Right from the start and every step of the way, Anera staff has been there collaborating with me and supporting my efforts – from advertising the event to sending a staffer from DC to speak at it.

So I’d like to leave you with a request. Get something going in your local community and, believe me, your friends at Anera will help you with whatever you need. More people need to know about what’s happening in Lebanon and Palestine. People are suffering and it’s not right.

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