Messages to Anera's Amazing Gaza Team

The messages here come from (current and former) staff, board, committees and other Anera friends.

I’m sending you love, support and strength. The work you’ve been doing is beyond heroic. May Allah bless you and protect you and may your prayers during this holy month be answered.

Allah yehmeekom. (US staffer) Rula Kort

Our hearts are broken, our minds are shell shocked. The loss of Mousa and the tragedy which befell his family and the daily sacrifices you all make humble us. We cannot thank you enough for your strength, your dedication and your courage in the face of the daily miseries that you face and deal with. You reaffirm our faith in humanity, and we pray for your safety and hope that sanity and goodness will prevail, somehow.

Sincerely, (education committee member) Grace Tompkins

Dearest Gaza Colleagues,

In these incredibly challenging times, our hearts ache for you all as you endure the hardships of war and grieve the loss of our dear colleague Moussa and his son, along with any other family members or friends you may have lost. We know that the pain is indescribable, but please know that we are here for you, offering our support and solidarity during this incredibly difficult time. Despite the distance that separates us, our thoughts, prayers, and unwavering support are with you every step of the way.

In the face of adversity, your resilience shines brightly, inspiring us all with your courage and determination.
Take good care of yourselves and each other, and remember, we are here for you! May this inhuman genocide come to an end, and may a ceasefire be realized soon.

Much love, Lebanon MEAL Team
Karine Taha, Farah Ali, Farah Abdel Jawad, Patricia Korkomaz, Zeinab Kammouni, Wael Al Imam

To our heroic and amazing staff in Gaza. As I sit here in Boston, watching this nightmare in Gaza worsen every day in front of my eyes, thinking of all of you working tirelessly, selflessly and bravely to help your fellow Gazans in need is all that keeps my hope alive. You all are far more than heroic, you are the best example of kindness, selflessness and humanity. Although I have not met any of you in person, you all are part of our Anera family which is so important to me. I never knew Mousa but his death shattered my heart and I grieve for his family. I hope they know that Anera stands with them through this terrible loss. I hope all of you know how much we care and how much we pray for a ceasefire every day. One day, it would be a great honor to meet and thank each of you in person. What you are doing every day is almost inconceivable - delivering millions of meals as bombs continue to fall. It is not that you all are fearless, but you put your fear aside in order to help others who rely on you. It is hard to wish you Ramadan Kareem when every day now is often an unsuccessful search for food instead of sitting down with family at tables laden with food for iftar after a day of fasting. Instead I hope all of you and your families stay safe, that you are strengthened by your faith and know that your Anera family around the US is so proud of all of you.

Thank you for everything you do. (board member) Piney Kesting

From (US staffer) Lina Kanaan
From (US staffer) Lina Kanaan

Dear Gaza Team,

You all are the light that keeps us going in this very dark world. It is through your bravery that we gather strength. It is through the love that you share for one another and our communities that keeps us all inspired. Mousa’s and Karim’s lives will not be in vain and the entire Anera community is here to support you in any and every way possible. Inshallah, peace will return to the land and the suffering will end. We are grateful and thankful for each of you.

Love, (US staffer) Carole Bellamy

IMG_5098

To our staff in Gaza:

Ramadan Mubarak. I extend to you all my deepest gratitude for your tireless work to provide essential aid to those most in need during this horrific war. The dedication and resilience you’ve demonstrated in the face of extreme adversity at your own personal risk over the past few months is truly inspiring and a role model for all of us. Your unwavering belief in Anera’s mission is exemplary. You are our true heroes. The loss of our dear friend and colleague Mousa Shawwa, with others who lost their lives and those injured that morning, broke our hearts. His loss to his family, loved ones and to the Anera family is immeasurable. Like all of you, I’m certain that his passing doing what he loved to do will only increase our resolve to carry on with Anera’s mission.

Let us all rededicate ourselves in his memory, and many others who lost their lives in this war, to continue to do the work we do to bring hope to those we serve and to alleviate the hardships of our people in Palestine.

Best Regards, (board member) Nader Barakat

In the best of times, traveling to Gaza left me jittery. The Israelis had a way of doing that under normal conditions. So, when I reached the relative calm of the office, Mousa added to it with his infectious smile and greetings. Very quickly he would bring me water and coffee which just confirmed that I was among friends. Mousa was the essence of Gazan hospitality.

His gentleness shone through with an ever-present smile that displayed to me that at least on the outside, he was unflappable. That's what strikes me as even more ironic that he was killed. He is symbolic of many who have died...innocent, kind, loving and totally unjustified. As a Christian, I pray Fatiha for him and his remaining family. I hope that in their most lonely moments, they can be proud of Mousa. If anyone should enjoy fardos, he should. Allah yirhamo!

For the rest of the Anera family, I hope you do not lose heart because of his murder. You are all doing marvelous work. Your service to others encourages so many Gazans and people of the world. Your sacrifice is noticed and appreciated. After 3 wars with you, I considered you "heroes". Now the world knows you are heroes. Samoud!

With esteem and appreciation, (former president) Bill Corcoran

Dear Anera colleagues—

ou are constantly in our hearts and minds. Your hard work in the midst of privation, danger and loss of family members, friends and esteemed colleague Mousa Shawwa is a true symbol of resilience and courage. Your struggle is supported by thousands in my town (Oakland, California), where the city council has passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire. Here are pictures of the downtown Palestine Solidarity Mural.

We are with you and we truly appreciate you! (board member) Judy Barsalou

IMG_2135

I have not met any of you in person yet, but I very much hope to someday soon. In the meantime, I want you to know how dearly I hold all of you in my heart. The courage and generosity you have shown every day through your work is astonishing, as you have been enduring such a cruel and terrifying siege and bombardment. For a long time before these past months, you already were living Anera's mission, finding meaningful ways to improve the lives of your fellow Gazans. Since October, you have had to devote all your energy to saving and sustaining lives, including your own, and you have done that so admirably. You have managed to find ways to provide meals and medicine, moral support and care, all with such kindness and dedication. Please know that we will never forget Mousa and all that he worked for. So many of us outside of Gaza grieve with you and cherish you. We will keep pushing for a cease fire and for a world that lives up to your commitment and your hopes. I hope that the spring and Ramadan will bring the peace and renewal that you all deserve.

With gratitude and love, (board member) Victoria Sams

Anera Gaza team,

There are no words to describe the sacrifice you all have experienced these past months. I cannot think of an appropriate way to thank you all for your hard work, resiliency, and dedication to humanity in the face of such horrible conditions. You are angels in such a dark situation. I’m so grateful to work alongside you, and am hoping that humanity will prevail. Ramadan Mubarak and praying for a ceasefire.

(US staffer) Claire Walker

From (Lebanon staffer) Dima Zayat
From (Lebanon staffer) Dima Zayat

I just want you to know that I think of you all day every day. While I am beyond grateful for the work you do in such a dangerous situation, I’m also aware of the comfort that I live in while others suffer so greatly!! I’m praying for an end to the unspeakable violence. I must have hope! (education committee member) Barbara Gimperling

I am still at a loss of words thinking of Moussa’s family, his wife, kids, and especially his little boy. The dedication of the Anera team is Gaza is just amazing. Getting killed while wearing the Anera jacket says it all.

Even more painful during Ramadan, a month of joy. I never had the chance of interacting with Mousa. However I had the pleasure of interacting with Sami. The team’s dedication to helping others is inspiring.

Unfortunately, there are no words to express my sincere condolences.

Best Regards, (board member) Tarek Ghandour

Dear team, I miss you and am so honored to call you my colleagues. I remember coming to Gaza for the first time and how at home you made me feel. Being all together in the office and in the field, exchanging ideas, learning, it just felt right. I was completely gutted by the news of Mousa’s murder. I think of you all on a daily basis. I know nothing I can say could take away the terror you must be experiencing. I dream of a day we can be together again sipping coffee (maybe a cigarette or two) and enjoy each other’s company, wherever we want. I pray for you and continue to fight for the liberation of Gaza and Palestine.

With immense love, your friend and (US) colleague Michelle Rodriguez.

Art by Michelle
Art by Michelle

To each of you - our great team in Gaza - my heart goes out to you for the tragic situation that you are facing.  There can be no excuse whatsoever for the brutality of the Israeli bombing.  I am so proud of what you are doing and have done for many years. Some of you will remember that when I was Chair of the Anera board, I visited Gaza a couple of times and saw the amazing dedication and commitment you have for Anera's efforts to assist people there in Gaza.  The task is immeasurably harder now and I know that each one of you have lost either family members or close friends - bringing you grief and sadness.  I pray for you and hope that the senseless situation will come to an end quickly.  When it does, you will be needed more than you every have been in the past.  You can be sure that all of us in the Anera organization will be right beside you when that time comes.  With all my heartfelt love and prayers,  (board member) Skip Gnehm

I'm sending warm wishes of peace and comfort to the family in this difficult time. I wish I could take away your pain and anger! I am profoundly sad at this news and my heartfelt prayers to the family and support is here!   (board member) Mona Naffa

Joselyn-Riszk

Dear Gaza Team,

I find myself at a loss for words as I attempt to reach out during these unimaginably tough times. The heartache and loss we've experienced, especially with the passing of Mousa, is profound and deeply personal. I don't think a day has passed since October 7th that you have not been in my thoughts and prayers. 

It's hard to make sense of the injustices and trials you face daily. The pain of loss, the fear for personal and family safety, and the ongoing struggle to find peace and normalcy amidst chaos are feelings no one should have to endure. Yet, amid such darkness, your resilience and dedication shine incredibly bright, bringing hope to our beloved people of Gaza and all of us at Anera.

During this holy month of Ramadan, my heartfelt wishes for strength, peace, and justice. May this sacred month offer hope and solace, and pray for a better future for Gaza.

I want you to know that I stand with you and with Palestine. 

With deepest gratitude and solidarity, (Lebanon staffer) Samar El Yassir

Please convey to our Gaza colleagues my heartfelt gratitude for their stamina to keep working under the most arduous conditions imaginable, which are in fact much worse than what is imaginable. Their fortitude and dedication have earned amazement at their steadfast commitment to help their fellow Gazans in the face of relentless attack. Mousa has paid the ultimate price for that dedication but you all share in our affection and concern for your welfare and the hope that peace and better days lie ahead for Gaza. When that day comes you will look back with pride at your perseverance in the face of implacable the hatred and suffering being inflicted upon you.  – (education committee member) Robert Mertz

I am writing this note so each of you will know just how important you are.  Your heroic efforts under these life threatening, horrific conditions are recognized and greatly appreciated by the entire Anera community. Please remember that you are playing a vital role in helping the people of Gaza survive and that the whole world is applauding what you are doing. We pray that you will be protected and that this nightmare you are living through will end soon. – (board member) Bob Trice

From the first day that this terrible and cruel war started, I have felt so helpless as a human being and as a humanitarian. I have followed the achievements of the Gaza team in what is now a second nabka multiplied many times over with so much admiration. Your courage and the love that you show to the needy in Gaza has no limit. I feel so sad that I cannot be closer to you in your suffering. Your achievement given the circumstances are beyond heroic. That great Palestinian, Jesus, said: "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down  his life for his friends." When I heard of our beloved friend and colleague, Mousa being killed in an Israeli airstrike along with 35 of  his relatives, I immediately started crying. Mousa exhibited the best of all of you, and he literally gave his life for others in the same way that Jesus defined "greater love." Mousa like the rest of the Gaza staff was my friend. He was often the first person that I would see at the office. He would keep my caffeinated and with a smile put his hand on my shoulder and say if everything was fine. I will forever remember his smile. He truly exuded the good heart that he had. I will really  miss him. Before this, I was looking forward to seeing him and the rest of my Anera colleagues in Gaza whenever it would be possible for me to enter Gaza...I will not have that chance with Mousa. On top of that, the death of his son who was gravely wounded in the same vicious attack is a double wound. His six year old son is  one more in nearly 13K children murdered in this unjust war. May Mousa and Karim rest in peace in God's eternal light and goodness and may they forever live in our hearts and be an inspiration to us as we work to make Palestine a better place. I pray that this be the last time that Gaza and the Palestinians have to suffer so much! Peace, Paul Butler

(US staffer) Jacky Briseno

Every day passes, I think of each one of you. I wake up each morning to check my WhatsApp messages to see how you are all doing. I keep myself busy with work to feel closer to you. Every bit of aid that goes into Gaza, gives me hope.  

The loss of Mousa hit us hard, and Kareem's passing made it even harder. I find myself continually hoping that these losses mark the end of our collective pain and that the brutal war will soon cease. I often reminisce about our gathering in Sharm El Sheikh, where I met Mousa for the first time. Those moments, like when we shared duqa in the middle of the resort along with other Gaza colleagues, remain vivid in my memory. I didn’t know if I loved duqa so much or if I loved spending an authentic experience with my colleagues from Gaza.

I miss you all tremendously. I am constantly in awe of your remarkable work under such harsh circumstances. You make me incredibly proud, and I can’t wait for the day we meet again. To me, you are more than colleagues; you are my cherished family in Gaza.

With much love to you and your families, (US staffer) Nisreen Khalaf

Long ago in law school, I joined an immigration law internship that focused on Palestinians and deportation cases and at the time few Palestinians were given asylum. I threw myself into understanding the amazing culture, the history, the status of refugees, and the risks of living a life without rights and the risks of deportation to certain detention.  I was lucky that I had the help of smart professors and won my cases.  But I had to delve deeply into your amazing history myself and in doing so it changed my life profoundly, opening my eyes to the talents and aspirations of the smartest people on the planet, who were universally denied their human rights, but never losing their dignity, their hope or their spirit.  When offered a chance to be on the board of Anera I was very honored.   Now two years later the almost unimaginable has happened.   

What you are all doing—risking your lives to save your people in these unimaginable conditions—is the definition of courage. You are the true  heroes. My heroes. Anera’s heroes.  Thank you for everything you are doing.  – (board member) Kathleen Rogers

We know the terrible times that you are enduring, but we remember the life of Mousa Shawwa in Gaza, and the terrible emptiness he has left. We so much appreciate his life and deep dedication to the people of Gaza and the work of Anera. We pray constantly that others who have been spared will remain safe. We pray also for his family and the family of others who have been lost while trying to help others to survive.  –  (health committee member) Gilbert Burnham

Art from (board member) Allison Hills' daughter Ophilia
Art from (board member) Allison Hills' daughter Ophilia

Dear treasured Anera friends in Gaza,

When my late husband, Jim Sams, co-founded Anera in 1967, my family and I  little  imagined the many years of suffering you would have to  endure. Now at this terrible time, we want you to know that we shall always remain committed to you and shall always cherish you and your families. 

We mourn with you the loss of your dear colleague, Mousa Shawa,  whom my son, Jim, met and so admired on his Anera trips to Gaza. We are eternally grateful to Mousa and to all of you for your courage and for your dedication to the mission of Anera under such horrendous conditions of war and deprivation.

We are praying for your safety and that of your families.

With my gratitude, Betty Sams (wife of Anera founder, Jim Sams)

As Salam Wa Alaikum. Ramadan Kareem. We are devastated by the death, destruction, and suffering in Palestine. The loss of Mousa deeply saddened us all, Allah yarhamo. We are humbled and inspired by all the ANERA staff through your dedication, generosity, care, and great work. Our thoughts and dua are with you. We will continue to try to change the situation there, Inshallah. Jazak Allah Khair. (board member) Omar Zalatimo

As I write to you in Gaza, I am totally at loss of how to convey our solidarity with you and our heartbreak for what you and the people of Gaza are going through. People will call you heroes, but the best description for you is that you have not lost your humanity and have put it above all else. I only wish we could do more for you, because as we say in Arabic اللي بوكل العصي مش زي اللي بعدها I bow my head to your dedication and sacrifices.

(board member) Alfred Khoury

Our hopes and prayers are with you during this difficult time. We care, we love you and we stand as one. #Unity  –  (US staffer) Demeco Ricks

Messages from people attending an Anera iftar fundraiser for Gaza.
Messages from people attending an Anera iftar fundraiser for Gaza.

I weep as I read your update. I am beyond words and the pieces of my broken heart are scattered. Where, I do not know? We work every day to change the minds and hearts of our seemingly intransigent and ineffective “leaders” who decry death but do nothing to stop it. I am so sorry for the many losses and I hope that Moussa and Kareem are happy together again, where bombs will never fall. With all my love and respect.  –  (education committee member) Fred Rogers

My heart is breaking as I watch your plight.  I feel helpless, sad, angry, and utterly disheartened that this man-made tragedy could be happening in our world.

The Anera staff has felt this horror in so many ways - I’m certain that every man, woman and child feels like family, and yet you persist in your efforts to help. 

You are so brave.  My thoughts are with you all.  Be safe.  Thank you.

(education committee member) Mary Afifi

Our dear colleagues in Gaza,

You are in my prayers. Your faith is your power. 

اذا كان الله معك ، فمن عليك؟ 

Please stay strong.. May Allah grant you patience. 

All the love, (Lebanon staffer) Sarah Hachem

In these challenging times, our hearts go out to the resilient people of Gaza. Seeing your strength and perseverance in tough times gives us hope. We stand with you in solidarity, wishing for peace, security, and better days ahead for you and your loved ones. You're not alone; we're here in support, hoping for a peaceful tomorrow.

Best, (Jordan staffer) Hadeel Abu Obaid

Art by Hadeel
Art by Hadeel

Thank you for all that you do. Your bravery and perseverance during these times does not go unnoticed. You are saving lives and I feel so proud to support your work, you are truly heroes . I wish you safety and health, and hopefully peace will come soon. Sending love, gratitude, and support from the US.  –  (US staffer) Anna Scherer

Friends and Family in Gaza, 

You are in our thoughts and prayers always. We love you dearly, and admire your strength and courage. Truth be told, we will never be free until Palestine is free. We stand with you in solidarity. 

Thank you for all that you are, all that you do, and all that you represent to us, and the world. 

With love, faith and continuous prayers for your safety and a peaceful Palestine. <3  (Lebanon staffer) Reem Aziz

(US staffer) Durann Dungee, singer

The heartbreak is profound. I can hardly imagine the feeling of being in Gaza now, fearing not only for oneself but for loved ones. Know that while it may seem the world has abandoned Gaza  –  millions of people around the world are with you. All of you – doing whatever you can to help those around you despite the horrors and in the worst imaginable conditions – represent the best of humanity. We value every message, every update, every photo that we get from you all. I fervently hope to see each one of you in person, safe and living in peace, in a day not too distant.  –  (UU staffer) Steve Fake

To my beloved Gaza friends:

I have had the great privilege to be able to visit Gaza many times. I think you know that it has always been my favorite part of any Middle East trip to be with you all and to enjoy the special culture of Gaza. It breaks my heart to think about what you have lost, and what the world has lost, in this senseless nakba.

And, now, to lose Mousa -- who was full of life, always had a smile, and was always there quietly taking care of everything. I loved the guy and we weren't even able to really communicate!

I cannot fathom the grief you all must be holding, not just for Mousa and little Kareem, but for all the people of Gaza and the places that make up the landscape of your lives. The strength it takes to feel such pain while continuing to do your work is hard to comprehend. Yet, somehow you do it.

I'm so grateful to be able, in my small way, to support the amazing work you are doing. I am proud to be on your team and to call you my friends. I send you all hugs and my fervent wishes that the horror will end soon.  –  (US staffer) Liz Demarest

One of my favorite Anera pictures (Liz)
One of my favorite Anera pictures (Liz)

My heart goes out to Mousa’s family and to all the Gaza staff who must endure his loss while still keeping themselves and their own families alive and safe in the unimaginable conditions that now define life in Gaza. To all my former colleagues in Gaza, I can sadly offer only my prayers that this horrible war and deprivation end as quickly as possible.

Mousa was one of the kindest, most generous people I knew in Anera Gaza, and that’s saying something in an office where each and every Anera staff gave of themselves, every day, without hesitation, to support those in need. Mousa was always there: to drive, to get food, to maintain the office, and to keep working relationships with authorities smooth and uninterrupted. Mousa was an incredible advocate for the work of Anera in Gaza; people listened to him and respected his knowledge, practical skills (he could fix anything), his sense of humor, and his commitment to Anera.

I offer my deepest condolences to Mousa’s family, and I pray for the safety of all Anera staff in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and Jordan. 

Jack Byrne

Dear Anera Gaza: Please know that we continue to think of all of you every day, with sadness and grief over your immense suffering and loss of family and friends, and with great admiration for the heroic work you are doing to provide relief and assistance to your communities in the face of such desperate and dangerous conditions. It is impossible to imagine all that you are going through. It was an honor and a privilege to have been able to spend some (short) time with you in July, and I hope and pray for the opportunity to see you all again soon. We pray for your safety and health, for peace, and for relief for you, your families, and all Palestinians.

Sincerely, (former board member) Jim Sams

Dear Anera Family:

As a board member and cochair of the health committee, I would like to share my sincere grief, and condolences to all of you on the loss of our beloved Mousa Shawwa.

Mousa and each of you are role models in heroism, strength, empathy and courage. You are appreciated by all whose lives you touch, not least of whom are us- those who try to support your work from afar.

We love you, admire you, and salute you all. We mourn with you and pray with you all for peace and justice. We pray for and will continue to work for your safety and well-being.

May Mousa rest in peace and may his memory be eternal.

Sincerely, (board member) Nabil Khoury

Art from (board member) Allison Hills' daughter Eloise
Art from (board member) Allison Hills' daughter Eloise