When the assault on Gaza was taking place something clicked. It wasn’t expected, it wasn’t planned for, and it just happened. It happened here, it happened there, it happened just about everywhere. People were outraged, as they always are, but this outrage manifested itself differently. People did not just sit at home and lament the latest Israeli tantrum. People poured out into the streets and took that outrage into action.

There were demonstrations, there were donation drives, there were organized activities, the blogosphere went crazy. People mobilized themselves and others in a way and with such determination that I had never seen before. But now what?

The energy that was generated was used in very productive and proactive ways at the time but now three weeks after Israel “withdrew” that energy is nowhere to be seen. Activism is not a way of life here. We are not volunteers by nature. Yet this experience has proved we have what it takes to make a difference in each other’s lives and in the lives of those we don’t know. So why cant we keep up the momentum? Why do we only have to react and respond to emergencies? Can we not build this kind of community today and sustain it?

I have a friend who made a comment that sticks with me and is very relevant “why do we have to volunteer for death, cant we work for life?”

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On Saturday January 17 2009 a community got together and donated time, effort and goods to Gaza. When I arrived I expected to see a few stalls and a few people instead I saw every possible space at the YWCA filled with stalls goods and people.

 

Young and old had volunteered to do various roles from setting up the shoe throwing game, to selling raffle tickets, young musicians had volunteered their voices for a concert and the stalls were filled with various wares from used books to handmade jewelry and such. Stall proceeds were pledged to the cause and they ranged from 100% to 10% of profits and proceeds going to Gaza. The goal was to raise JD 1000 to use for medical supplies and goods.

 

After seven hours of giving and taking, after a lot of running around, people started to tidy up and put away their wares. Happily tired volunteers were packing what little was left of the donations that came through for sale. And as the money was being counted we quickly realized we had exceeded our expectations of JD 1000. Slowly we counted 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, and 5555 Jordanian Dinars (USD7845) in sales, proceeds, and donations ALL GOING TO GAZA.

 

Well done, one and all! Well done to every one that pitched in, to everyone that brought or made something to sell and to everyone that brought their wallets and emptied them out.  I would also like to thank the women behind this event (this event was initiated and run and 90% manned by women from the community).

 

In my opinion, what we saw that day was amazing and worth much more in human spirit and generosity. The community came together and it didn’t matter where they were from, what religion they were, what color or creed, what nationality. That day we were all humans out to help other humans in need. Thank you for reaffirming to me that humanity still exists in this ever growing and alienating city.