In the summer of 2014, the world watched as rockets descended upon the Gaza Strip, a territory of land measuring only 141 square miles and containing a dense population of nearly two million people. According to the UN, over 2,000 Palestinians lost their lives, including 1,462 innocent civilians. Countless schools, hospitals, mosques, and churches also came under fire, including a United Nations shelter. Amidst the high casualty rate, over 11,900 homes were completely destroyed and about 140,000 homes were damaged. In response to the widespread destruction, Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) is in the beginning stages of launching an extensive reconstruction project to help rebuild infrastructure across Gaza.
For over a decade, ZF has been providing humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza. As part of the Rebuilding Gaza campaign, ZF has partnered with the United Nations Refugee Work Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian Refugees to provide a sustainable development program. The campaign will include minor and major repair to damaged infrastructure, including shelters and homes. ZF representatives in Gaza will be working closely with UNRWA to ensure implementation and eventual success of this project. The first phase of the project aims to reconstruct 28 homes, but ZF’s ultimate goal is to reach 500 families.
In the neighborhood of Farrahin, Summaya, an elderly Palestinian lady who has witnessed decades of war, stands in front of her home - or what’s left of it. It once contained four floors, now reduced to piles of rubble and debris. Summaya’s family still lives on the same street except they now spend their nights sleeping in a tent. A few blocks away, Mahmoud is visiting the remains of his old home with his son. “I cannot describe my feeling,” said Mahmoud. “My children had a room full of toys here. Now they are sleeping on the sand. The suffering is indescribable.”
There are countless stories like Summaya’s and Mahmoud’s. According to Adnan Abu Hasna, a media advisor to the UNRWA, about half a million individuals had their homes damaged from the 2014 conflict. These families abandoned their destroyed homes and are now living in overcrowded UN-sponsored schools. For ZF, the Gaza reconstruction project will be one of the largest humanitarian campaigns of the year, and, with God’s blessing, it will be a successful one.