We are writing to you from Istanbul, on the eve of our fourth cycling challenge since the founding of Cycling4Gaza in 2009. That year what spurred us on to create the initiative was the military offensive that devastated the Gaza Strip and left the region in a humanitarian crisis. What spurs us on today is a reality that has existed for Palestinians in Gaza since before the war. The Gaza Strip stands at its fifth year under an Israeli blockade deemed illegal by the UN. As education and healthcare continue to suffer, as the psychological state of a people living without basic freedom continues to deteriorate, the world remains largely silent, and people in the Gaza Strip go on with their daily lives. Further north and across the border into Lebanon, over 400,000 Palestinians refugees live a life of perpetual waiting. Generations have lived and died in these camps, where the first flood of Palestinians settled in 1948, believing they would only be there a short time before returning to Palestine. Year after year the camps expand, not sideways, but up towards the sky, as more and more children are born into this limbo world. Marginalised from society, lacking basic civil and social rights, and forgotten by too many.
This year Cycling4Gaza has been working to raise awareness about the ongoing siege on Gaza, and on the situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. In less than 24 hours, 33 people will begin a 350km cycle across Turkey in support of Palestinians living under occupation and as refugees. We aim to raise £200,000 for three critical healthcare projects administered by MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians) that will support the training of new cohorts of doctors, nurses, midwives, social workers, and members of the community to deliver quality healthcare to Palestinians living in adverse conditions. We have so far raised over £60,000. This will cover one project in Gaza. With your help and support, we hope that our target will be within reach by the end of this month so that all three projects can go ahead.
There is a lot that you can do to support us in our mission. Before you do anything else, forward this message on to at least ten of your friends. Help us spread the word about what we are doing. Next, join our Facebook page and help us widen our reach there. Share our posts with your networks and keep up to date with our journey over the coming days. And finally, donate 🙂 visit www.justgiving.com/cycling4gaza2012. Remember that no donation is too small. £60 will train a doctor or nurse in primary trauma care so that they are able to save a life in an emergency situation. £260 trains two doctors or nurses so that they can save the life of a new mother who has had a complicated childbirth.
With the incredible support of our friends, family, colleagues and networks we have been able to ensure the implementation of ten projects in Gaza supporting maternal and child health, mental healthcare, early childhood education, and community rehabilitation. The organisations we are working with are making a tangible difference on the ground every day among vulnerable Palestinian communities, and most crucially they are fostering a culture of self-reliance and independence among Palestinians.
People need to come together in different ways in order to make a lasting, positive impact and to stand up against social injustices in communities around the world. We think that Cycling4Gaza is one of those ways.
Thank you for your continuous support, and make sure you keep up to date with our progress on the Turkey cycle by checking our website and Facebook page for live updates.
Tamara & the Cycling4Gaza team