An Article Published in This Week in Palestine by one of our own, Eyas Al-Homouz:
The avid cyclists amongst us flew in with their bikes. The beginners, including yours truly, had to rent bikes in Turkey. Our bikes were mountain bikes compared with the road bikes the pros had. Mountain bikes are a bit slower than the road bikes and that didn’t fare well with the other cyclists who had to wait for us newbies. On the other hand, road bikes are prone to having flats. On one stretch Amr Bin Halim and Mohammad Alami, two of the experienced cyclists, had several of these and ended up riding the bus. We newbies were kind enough not to gloat, or not too much anyway.
The trip was not only about getting our message across, but also about getting to know others. Mina*, our other tour guide, was an award winning cyclist who sought asylum in Turkey from his native Iran because of religious discrimination. Listening to him tell his heart-wrenching story gave us eye-opening insight into discrimination directed against minorities. Mina was forbidden from participating in global evens outside of his native Iran purely because of his religious beliefs.
The outcome of the trip has made me appreciate just how powerful and influential each and every person can be. The group managed to raise a substantial amount of money for Medical Aid for Palestine, a well-deserving organisation, while also promoting awareness about the Palestinian cause. So, after a thrilling, memorable, and outstanding experience, I decided to do it again this year.
Fundraising, it turns out, is not as hard as I first thought. All you have to do is constantly nag your family and close friends, and flood their Facebook pages with links to your fundraising page, while reminding them, just in case they forget it for a minute, that every small donation counts, and every single individual can make a difference. So, all of you reading this, consider yourselves reminded and make sure to click on the link at the end of the article to support this year’s initiative.
This year’s trip will take us to Germany. On September 18th, we will cycle a distance of 360 km from Hamburg to Berlin with a whopping 45 cyclists of different nationalities and backgrounds. This year we are fundraising in support of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund’s REACH Gaza project. The 6-year siege on the Gaza Strip has not only caused a chronic shortage of medical equipment and supplies in Gaza, it has also prevented children and their families from travelling freely in the West Bank and abroad in order to receive the urgent care and treatment they need. REACH Gaza (Reaching Every Affected Child in Gaza) aims to improve and strengthen the currently underdeveloped healthcare system in Gaza, particularly when it comes to providing surgery for children in need of medical care.
I would encourage people to get involved and support the initiative. Cycling4Gaza is not just a cycling challenge, it is an opportunity to be engaged and to actively make a difference. It is as much a test of mental willpower as it is physical prowess, and, above all, it is about increasing awareness of and supporting a cause so dear to many of our hearts.
*Mina’s name was changed to protect his identity.
Eyas Alhomouz, an activist and energy executive, currently trades off between living in the Gulf and the USA. Eyas has an academic background and training in both engineering and economics. He grew up in Ramallah. “