By Susan Schwartz, MMNS
KinderUSA held a highly successful banquet and fundraiser Friday evening at the Embassy Suites in Garden Grove, Ca. Titled: Preparing the Future: Nurturing Children Today, the event drew more that 300 people. KinderUSA stands for Kids in Need of Development, Education and Relief. A silent auction preceded the dinner.
Dr. Laila Al Marayati, the Chair of KinderUSA, gave the opening remarks. She spoke about the work of her organization and of the destitute conditions of children in Gaza, the West Bank and refugee camps in Lebanon. Film clips of these children were displayed on a large screen during her opening remarks and throughout the evening meal. A recitation from the Qu’ran followed. In keeping with the evening’s theme, two young girls, one of whom was the daughter of Dr. Al Marayati, delivered prayers.
Dr. Al Marayati observed that just when one thought that the situation in Gaza vis a vis children could not deteriorate further, that is precisely what has happened.
“Children should have as much of a future in Gaza as they do anywhere in the world”. said Dr. Al Marayati.
After evening prayer and an excellent dinner, the program continued with a presentation by Jihad Turk, the Religious Director of the Islamic Center of Southern California.
Bother Turk reminded his audience that all bounty comes from Allah. In referencing the Islamic obligation of Zakat, he said that in Arabic the core word means purification.
He stressed the noble character of giving to those under occupation and oppression.
Mary Hughes Thompson needed no introduction to the audience. She spent much of the pre event hour in the lobby talking to guests about her adventures sailing to Gaza. As part of the expedition of internationals who recently broke the Israeli blockade of Gaza by courageously sailing from Cyprus to the Gaza Mediterranean coast, she mesmerized the audience. Ms Thompson spoke of the difficulties in planning and raising money; of the number of people who shared their vision but were pessimistic; of the fear that Israel would attack them; of cruel hot days, cold nights, and choppy seas as they sailed, and of jammed communications.
“I did not realize what these people went through and how brave they are” said one young woman in the audience.
Ramzy Baroud was the featured speaker. He is an author, a journalist and the Editor in Chief of the on line Palestine Chronicle. When Dr. Al Marayati introduced him she spoke of the aid he gave to two KinderUSA members, Dr. Dallel Mohammed and Dr. Riad AbdelKarim, when they were unlawfully detained by Israel in 2002. While he had never met them, he worked tirelessly to gather support for their cause.
Mr. Baroud spoke of a child in Gaza on a dialysis machine. The machine is old and barely working and then only when Israel permits electricity to flow into Gaza.. His condition is hopeless, yet his mother has not given up hope in her search for medicine for her child.
Fund raising followed. When the evening ended, the attendees spoke about the information they had gathered from the speakers and were clearly impressed by the work of KinderUSA.
KinderUSA was founded in 2002 by a group of dedicated doctors and volunteer humanitarians. KinderUSA now has permanent 501(c)3 status and has offices in Brussels, Belgium and Dallas, Texas. The organization helps the most vulnerable of the needy -the children. KinderUSA partners with respected Non Governmental organizations (NGOs) and seeks always to provide lasting solutions that promote self reliance.
To learn more about KinderUSA and to make a contribution, please access them at: www.kinderusa.org.