This blog entry is part of a series of pieces written to promote the 2012 Gaza Camp Summer Camp, a summer camp for 50 boys and 50 girls that will take place from June 24th to July 14th. More can be learned by visiting the website for the nonprofit behind the summer camp – the Middle East Fitness Initiative – at www.mideastfit.com. Gaza Camp is a community of ex-Gazan Palestinian refugees approximately 45 km north of Amman, Jordan.
First of all, I should say that I don’t like kids. Some people claim that I am “good with kids.” This is only true in the sense that I am at the same level of maturity as most children; when it may appear that I am “playing with the kids,” in fact it is really just me being myself with my emotional peers. In fact, I view most children with a degree of wariness as competitors for attention.
So why have I been spending my spring and summer organizing a summer camp for the rowdy boys (and remarkably polite and well-behaved girls) of Gaza Camp?
Because it is my duty.
I don’t like all of the emails involved in planning this summer camp. I don’t like the stress of fundraising. I don’t like the time that it detracts from my professional responsibilities. That being said, this project is within my limited abilities, and therefore I consider it a duty I am obligated to fulfill. I believe that we must all do what we can – no more, no less – to improve the world we share.
Last year I was on the ground coordinating the first Gaza Camp Summer Camp, so inexperience is not an excuse. Funds can now be legally raised though our nonprofit, MEFI, so lack of fundraising capacity is not an excuse. Finally, I cannot say that I do not have the necessary support here in Jordan, as I have two incredible partners – Jackie Sofia as the Project Director and fellow MEFI board member Ismail Siam – to share (in Jackie’s case, carry most of) the burden in this endeavor.
And thus here I am, writing this blog entry and asking you to support a cause that may be thousands of miles from where you live. I am not asking you to support this summer camp so that we can “put smiles on children’s face,” but rather to help us build a bridge between the socially and economically marginalized residents of Gaza Camp and those from Amman, America, Europe, and the rest of the world. We want our campers and local staff members to learn something from the cultures of our volunteers, whether they are coming from privileged West Amman, the United States, or Europe.
In turn, we want our volunteers to learn something of the generosity, hospitality, and determination – in the face of severe hardship – of the residents of Gaza Camp.
We need $6,500 dollars to fund the summer camp, and more if we hope to expand our operations and begin supporting women’s fitness programming in some of Jordan’s rural, underdeveloped communities. As things now stand, we are halfway towards our fundraising goal for the summer camp, with one more week before we begin. I hope you will help us make sure that we get the rest of the way there.