Would you help a smart, ambitious Palestinian father in Gaza pay $60 to renew his passport so he has a chance for a better life for himself and his family elsewhere?
I will share all the details if you are truly interested.
I first heard from M in April on Facebook. I'm easy to find and I hear from people trapped in Gaza fairly often.
"I am M from Palestine, from the Gaza Strip. We live in bad economic conditions as a result of the Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip for more than ten years. I have a family of five. Can you stand with me and help me"
I receive lots of messages like this and always reply. So many people in Gaza are desperate and ask for money. I cannot help much with money, but try to let them know that at least someone is listening and cares.
M wrote a week later, "It is very bad, we work to breathe. We only breathe but without life. Stand with me and help me. Sir, I beg you. We live in the worst days of my life. I want some money to buy the needs of my family and my sick daughter."
I decided to send $50 and did.
M wrote, "Thank you sir, you are a wonderful person. I have been able to purchase the needs of my family and children. Long time my family did not eat like this. Thank you. Thank you. If you have friends that can help, my page can even communicate with me."
M wrote again as Ramadan was approaching and asked me to help again so he could feed his family. I was feeling financial compassion fatigue and wrote back and forth with him but told him I would not send more money.
A month later, near the end of Ramadan and the coming of 'Eid, he wrote again asking for money so his children could have clothes and something special to eat for 'Eid. Again, I felt tapped out and responded with kindness, I hope, but said that I wouldn't send money.
On June 25, M wrote, "Sir: How are you, I'm very sorry if you are disturbed, but I have a lot of problems here, my family needs food and drink, and my daughter Jana is sick and she needs medication, please stand with me, for the last time. There can be a war over the coming period, it can be very soon. So I have to provide some of my family's needs, .. and also the medicine Jana."
I felt absolutely terrible. I have raised three kids. I have had tight times and been helped. Compared to M, I have so very, very much. Yet, I just did not want to send more money and I told him so. I thought this one family's needs are essentially endless. And there are millions of desperate people in this world. They all need help. How can I know when to help and when to say no? But, I did. I said no. It was hard for me -- and harder for M, I am sure.
Then, a week ago M wrote, "I do not know what to do, I do not have a job for a long time. I wish I could be able to get out of here to any other country. The time has been lost and we are waiting, more than ten years and we did not do anything, just waiting for the return of electricity."
M is highly educated and multi-skilled -- degrees in business administration, journalism and media. He was a journalist for AP and years ago traveled to Egypt and Malaysia. He is resourceful and persistent. He has great potential. I know others who recently have managed to get out of Gaza and begin a new life elsewhere. With Egypt opening the border at Rafah which was closed for years, M now has a chance to get out. M had a passport but it expired in 2014. He asked if I would help with the NIS160 fee for passport renewal (CDN$60/US$45). I agreed and tonight sent him that amount. With MoneyGram service charges, it cost me a total of $71.07.
I asked on my Facebook page if anyone would help share that cost. Several friends stepped up very generously and did that. So, that is done, ברוך ה', الحمد لله .
I hear from others in Gaza and want to help them. Today, a woman calling herself Warda wrote to me. I offered online friendship. She replied, "I am very happy with your friendship but I have 6 children and my husband is sick and I do not have money to buy food please help me."
If you would like, join with me. We can consolidate several small donations from us all and send them to people to are absolutely desperate. Also, I can tell you who they are and you can contact them directly on FB. Let me know if you want to do either of these.
We must do all we can to make systemic changes that will free these fellow humans from the brutal oppression that we contribute to maintaining. Meanwhile, we can help with direct, immediate needs of at least a few people who deserve as much in this material world as we do.
We've given money to a person that helps local refugees in our community. We know the person and have some degree of immediate knowledge of what our money has gone towards.
I'd never give money to some random person on Facebook, no matter how tough their story is. Odds are they are on the make. My personal opinion is that you are probably on the make. It might be a flaw in my character but I've watched enough people get strung along by a good bit of story telling to use a good deal of caution when people have their hands out.
Sorry if that offends you, hope you aren't getting taken and I hope you aren't pretending to be something you aren't to make a sleazy buck.