From Gaza, with Love

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Riad Hamad 1952-2008

Riad Hamad

Under very suspicious and tragic circumstances, Riad passed away, leaving all of us who have known him shocked and traumatized. For those of us who worked closely with him to support the Palestinian children and keep the right of return alive in the world conscience,
Riad will be always remembered. His memory will stay inside us providing a great source of inspiration to continue working for Palestine and the Palestinian children.

I want share with YOU what I wrote as soon as I heard the tragic news of Riad's death.

I also would like to let you all know that the New Horizon Center For Children in Nussierat Refugee Camp has decided to name the English and Computer Room that was funded via Riad and Palestinian Children's Welfare Fund efforts in loving memory of RIAD HAMAD .

I am speechless, shocked and do not know what to write. How can I pass this piece of sad news to thousands of Palestinian children in Gaza that he supported and opened a window of hope and love to them and their families?

Riad, you are not allowed to die. Please rest in peace. Sure, you need to rest, but you will stay alive inside all of us who have known you and share the same vision, working hard to change the world and give the less privileged a chance for a dignified life. Your kindness, your big
heart, your strong will and your determination will stay alive in us. We will never surrender to oppression, injustice and occupation. We will never give up our right of return. And one day peace and justice will prevail.

Riad Elsolh Hamad wrote:
27 Aug 2007

Dear Mona,
I wish that you could have the luxury of taking a month vacation where you do not have to worry about the innocent children, women and families who depend on you and your talents to connect them with the outside world...It would be great for you to leave for few months if that did not mean that hundreds and thousands of children in Gaza would go hungry, go to sleep
cold or be deprived of medicine or school supplies..It would be great if you can go to the Greek Isles..provided no fires are there to consume one of the most dedicated and compassionate people on earth..Mona, I hate to break it to you..but you do not belong to Basma or do not belong to your belong to the people of Gaza and Rafah who
look up to you as a sister..a mother, a organizer and a friend....yes, you may say I am tired all you want..and you can say that you are exhausted a million times a day and I will save you the trouble and record it with your voice so you do not even have to say CANNOT give CANNOT give in...YOU MAY NOT stop what you have started...a fire of compassion and love for the children of Gaza from all us who know you and know your sincerity and dedication for the children in Gaza...please do take a couple of pills , and I will pay for them...BUT Dr. Hamad says..listen young woman... get a good nap...drink a strong cup of Arabic coffee in the morning and look into the sea of Gaza..when the sun comes up...and look carefully..because you will see another sun...the sun of freedom for Sundos and Basma to travel from Gaza to anywhere they want..the sun of freedom which will allow ALL the children of Gaza to enjoy their lives without fear, hunger or bombings that would take their innocents lives away....I wish I can be there in Gaza to tell you a joke or two to get you to smile...or to remind you that yes, it could be worse....The Israelis could have won the war last summer and Lebanon could have been suffering from more settlements and more settlers...we are with you..we are next to strong..just be yourself..BE MONA....
Riad Hamad

mona El-farra wrote:
marhaba Riad
do i have the right to say that i am tired exhausted , drained and very sad?
no i do not have this right , while watching my people dying of hunger,stress , lack of clear future , cruel closure and sanctions ,my people suffer ,of this longlasting occupation , ongoing atrocities ,diffrent sorts and kinds of agressions and deprivitions, this population is hold hostage, in small place called Gaza ,how can i say that i am so tired , while i need to stay strong and meet thedaily needs of people , specialy children .
Dear friend
Do you have any special suggestions
Mona ElFarra

That is how Riad Hamad showed his solidarity, supported me when things were so unbearable and I needed a friend to listen and support while living in Gaza under the cruel siege, sanctions and occupation.


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    By Blogger Admin - Retail in Dubai, at 4/24/2008 12:17 PM  

  • Dear Mona,

    Thank you for the beautiful tribute to our dearly beloved Riad. We wanted to contact you the moment we knew, before his death was made public, but I could'nt find your email address or phone number.

    I know how much Riad valued your friendship, how much he admired and loved you. He was such a special man, wasn't he? How on earth did he manage to do so many things for so many people and never seem to run out of energy or good humor?

    We can never replace him, but I know his work will continue somehow. We will take what we have remaining of his olive oil, his flag pins, his bumper stickers and his Palestinian embroidery to the Al-Awda Convention and sell them for him.

    With one of Riad's last emails to me he sent photographs of Marian in Gaza. Please let me know how I can continue to send help to her family.

    To Gaza with Love,
    Mary in Los Angeles

    By Blogger Mary Hughes Thompson, at 4/25/2008 3:44 AM  

  • Dearest Mona,

    Thank you for posting this. More than a week later, it is still hard to believe he is gone, and that I can't call or e-mail him to talk to him about upcoming projects or just life in general. When I heard the news I thought of you immediately and how sad it would be when you found out. I hope you are doing OK.

    Thank you for posting those e-mails. They say so much about him and who he was. He never failed to jump in if someone needed him, and that is too rare in people in general, and too common in those who leave us too soon.

    I look forward to being back in Gaza with all of you, and seeing how the computer room is coming along. It is beautiful that it was named in his honor. Inshallah, we will all live in his honor, too.

    Thank you for everything you do, and please stay strong. There is a lot of love for you here.

    Love always and forever,

    By Blogger Sarah Price, at 4/25/2008 11:45 PM  

  • Dear Mona,

    I am so sorry to hear about your friend, and that he was a person you have lost who cared so much about the children. Our children are our future, we must protect them, show them how precious they are to us, show them how much they are loved and how their lives have meaning and value. Each child is special and unique and deserves to live in a world that they have an opportunity to dream impossible dreams and make them come true.

    I want to share with you a letter I am sending in various forms to US leaders and potential future leaders about the charity and orphanages and schools the IDF is trying to close down in Hebron:

    Dear President Bush,

    Saturday morning, in Hebron, Israeli forces stormed the sewing factory of the Islamic Charitable Society. The IDF issued a mandate in the occupied southern West Bank city that employees must evacuate within two days, that ownership will be overtaken and the Israelis will close the factory. This is despite the fact that Israeli courts ordered the IDF to present evidence that the charity had ties to Hamas, IDF has not complied, and courts have not yet addressed the issue,

    We see that the IDF does not abide by Israeli courts, as well as international courts (their decision on the illegal separation barrier, the Wall) and the UN (UN Charter prohibits acquisition of land by war and Resolutions Order Israel to withdraw from Occupied Territories). They do not abide by the UN Charter and human rights treaties, to include the Fourth Geneva Convention (committing extensive ongoing war crimes). They terrorize and steal and kidnap and murder with impunity, with US money and the blessings of many purported US Christians. There is no justice for Palestinians in Occupied Palestine.

    Workers report IDF also stormed the house of the operator, which is also an orphanage. Israeli authorities are still threaening to confiscate the orphanage and close it as of 4/28/08, for three years.

    IDF threatened personnel and workers that if they maintain a presence after this date, they would be arrested for five years.

    Will they arrest the children , the orphans, for 5 years as well?

    Will they throw them on the street?

    Will they murder them? What are a few hundred more children to add to the over 800 children they have murdered since 9/2000, each child you can read about on the website of Israeli Human Rights Organization, Btselem.

    Will the American CPT members sleepover Sunday night, again? They were planning to. Will the IDF murder them, too, like they killed American Rachel Corrie, with a Caterpillar bulldozer as she tried to save the home of a Palestinian that was being destroyed by Israel?

    Are there any limits on how low the Israeli government will sink, how despicable they can act?

    There already have been numerous raids on the charity, without a showing the charity has done absolutely anything illegal. The IDF forces stormed the orphanage and sewing factory weeks ago, detained workers and confiscated equipment. The same situation occurred in the charitable bakery owned by the ICM.

    The sewing factory opened in 1985 and supplies clothing for more than 4,000 orphans, while other pieces are sold in the markets and this brings in needed revenue for the charities to operate.

    The Israelis have been widely condemned for such a blatant attack on the Palestinian people. There have been student demonstrations. There have been statements by political parties. “This is considered a crime against property, facilities, and charities, yet the international community has remained silent,” the People’s Committee stated.

    A spokesperson for Former US President Jimmy Carter , who has been called a bigot by Israeli officials over the past few days, was present at a Press Conference for the Charity on Thursday.

    The campaign to save the orphans and charitable institutions has appealed to human rights and humanitarian organizations for assistance.

    Is there any hope the orphans can still be saved? I pray for justice for them, I cry out to God for justice for them.

    Do you care about helpless, defenseless children in Hebron, Mr President? Do you care?

    Please help these children. I implore you, if there is anything human inside your heart, if there is any love in your heart, please show it now for these children.


    Sherri L Munnerlyn

    I have been reading about the horrible things happening in Gaza, the murder of a 14 year old girl, the cutting off of food shipments by the UN because Israel denies them fuel. How can the world sit back and let these things happen?
    My prayers are with you. Justice will ultimately prevail, God will see to that.

    Love, Sherri

    By Blogger Sherri Munnerlyn, at 4/27/2008 2:57 PM  

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    By Blogger Admin - Retail in Dubai, at 4/27/2008 4:05 PM  

  • Mona, stay strong
    you and the children are not forgotten.

    By Blogger Karin, at 4/28/2008 2:38 AM  

  • Mona,
    Thank you for leaving this wonderful post about Riad.
    Riad had many many wonderful friends who’s hearts are bleeding because of his passing.
    I have known Riad for many years. I have been an avid supporter of PCWF; many Olive trees have been panted in our name. In his many writings to me Riad was always first concerned about my husband who is disabled. In our small town we organized many fundraisers for the cause and we published articles in support of the Palestinian people, especially the children. Unfortunately our press tries to keep everything quite and keeps the majority of the American people oblivious about your situation.
    We are planning another big festival and fundraiser the end of August in memory of Riad and to collect funds for a person who is going to Gaza on her third tour to” help out”.
    Please Mona, be assured you and your people have not been forgotten.
    Since Riads passing my heart is very heavy; we morn with all of you.
    With love to you

    By Blogger Karin, at 4/28/2008 2:52 AM  

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