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American Friends of UNRWA (UNRWA USA) has spent the past four years growing a community of more than 4,400 participants across the United States raising more than $634,000 for UNRWA’s Community Mental Health Program (CMHP) which has directly provided psycho-social counseling to over 21,000 Palestine refugee children in Gaza. The organization’s signature event, the Gaza 5Kwalk/run, will be held for the third time in San Francisco on Saturday, October 17 at Lake Merced Park and for the second time in Orange County on Saturday, October 24 at Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley, California. 

The Gaza 5K is a fundraiser for UNRWA’s CMHP which helps to mitigate the psychological impact resulting from the prevailing violence, economic hardship and isolation of the Gaza refugee population. This year an aggressive goal of 600 participants has been set in hopes of raising $100,000 in San Francisco, and a goal of 500 participants in Orange County in hopes of raising $75,000. 

UNRWA USA Executive Director Abby Smardon says: “In March, I visited Gaza and was overwhelmed by what I saw nearly a year after the brutal summer 2014 assault. Parents tearfully telling me about losing children in the assault; families now living in UNRWA schools because they have nowhere else to go; deeply traumatized children rummaging through the rubble of what was once their homes. One of the only glimmers of hope I witnessed, was an UNRWA art therapy session, where children living in UNRWA schools were able to express themselves freely and receive critical support for the trauma they're facing. To hear children describe in vivid detail memories of family members being killed is something that forever changes you, but so does seeing that same child get the intensive counseling he needs. Without mental health support, what future do these children have? What future does Gaza have? We must do more to ensure these children receive critical support and hope for the future, and the Gaza 5K allows people in the US to do just that.” 

Later this month Abby is set to race at the Orange County event

Join this incredible movement to bring individuals, teams, and the community together. Participants can register online at gaza5k.org. Those unable to participate in the 2015 race, but would like to show their support can also make a donation. All donations to UNRWA USA are tax-exempt. Learn more about UNRWA USA at unrwausa.org

UNRWA USA is an independent 501c3 non-profit organization that provides support for the humanitarian work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). UNRWA USA aims to educate the general American public about the situation of Palestine refugees and generate support for UNRWA’s programs. 

Media Contact:

Laila Mokhiber
Communications Officer
UNRWA USA
laila@unrwausa.org

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