Team Olive Gaza created their own team logo to celebrate their team spirit!

Team Olive Gaza created their own team logo to celebrate their team spirit!

This is the first year UNRWA USA is taking the Gaza 5K south to Houston, Texas, but the members of Team Olive Gaza are already fundraising like seasoned pros. Together, this powerhouse team has raised $6,700 (and counting!) for mental health services for Palestine refugee children in the Gaza Strip.

They shared with UNRWA USA what drew them to the cause and why they’re spending a Saturday morning in November moving for mental health.

[UNRWA USA]: Why is your team participating in and fundraising for the Houston Gaza 5K?

[Team Olive Gaza]: It’s an event we could relate to and a worthy humanitarian effort. We felt we could use our network to make a positive impact and give back. 

I am just one generation removed from a family that was displaced - my parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents were refugees. Were it not for the amazing work that UNRWA started in Palestine decades ago, displaced families would have had no place to go; their children would not have been clothed; and thousands would not have been fed. My very own family were among those who received UNRWA assistance, and as a result were able to flourish. At the time, UNRWA seemed to be their only salvation. Generations later, Palestinian refugees share the same struggles as their ancestors from decades past, yet have now been threatened with the de-funding of one of their few allies.
— Aseel Saqer, Team Olive Gaza

[UNRWA USA]: Who is on your team? What drew you all to come together for Palestine refugees?

[Team Olive Gaza]: We are a group of friends and family, the children of Middle Eastern immigrants. Some of us are Palestinians whose families received and relied on UNRWA assistance many years ago. A free Palestine is a cause we try to stand behind in any way we can — that includes supporting those displaced by an occupied Palestine.

Team Olive Gaza

Team Olive Gaza

Aseel, one of the members of team Olive Gaza, explained why she participates saying, “the recent US government decision to defund UNRWA does not have to put an end to UNRWA's good work in the occupied Palestinian territory. We can make a difference ourselves. I am doing a small part by running in the 2018 Houston Gaza 5K, and I hope to gain others’ support and awareness.”

[UNRWA USA]: The Houston Gaza 5K raises money for UNRWA mental health services for Palestine refugee kids in the Gaza Strip. What does mental health mean to your team?

[Team Olive Gaza]: As long as we live in a political climate that continues to create refugees, we need to take care of them. It is no secret that Gaza is an open air prison and its children have endured the psychological trauma of war many times over. Mental health care for these children means giving them an emotional outlet to express and cope with their trauma. 

[UNRWA USA]: Does your team have a message you'd like to share with your fundraising competitors and fellow Houston participants?

[Team Olive Gaza]: Get your cardio in for a cause! Most of us have to hire babysitters to get out there and run on the 17th. Just remember that when you hear excuses as to why someone can’t make it — it’s worth showing up for refugees and you won’t regret it!