The NYU Law Students for Justice in Palestine is a team of 19 future lawyers and leaders. Many team members are back again this year after multiple years of participating in the event and passionately care about Palestine refugees, the deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip, and access to mental health services. Here are their words on what motivates them to move for mental health:
[UNRWA USA]: Why is your team fundraising for the kids in Gaza?
[NYU Law Students]: Today, after a ten-year blockade and three wars with Israel, Gaza’s population of 2 million are living on four hours of electricity a day. 46% of the population is unemployed, a number that rises to 64% among residents under 25. Gaza’s water, sewage, health and electricity systems are near complete collapse. In “the world’s largest open-air prison,” over half of the residents of Gaza are children. As individuals living in peace and relative prosperity, we can only try to grasp the effects of such a situation on the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children. To live, the population of Gaza, and its children, in particular, must depend on UNRWA.
[President] Trump’s decision to cut nearly $300 million in US funding to UNRWA at this critical moment amounts to a decision to hold the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians ransom. Using humanitarian aid as a bargaining chip is a stance our team finds abhorrent. We are fundraising against desperation and deprivation; first, to show our continuing support and admiration for the residents of Gaza, and second, to act against the latest of an endless series of injustices committed upon the Palestinians during the past 70 years of occupation.
[UNRWA USA]: Why is mental health an important issue to you and the rest of your team?
[NYU Law Students]: There are no words to describe the emotional burden that comes with living in a war zone—constant uncertainty, constant terror. It is crucial that Palestinian children receive mental health services in order to cope with current stresses and obtain some semblance of normality. This will enable them to maintain a path forward to realizing their potential and the potential of their community.
[UNRWA USA]: Do you have a message you'd like to share with your fundraising competitors?
[NYU Law Students]: Thank you for fundraising and we'll see you at the race!