Help Us Open A Volunteer Gym in The West Bank

There's no turning back now! We have received the first shipment from our friends in the West Bank for our one day only Pop-Up Shop For Palestine and need your help to make this event a success. Here is some information about the background and motivation behind the project.

The Aida Refugee Camp is home to over 5500 Palestinians living under severe Israeli occupation in the West Bank. It has been described as ‘the most teargassed place in the world’, with the Israeli army using the camp as a training ground for new troops and firing massive amounts of tear gas at the residents, including children. Direct quote from an Israeli soldier speaking through a megaphone to the residents of the camp: “We will hit you with tear gas until you all die. The children, the youth the old people. You will all die. We won't leave any of you alive”

This year I visited the camp on two occasions (March and August), and spent time at the Lajee Centre, which is an independent grassroots cultural centre that works for the betterment of the residents of the Aida Camp. Part of the mission of the Lajee Centre is to improve the health of the residents of the camp, which suffers greatly under the constant strain of Israeli occupation and oppression. High blood pressure, diabetes, and mental health issues are among the most common illnesses in the camp, and we want to do something to help them. 

A project that I discussed with one of the founder of the Lajee Centre, Salah, while at the camp was the possibility of opening a gym for the people of the camp at the Lajee Centre, and helping them start a self sufficient health and fitness program for the people of Aida. This is going to involve the purchase of equipment, development of a long term program, and the training of coaches from Aida that can run the program once the facility has been established. 

For our small business in Cork, this is a massive undertaking, but we are going to do everything we can to make it happen, and we need your support to do it. The first fundraising event for this project is going to be held at ACLAÍ on the 16th of December (11am-6pm), where we will run a pop-up shop of handmade Palestinian goods that we have imported from the West bank specifically for the occasion. We have ceramics, wine glasses, scarfs, soaps, t-shirts, embroidery, olive oil, and lots more very unique and beautiful products of Palestine for sale. I personally visited nearly all of the suppliers in August this year and am delighted to be able to have their products on sale at our facility for this one day only event.

By coming along to the event and buying some things on the day, you will be directly helping out the shop keepers, ceramics workers, the women who made each embroidered item by hand at the Aida Refugee camp, the soap makers, olive growers, and also directly contributing to our project of opening a volunteer gym in the Aida camp. Come along and help us make this health project happen! Ainle x