Sunday, February 22, 2009


The Palestine Red Crescent Society helped us to coordinate a delivery of 140 tents and 280 blankets to the people of Gaza who lost their homes during the 22 day Israeli assault. The idea came about after having raised funds for medical supplies and equipment. We were told by sources on the ground in Gaza that there was a desperate need for tents that was not being fulfilled, so it seemed like a project that we could make a direct impact with.

The amazing thing about the tent campaign was the support we received from the Houston community. After sending out an initial email to gauge people’s interest to sponsor a tent for $150, I had over 120 responses within 48 hours. It was touching how this soon became an international campaign, with people from Ireland and Holland looking to contribute to the cause.

Upon my arrival to Cairo, I met with Dr. Mai Aref, the head of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), to coordinate the logistics regarding the trucks, supplies and border protocol.

One thing worth noting is the contrasting sentiments of the Egyptian people and the Egyptian government with regard to the Gaza issue. From the moment I arrived in Cairo I have felt nothing but support on all levels ranging from the tent merchant who sold the tents to us at cost to the workers loading the trucks who refused to be paid to the inspectors at the check points who did everything possible to facilitate our safe passage. Their warmth and encouragement was truly a sign of the support of the Egyptian people.

Friday, February 20th, is when Dr. Mai Aref (PRCS), Naser Ashour of the Houston Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (HCJPP) and I set off on our five hour journey from Cairo to El Ariesh, a town that precedes the Rafah border.

We met with the head of Egyptian Red Crescent Society, Ahmed Orabi, to deliver the tents. He thanked the Houston community for their contribution and assured us with formal documentation that our trucks would pass through the Eloga border crossing since the Rafah border was reserved for medical supply deliveries. Although I am Gazan, I have never actually been inside of Gaza. However, this mission has given me the sense of a direct connection with the people back home, and through our efforts I feel them closer to me now more than ever.

During the drop off in El Ariesh we met with Mr. Ahmed Elasad of the UN World Food Program, who told us that the Eloga border crossing is set up where 2 days are reserved for humanitarian supply entry and 2 days reserved for commercial supplies. On the other hand, the Rafah border is mainly for human passage.

When we finally made it to the Rafah border, I was very touched to see people from all over the world standing together in solidarity with the people of Palestine. From a distance I could see a group holding a Canadian flag, and once we got closer it became apparent that there were people from all over the world: France, Canada, Egypt, Germany, many of whom were doctors or activists waiting for days for just a chance to get through the border and help in any way possible.

It was an emotional experience for me to be so close to the land of my forefathers, of my cousins, friends, of my beloved Gaza beach, my home. As I stood there, hoping for a chance to get through and smell the air and feel the soil, the Egyptian soldiers began to abruptly force me to leave and gave me the cold declaration that THE BORDER IS CLOSED.

As I left the border, a wave of confusion and anger swept over me, but in the end I was relieved that the mission was an overall success. Although I was there, I felt helpless and unable to share in the suffering of my people. At that moment, all I wanted to do is chant loudly and say JUSTICE FOR PALESTINE. FREEDOM FOR PALESTINE. Resigned, I took a walk on the Rafah beach, searching in the waves for any sort of understanding of what had just taken place.

Press Release and Interviews Regarding Humanitarian Mission to Gaza

Media Representatives:
Nora Dwyer (English): phone no. 713.412.8385 or 713.528.1817; email
Suha Ahmad (Spanish and English): phone no. 832.423.3535; email

When: Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 1:35pm

Where: George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Terminal D

HOUSTON (February 26, 2009) -- The coordinating committee working on behalf of Sahar Abusada’s mission to provide humanitarian assistance to the residents of Gaza is outraged at the Egyptian’s government refusal to allow Ms. Abusada’s entry into Gaza.

On February 15, 2009, Sahar Abusada, a Houston area resident, left for Cairo to oversee the delivery of 140 tents and 280 blankets for Palestinians left without homes following the Israeli air attacks on Gaza. Money for these supplies was raised by Houstonians responding to the growing humanitarian crisis.

On arrival in Cairo, Sahar Abusada coordinated the delivery of the supplies to the Palestinian Red Crescent. However, when attempting to enter Gaza from the Rafah border checkpoint, Ms. Abusada was twice refused entry by the Egyptian government despite having an “official permission letter” from the American Embassy.

As the Israeli blockade continues to leave Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants without sufficient food, water, fuel, electricity or medicine, immediate action is necessary. Ms. Abusada desires to visit Gaza to assess the ongoing humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. Our committee, therefore, calls for the Egyptian government to recognize the desperate crisis of the Palestinian people and allow Ms. Abusada entry into Gaza.

Sahar Abusada is accessible for telephone interviews prior to her return to Houston on Saturday, February 28th. To arrange a time, please contact one of the media representatives listed above. Otherwise, Ms. Abusada will be available for one-on-one interviews at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Terminal D) at the time of her return. Ms Abusada is scheduled to arrive on KLM flight no. NW 8661/KL 661 at 1:35 pm. Following her clearance through US Customs, Ms. Abusada will make a brief statement and answer any media questions. An English/Spanish translator will be available.
For more information on Ms. Abusada’s mission, please visit
Copy: Egyptian Embassy in Washington DC