Mrs. Najah's Kitchen is determined to keep feeding destitute Gaza families. During this summer, Mrs. Najah and her team at the Women Programs Center Rafah endured the threat of pandemic and the heat, cooking in giant batches and delivering meals to thousands of households. Mrs. Najah said, "Feeding the poor is indescribable happiness despite the fatigue we face."
From June to August, Mrs. Najah's Kitchen served 4050 families living in various neighborhoods all over Rafah: Nahr Al-Bared, Tal Al-Sultan, Al-Shaboura, the Swedish Village, Deir Al-Balah, Oriba, and the beach area. Some of them have not been helped by any other organization. The 4050 families also include members undergoing treatment for cancer and kidney disease. Mrs. Najah found these families after reaching out to organizations that specialized in serving patients like them. Now, in October, Mrs. Najah’s Kitchen delivers twice a week, directly to underprivileged dialysis patients receiving treatment in the hospital.
The Al-Shaboura neighborhood of the U.N.’s Rafah Refugee Camp, pictured below, is particularly challenging for deliveries because of the narrow alleys. 70 years ago, the UN allocated each family space for their tent. When it became clear that they would not be going home any time soon, the U.N. provided simple housing in that same space. As families grew, those who could afford to, built up, on their same plot of land. Thousands of people live in each refugee camp neighborhood. Al-Shaboura's population is more than 40,000 people in just 15 kilometers.
In May, Mrs. Najah adjusted the Kitchen's procedures so they could keep delivering during Israeli missile attacks on Gaza. They delivered 2430 meals to families sheltering in UN schools or with other relatives and made sure to use only UN-marked vehicles so Mrs. Najah and her volunteer teams wouldn't be a target for missiles. Knowing the depth of need, Mrs. Najah's Kitchen also collaborated with another organization to deliver to families even in North Gaza, which was hardest-hit. The work was dangerous, but she took all precautions to keep the team safe, and, thankfully, no one was hurt during deliveries.
During the bombings, a group of gamers learned of Mrs. Najah’s Kitchen because it went viral all over Instagram and Twitter (including a shout-out from Bella Hadid!), and they wanted to help. They streamed all month long on Twitch to raise funds. Images of Mrs. Najah’s team doing good work in the middle of despair moved many to give as the gamers played to help Gaza families. They raised $17,572 overall, with half going to the Kitchen and other going to the Gaza Emergency Relief Fund. Thank you Jon G., kav_p, ashewyn, karlgerm, justicekazzy, ohnoplays, paimonxx, wouldhaus, and ProjectRuby!
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen is a lifeline for the community. Mrs. Najah herself is there at nearly every delivery. Thankfully, Mrs. Najah has been vaccinated and so has her staff. Here are some of her stories from the field:
- I asked an elderly lady, what did she have for lunch? She said shyly, "Just what God has given." I did not see anything but bread in front of her.
- A child came running towards me telling me that they have no food so I gave him one meal. He said to me it will not be enough because they are ten in the house. I gave him one more, and he went away happy.
- A man said I came at a good time as he had a problem with his wife. “I did not know what to do and where to get the money in order to save the Friday meal. Thank you very much. Thanks be to God, my children will be very happy."
- Another said, "How much this makes me feel that there is someone who is looking out for us. I have a family of 8 people, and so a great responsibility, especially after school. I’m so happy that someone is searching to find us. Thank God and thank you to everyone who contributed to getting us this delicious meal."
- A lady said that their welfare checks are delayed a lot so the meals really help. She said the meals taste as if she made it at home and the quantity is sufficient.
- Another mom said, "My children were crying because they wanted chicken, and I had no money. All I could do was to fry potatoes. Thank you."
For families who don't know when the next meal is coming, a delicious, home-cooked meal means so much. Thank you for making a difference in their lives, and I hope you continue to hold Mrs. Najah's Kitchen and these families in your heart especially during the holidays.
Delivery in Al-Shaboura neighborhood