Time plays tricks on you sometimes. No sooner had I posted my last blog post about the clothing that many of you had helped fund for the Samouni family, than I saw that Ken O’Keefe, who started the Trade not Aid mission to help the family start a school, had arrived in Gaza with Max Igan to start building that school with them. Wonderful news. And news that warrants my giving you a little background to how things progressed for the Trade not Aid mission and the Samouni family.

Through your generous donations, we had purchased books to give to Trade not Aid last year here in the UK when they were collecting supplies for the school. However, those supplies, along with a vast amount of other donations, were stolen by other individuals here in the UK. In doing this, those individuals stopped the mission in its tracks, and effectively left the Samouni family in the lurch.

Ken O’Keefe fought to have these goods returned so that they could make their way to the rightful beneficiaries, namely the Samouni family in Gaza. Thankfully, earlier this year, much of it was back in his possession and ready to make its way to Gaza.

Among the goods he had at that stage were the books that we had donated. Ken agreed for me to deliver them with me to Gaza, in the hope that they could be used by the Samouni family. Sadly, though, due to the delay in the UK caused by the theft of the goods, the project in Gaza had not got off the ground. For that reason, we gave the books to another school where they could be used, and donated clothing instead to the Samouni children as their priority request. In that way, your donation of books found its way to children and a school in Gaza ready to use it, and the beneficiaries that you had hoped to help got their more pressing need.

So that is the high level context for my comment in the previous blog post that “I was sad to discover when I arrived that the Samouni social enterprise had not moved forward in that year, and that the school project also had stalled.” And more importantly, a few weeks after my return from Gaza, I see that Ken O’Keefe has been back out there and that the project has now moved forward with his visit. He also informs me that they now have donations to secure teaching staff who should be able to start teaching before the end of the year. And THAT is the the best news of all!

He has posted a video of their work to get the classroom together, which I attach following. It is an incredible moment to see desks coming together, a whiteboard, and a classroom against the odds.

Note that Hope and Play is not affiliated with Ken O’Keefe or Trade not Aid, but was and remains a supporter of its aims to normalise trade with Gaza, and specifically to create a school and community centre for the Samouni family. It is for that reason that we donated books (eventually to be substituted by clothing) to the Samouni family through Trade not Aid.