Hope and Play’s 2009 London to Paris bike ride funded the construction of a Summer Games site in Gaza. The site, which was in place for two months, had over 800 children attending from some of the most battered border regions of Gaza, all there to participate in games and cultural activities as a respite from the brutal blockade and recent invasion to which they have been subjected.

In July 2009, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) hosted its third annual Summer Games. These games were held at over 150 locations in Gaza and provided an opportunity for 250 000 of Gaza’s children to play and enjoy being children during the summer months. There is usually very little opportunity to play safely in these months, as most of these children live in a very impoverished environment due to the Israeli occupation. Conditions have been rapidly deteriorating of late due to the blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt, which has meant that many basic necessities have not been entering the territory. Add to this the recent devastation during the Israeli invasion over the New Year period, and 2009’s games were more needed than ever.

In 2009, Hope and Play was delighted to have funded the construction of the Sheikh Ajleen site. Over 800 children were bussed in from some of the most disadvantaged parts of Gaza, primarily the border areas that were the most vulnerable and affected by the recent war. They were all aged between six and fifteen, and are children of refugees living in Gaza.

As ours was a beach site, builders and craftsmen were employed to construct facilities for beach and sea participation. The children took part in sports, games, theatre projects, arts, crafts and dance.

Incredibly, although lots of the children live within a few miles of the sea, many had never seen it before this event. The photos above are some of the first we have received for construction and play at this site.

This is one of the projects funded by the sponsorship raised by the September 2009 London to Paris bike ride, which has 47 cyclists participating. We would like to thank all the cyclists for participating in this ride, and all of their sponsors for giving generously and allowing the summer games to take place at this location.