Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Road to Viva Palestina 5

“Galloway announces the next land & sea convoys to break the siege of Gaza.” We received this email mid June 2010 and there was very little doubt that VPM was going to be a part of this momentous event.

The wheels started turning slowly but surely, gaining momentum, energy and loads of enthusiasm. We needed to raise a lot of money, as each vehicle filled with aid cost RM55, 000. We started off by sending email notices out and in no time FIMA & IMAM rose to the occasion with RM55, 000 for the purchase of one vehicle. Then came news that threw everyone into near fits. A local pharmaceutical company very generously donated RM110, 000 to fully fund another two vehicles.

And good news was a constant companion as TV3 came on board, pledging full support. Friday 27th August marked the start of our convoy. VPM vehicles were symbolically flagged off at TV3’s HQ and our 2 female drivers were interviewed on our mission, objectives, hopes and aspirations, ‘live’ on Malaysia Hari Ini.

Following that VPM was at Masjid Negara with the total support of the mosque committee. Donation boxes were placed all around and we were generously allocated space to sell VPM paraphernalia. VPM t shirts were snapped up like hot cakes as Malaysian generosity showed its hand once more. The media was out in full force clamouring over Tun Dr Mahathir’s symbolic contribution and the official cheque presentation from FIMA & the pharmaceutical company. The total collected surpassed all our expectations; just under RM13, 000. The following Friday we were at Masjid Wilayah and once again the collection stupefied us; just under RM13, 000.

Shah Alam pasar tani was next on our list. VPM members & volunteers labored over 2 Sundays, tirelessly selling anything we could get our hands on; clothes, shoes, handbags, cookies, cupcakes, knick knacks. Everyone chipped in; no task was too big or small and no one too young or old. Tired feet, parched throats, hoarse voices but smiling hearts; all in the blessed month of Ramadhan. Again collection exceeded expectations; RM15, 000.

And Malaysians kept giving. The association of wives and female staff of Telekom Malaysia contributed RM5, 000. Anonymous donors banked direct into VPM’s account, RM10, RM50, RM100, RM1000, RM2000.

Then came the stunner, Aqsa Sharif, an NGO that’s part of VPM came on board with the purchase of 3 vehicles throwing everyone into convulsions. This brought to total 6 vehicles from VPM. Totally colossal.

The Malaysian contingent of volunteers number 12 in total. 10 will be leaving for London on Wednesday, 15th September to begin the month long road trip. 2 more will meet the convoy in Damascus on 5th October.

VPM thanks everyone who has made possible the first phase of this mission. The known donors, the anonymous ones, the volunteers who were relentless in turning up at every event, the media for the much appreciated publicity and anyone and everyone who’s had a hand in this most noble cause.

We now enter the second phase; the actual breaking of the siege. VPM reminds everyone to not lose sight of the bigger picture; 1.5 million Gazans have been under a total lockdown for over 3 years by Israel. Nothing goes in and nothing goes out. Gaza remains in ruins and is cruelly denied all means to rebuild itself. VPM hopes that this convoy breaks the siege for good and the blockade of Gaza is forever lifted. But be rest assured that if it’s not, civil societies around the world will be relentless in their effort to force Israel to end the siege of Gaza.

It’s going to be a long and hard month for our volunteers as they drive the aid laden vehicles from London through France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Egypt and God willing into Gaza. We ask all Malaysians to pray for the safe, speedy and successful delivery of this aid to the besieged people of Gaza and the safe return of all our volunteers.

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