Omahat in the Press
A new Mississauga not-for-profit agency has spread across the province and into Quebec with its first charity clothing drive for needy families in Gaza.
Launched in January, Omahat Without Borders now has chapters in Windsor, Kitchener, London, Toronto, Hamilton, Ajax, Ottawa and Montreal.
“Omahat means mothers in Arabic,” said Fida Ibrahim, a member of the organization. “We’ve been around for two months now, but with the response we’ve received with this it’s just been very encouraging and you feel that you’re not alone with this. You’re not the only one who wants to help unfortunate people.”
The organization was created when Leila Nada Alhanoun, the group’s founder, said she became tired of watching news of the armed conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
“What I saw happening in Gaza, the travesties, it was so shocking,” said Alhanoun, who hasn’t seen her family, which lives in Ramallah, north of Jerusalem, in 23 years. “So I said we have to do something for our mothers and those mothers there.”
Since early last month, OWB has been collecting donations of clothes, diapers, toys and vitamins to send to children and families in Gaza.
“People have been so generous and kind in their donations; everything’s new and packaged,” said volunteer Sara Amash, 27. “We’re totaling close to $1 million worth of supplies. This is all from just reaching out to the community.”
Organizers expect to send the goods overseas this month.
They say the mass humanitarian aid is reflective of the situation in Gaza.
“There’s been over 6,000 people injured,” said Amash. “There’s been over 1,500 civilian casualities and 35 per cent of them have been children, while 40,000 homes have been destroyed.”
Amash, who’s also a project coordinator for the not-for-profit Canadian Arab Federation in Toronto, said that as a proud Canadian-Palestinian, her identity resides with the people in Gaza.
“Even though we’ve migrated to different countries, we still have a strong sense of belonging,” she said. “The least we can do is help out in any way possible.”
The organization’s chapters across Ontario and in Montreal have been collecting donations and delivering them to the group’s Mississauga headquarters, at 2399 Cawthra Rd.
The International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy will ship the supplies, organizers said.
“We’ll be in constant contact with the charity organizations in Gaza to make sure the supplies arrive safely,” said Ibrahim.
OWB officials say this is just the beginning.
“Our mission is going to be bigger than just the one time and the one area. We’re hoping to expand and become international,” said Ibrahim. “We’re looking to the future to keep helping kids…every child has the right to live in peace and have the basic necessities in life.”
Omahat Without Borders Holds Fundraiser For Middle East Orphans
A Mississauga-based children’s charity threw a fundraiser on Friday night to mark mothers’ day in the Middle East.
Omahat (Mothers) Without Borders, which sponsors around 50 orphaned children in Gaza, gathered 400 women together for the celebration.
The event saw poetry readings, spoken word performances and dabke folk dancing.
Spokesperson Sara Amash said that the group worked to empower women and raise awareness of humanitarian causes both in the Middle East and more locally in Mississauga.
At the fundraiser on Friday, empty piggy banks were handed out and attendees asked to bring them back full when the event is held next year. “Each could hold up to $400,” said Amash, “That’s enough to sponsor an orphan for six months.”
Mothers Collect Toys for Sick Children
‘Tis the season to give. Members of Omahat (Mothers) Without Borders, which is headquartered in Mississauga, visited the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto to deliver new toys. The toys were given to children who had to spend Christmas day in the hospital. 350 children at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto will wake up Christmas morning with smiles on their faces thanks to donors that included Mississauga’s Omahat (Mothers) Without Borders.
A group of Mississauga mothers dedicated to providing humanitarian aid to children in the Gaza Strip, also found time to help youngsters closer to home this Christmas.
In just 30 days, Omahat (which means mothers in Arabic) Without Borders collected more than 300 toys, games, DVDs, books and electronics to brighten the holidays for the young patients at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. The toys were donated by members of the community, including one seven-year-old girl who emptied her piggy bank to buy teddy bears to give to the drive. The group’s volunteers took the toys to the hospital last Monday (Dec. 20) to be distributed to the children in time for Christmas.
In addition to their work sending aid to Gaza— in the form of supplies such as toothbrushes, toys, clothing, shoes, walkers, wheelchairs, blankets, pillows and towels — the non-profit charity holds several fundraisers throughout the year, to support such causes as the Diabetes Association and orphans in the Middle East.
The not-for-profit organization, which also has chapters in Windsor, Kitchener, London, Toronto, Hamilton, Ajax, Ottawa and Montreal, donated about 150 new toys its members collected in the last two months.
Sara Amash, organizer of the toy drive, said they wanted to encourage the Mississauga residents to give back and spread a little holiday cheer to those less fortunate.
“We’re concerned with citizens from all walks of life, but we’re here to send a message of hope and optimism for mothers and children who are suffering, whether it’s locally or internationally,” said the 28-year-old Mississauga resident, a member of OWB’s board of directors. “We wanted the general public to be aware of these issues and give to the community at large by thinking of people that are less fortunate at this time and wishing them better health and better opportunities.”
Amash said the public responded with open arms.
When Amash and other members dropped off the gifts, which included puzzles, computer games and stuffed animals, she said the hospital thanked them for their compassion and energy.
“The nice thing about this is there were six women who came with us (to deliver the toys) and we’re all from different backgrounds and religions,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from, we were there to share the pain of those mothers.”
Amash said it’s a small way to give that goes a long way, especially at Christmas.
“People need to sort of feel that sense of belonging to the greater community,” she said. “By giving and sharing, I believe we can be at a better place.”
OWB, headquartered at 2399 Cawthra Rd., plans to contribute to Trillium Health Centre and Credit Valley Hospital, among others, in the new year.
Fundraiser Helps 45 Orphans
More than 400 people attended the Mississauga-based Omahat (Mothers) Without Borders’ annual fundraiser at the Payal Banquet Hall. The night of food, dance and entertainment raised money for the Palestine Save the Children Foundation. It’s an organization that helps orphaned children and works with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and the Red Cross.
The evening featured performances by a full band and a folk dance troupe from Ottawa. Organizers of the event paid tribute to the group’s president, Nada Al Hanoun, for her time and effort in making the night a success.
Organizers also said they were overwhelmed by the support they received from community members, regardless of background.
Community members gathered on June 19 at the Payal Banquet Hall in support of orphans and needy children in the Gaza Strip.
About 600 people attended Mississauga’s Omahat (Mothers) Without Borders’ fundraising dinner and cultural program, which featured entertainment by London, England folkloric dance group Al Sheeqen.
It was one of three fundraisers held by the not-for-profit organization, which also has chapters in Windsor, Kitchener, London, Toronto, Hamilton, Ajax, Ottawa and Montreal. The other two events took place in Ottawa, on June 18, and Hamilton, on June 20.
Sara Amash, one of the main organizers of the event, said thanks to the volunteers, sponsors and participants, they raised $32,000 in Mississauga.
Amash, 28, said the money will be given to Palestine Save The Children Foundation, a non-profit organization that enables women and children in Palestine refugee camps and other disadvantaged communities in Gaza/West Bank to develop and improve their lives economically, socially, educationally and health-wise.
“It is part of Mothers Without Borders’ commitment to coordinate humanitarian aid to children in Gaza and children in inhumane blockades,” she said. “At the end of the day our goal is to send a message of hope and offer tangible solutions to the constant, but reoccurring problem that mothers and children face in the Middle East.”
Since the group formed in January 2009, it has provided $1.5 million in humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. It has also collected clothing for the Diabetes Foundation of Canada and provided the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto with $2,000 in toys, books and movies.
Amash said the group plans to expand its mission to help children in Iraq and Africa.