Operation Olive Branch: Feeling Helpless About What is STILL Happening in Gaza? Here is One Way to Help Families Who Desperately Need It

If you’re feeling helpless and overwhelmed by the atrocities occurring in Gaza – Operation Olive Branch could be just the answer. OOB is connecting people with families in Gaza who need financial help – they’re families who have been carefully vetted to ensure donations are going to real families who need real help, immediately. Even if you can’t afford to donate, please take a look at this and consider sharing OOB, or a family in need’s Go Fund Me page on your socials!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been going through loops of despair for the last seven months. Sometimes I manage to forget that a world of horror is happening in Gaza, and then, I absentmindedly open up my Instagram app and see an image or video that instantly puts me into fight or flight mode. The saliva dries up in my mouth. I want to erase the distressing images out of my mind immediately. I want to put my phone in the freezer and forget about it (I think maybe because that’s what Joey did with books in Friends when they got too scary).

Then, as I’ve written before, I go into a spiral of then feeling so guilty that I am able to look away, that I can choose to not bear witness. That I have the luxury of having won some sort of birth lottery and was born here in NZ rather than in a conflict zone.

I think I’ve made my stance on Gaza quite clear here, so I won’t go over that territory again, but, if like me, you’re feeling overwhelmed, hideous and so helpless about it all, I’ve been looking at ways to help and want to spread the word, if you’d like to join me.

It was after seeing a video of a four or five-year-old boy carrying his baby brother – the only other surviving member of his family – in his baby capsule, both covered in dust, grit and blood, not sure where he was going, but hoping that in putting some distance between himself and their bombed home that he was doing the right thing, I once more started looking for what I could do to contribute more.

That when I found through author Sim Kern, Operation Olive Branch. It’s a grassroots movement to support and amplify aid request of Palestinian families.

I’m sure, like me, you will have heard the stories of aid simply not making it into Gaza. Or, of scammers online, despicably exploiting this time to make a quick buck. So, how can we be sure our donations are making a difference?

That’s where Operation Olive Branch (OOB) is stepping in. It’s another option – hopefully to complement some of the incredible aid organisations that are doing wonderful work in Gaza (there’s a full list of those below too!)

A spokesperson from OOB says that like many organic movements nowadays, OOB was birthed in the comment section of a social media post.

“Many of us were struggling with ‘what more can I do to help?’ so we jumped at the opportunity to assist Palestinians joining that platform to advocate for themselves,” they say. “As more and more of us began supporting them directly – often by creating content to help drive traffic and visibility to their newly created accounts, the need to collaborate became apparent. Someone said, ‘we need a spreadsheet’, another recommended adapting the viral ‘Maui Rise’ sheet (created after the fires in Lahaina) and the rest is history.”

This spreadsheet is changing and saving lives. If you click on it, you’ll find a number of links – from updates and donation partners, to individual, vetted funding pages to directly help families in need.

The spreadsheet is at times very confronting – there are lists of people who need help and why. But it’s also heartwarming to see some are being ticked off the list, because there are happy endings to their stories. Like the Elborniya family – Haya Mazen who is 28 and her husband, Iayan Hazem. The pair have three children – Iayan Hazem (six), Rahaf Hazem (5) and Raghad Hazem (2) and Haya Mazen was, a few weeks ago, nine-months pregnant and needing an emergency c-section. Thanks to the donations through the gofundme page that was linked in the OOB spreadsheet, the family was able to leave Rafah to Egypt (where her parents live) where she had a successful c-section and gave birth to a little girl.

There’s still plenty of families who need help though – there’s more than 800 on the list right now, with many more continuing to be added each day. Peri natal, or post natal complications are extremely common. Just today, I donated to a new listing of a young married couple – they lost their home after it was bombed, she is seven months pregnant and now she has the complication of testing positive for Hepatitis A (likely due to the unsanitary conditions they are being forced to live in – including no access to clean water), immediately making her pregnancy high risk. They are fundraising to evacuate as soon as possible so that they can safely deliver their much-longed for baby.

Choosing who to help, is a horrible task. How do you choose one over another? But I steel myself with the knowledge that at least I am helping some of these people. And yes, we’re in a cost of living crisis, so finding any spare cash is a real privilege. If like me, you can find a way to spare the money – whether it’s cancelling your Netflix subscription or daily coffee – I strongly encourage you to do so.

Keen To Help?

If you can help, head to that spreadsheet and get going! Every little bit helps for these families.

If you’d rather not look through the spreadsheet, I’ve picked three at random here to share with you. These are three of the hundreds and hundreds of families who have been vetted by OOB who really need our help. And, if you’re not in a position to help financially, please consider sharing these pages on your social pages so that others, who may be able to spare a few dollars, can help out!

Fatima Abdelhadi: Fatima gave birth to her son Tamim during the genocide. She has two daughters and was excited about bringing another child into their lives when she learned they were pregnant shortly before Oct 7. The family has since been displaced, she gave birth in harrowing conditions, after a pregnancy in which she received zero medical care, limited access to food and clean water and, a severe lack of sleep. Now, she is raising a two children and a newborn in unthinkable conditions. Understandably, her mental health is suffering, and all she wants is to provide safety for her two daughters and infant son. They are fundraising to secure visas to safely evacuate to Egypt.

Nevin Himaid: Nevin is 32 years old and pregnant with her third daughter. She’s in her eighth month and is suffering from chronic rheumatoid arthritis. Medication to treat her condition has not been available in Gaza for six months, so her health has been declining rapidly. Their house has become uninhabitable after several bombings, and there is now no medical care available to her – she is obviously very concerned about giving birth in these conditions soon, and for the welfare of her other two young daughters. She is fundraising to be evacuated.

Nour Albatrookh’s family: This family includes Muhammad (36) who is married with four children. His wife May (29) gave birth in December 2023 in horrific conditions, and so the family now have a two-month-old, as well as a three-year-old, five-year-old and six-year-old. The group includes their parents, who are aged 62 and 72 and both suffer from medical conditions. The mother, Suhaila is now in a wheelchair as there is no medication available for her conditions in Gaza (diabetes, asthma and arthritis). They are fundraising to evacuate to Egypt.

Looking for a Broader Charity or Aid Organisation to support?

OOB recommends and encourages people to donate to local aid organizations (or those with contacts on the ground) whose services and support are still functioning despite the increasing current barriers for larger non local organizations. Organizations we recommend include but are not remotely limited to:

These Are the Reasons You Might be Feeling Extra Tired, According to a Dietitian

Why am I so tired? It's a question you may be asking yourself quite often at the moment, particularly if, even after a full...

‘Why We Need To Treat Dating Like Business.’ TBH With Brodie Kane On The Dating Advice That Changed Everything

Welcome to TBH – To Be Honest – Capsule’s monthly column with our columnist and old pal, Brodie Kane! This month, Brodie is dipping her feet...

The Woman in Charge of IKEA New Zealand – What to Expect When the Kiwi Store FINALLY Opens (& What She Thinks of NZ!)

It's what we've all been waiting for for YEARS - a Kiwi IKEA store where you can shop 'til we drop (drop under the...

I’ll Have What She’s Having: Our Panel Reviews the Share Satisfaction O-Pod – Can This Small But Mighty Sucker Deliver the Big O’s?

Our most popular series is BACK – I’ll Have What She’s Having, our monthly panel of real, honest sex toy reviews, powered by our...