Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals

by Rebuilding Alliance
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Mrs. Najah's Kitchen - Gaza Emergency Meals
Aida from Mrs. Najah's Kitchen delivering a meal
Aida from Mrs. Najah's Kitchen delivering a meal

Thank you for making Mrs. Najah’s Kitchen the winner of the GlobalGiving’s World Refugee Bonus Campaign on June 20th, 2022. You’ll be happy to know that after winning the competition, Mrs. Najah’s Kitchen was able to resume preparing hot meals for Gaza families throughout September and into October. In that time, Mrs. Najah’s superstar, all-women team delivered delicious, home-cooked meals to over 3,500 families in and around Rafah! 

Because of your support, this project is making a tremendous impact on underprivileged families in Gaza, who often lack the means and income to afford quality ingredients like the ones Mrs. Najah uses to create her amazing and nutritious meals. Mrs. Najah and her team specifically seek out these families to help ensure that they can have access to good food. 

Besides just making these meals, Mrs. Najah’s team also goes through tremendous effort to deliver them, particularly focusing on families who live in areas that are not easily accessible, or are otherwise unable to reach the Women’s Program Center that the team operates out of. The team is capable of delivering meals to hundreds of families in the area, helping a huge portion of the community access healthy, delicious meals.

In addition, this project also benefits Mrs. Najah’s team, who are able to gain an income from their work on this project, helping them to provide for themselves and their families. Mrs. Najah’s Kitchen has a positive impact on every aspect of the community, from the families it serves to the women who work hard to make and deliver these incredible hot meals.

With your continued support, the Kitchen can remain operational and bring meals, nutrition, and smiles to families in need.

Thank you for being part of Mrs. Najah’s team! 

Alaa' & Heba cooking meals in the kitchen
Alaa' & Heba cooking meals in the kitchen
Children eating a delicious hot meal.
Children eating a delicious hot meal.
A father and daughter with their family dinner.
A father and daughter with their family dinner.
Children who just received a nutritious meal.
Children who just received a nutritious meal.
A beneficiary excited for his family meal.
A beneficiary excited for his family meal.
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Mrs.Najah and her team #1 on GG World Refugee Day!
Mrs.Najah and her team #1 on GG World Refugee Day!

As you may know this wonderful project was selected by GlobalGiving to participate in their World Refugee Bonus Campaign and on June 20th, 2022, Mrs. Najah's Kitchen won!  This could not have happened at a better time. 

  • I am so proud to tell you that we've fully met our $32,000 goal for the month ahead. 

  • Usually we have to wait for a month before GG donations arrive but we're asking for early transfer so that Mrs. Najah and her team can get back to work as soon as possible.

The meals that the team provides are vitally important to the underserved families in Rafah, who often can’t afford nutritious food as a result of ever-increasing food prices and deteriorating economic conditions. Reopening will feed 19,200 individuals in the month ahead as the team delivers 200 family dinners, four days a week.

But it’s not just the families of the recipients that this project supports. Let me tell you about some of the women on Mrs. Najah’s team, many of whom are the sole source of income for their families. Chef Rania said, "My son, Mahmoud, has a chronic disease and I have to buy medicine for him. Working in Mrs. Najah's Kitchen allows me to be able to buy the presciption for my son and provide for my family.

Chef Alaa', another member of Mrs. Najah’s team says: "With my mother passing away, and my father having a heart condition which prevents him from working, I am the sole breadwinner for my family. This project provides me with an income that can meet the needs of my family, and I feel so happy while preparing and cooking the hot meals. We cook with love and passion to feed families in need.”

What makes Mrs. Najah’s Kitchen so wonderful is that the team members truly love the work they are doing for their community.  
I think they the coolest people on earth!

When we spoke with Mrs. Najah herself, she said “Mrs. Najah's Kitchen is now a major project for so many people in Gaza-Strip, especially the refugees.  Because of the bad economic situation, lack of income, the high prices of the food, unemployment —  all these elements made me work harder to provide such meals for the families. Particularly on Fridays, a delicious hot meal can feed the family and bring them happiness.” 

Your support, and support from donors like you, makes this wonderful project possible. Thank you!

Key team members
Key team members
This is how 200 meals a day become a reality!
This is how 200 meals a day become a reality!
Our fearless leader, Mrs. Najah!
Our fearless leader, Mrs. Najah!
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Mrs. Najah is bringing warmth to Gaza’s winter with her fresh-hot meals, smiles, and kindness.

My name is Sara Azmoudeh and I recently returned to Rebuilding Alliance's team as the Community Manager. On my first week back with the team, I had the privilege of interviewing Mrs. Najah to learn about her project, Mrs. Najah's Kitchen, and to share recent developments with you all. I could not have asked for a better way to immerse myself in Rebuilding Alliance's work; Mrs. Najah's resilience and dedication to feeding Gaza's families is an inspiration, to say the least. Keep reading and you'll see what I mean.

Mrs. Najah's Kitchen goal is to deliver 400 meals a week, usually one per family but sometimes if the family is larger, they will need two meals. Over a two-week period in December, Mrs. Najah was able to serve 1,100 families which was less than expected due to higher food prices.

In the last week of February, meals were delivered over 7 days throughout Morag and Al-Obour. Two days of deliveries were dedicated to Refugees at Al-Shaout Refugee camp, and cancer patients at Oraiba and the Western camp. Last week, Mrs. Najah visited two small Bedouin villages, Abasan and Al-Nusierat. While you would not believe it from the smiles on their faces, these Bedouin villagers live in extreme poverty. Their homes lack electricity, some of them don’t have windows or doors. They are very poor - some are sick - and have little to no access to basic necessities like food. Needless to say, Mrs. Najah’s hot meal delivery made their day. 

When Mrs. Najah arrives to make a delivery, she first asks, “What’s cooking?” The economic crisis gripping Gaza is clear from the responses she hears. Mrs. Najah explains, “One mother responded that they are cooking plain potatoes; another said spaghetti without any meat or sauce; another said plain rice; another said that they had nothing at all to cook.”

Most families have no means of transportation - and cannot afford - to pick up their hot meals from Mrs. Najah’s Kitchen. This is especially true now in the Winter when hard weather conditions make it difficult for Gazans to walk or bike over. Small amounts of governmental aid were disbursed to low-income families in January. But at this point, most have unfortunately exhausted their funds and are scrambling to feed their families. Thanks to Mrs. Najah and her team, Gazan families receive hot meals right at their front door.

Over the last couple of months, cooking has made Mrs. Najah nostalgic. Before starting Mrs. Najah’s Kitchen, Mrs. Najah was known as the neighborhood chef! She says, “As the oldest in a family of 7, my mother taught me how to cook at a young age. I used to cook for my siblings, then later I started cooking for my own children. Eventually, I would invite the neighbors over for dinner, and before I knew it my chicken and rice was famous!” Now that Mrs. Najah’s Kitchen has opened its doors to the Gaza Strip, Mrs. Najah explains, “my daughters help with preparing meals at home.” Her recipe has stayed consistent throughout the years!

When asked about her favorite part of the project, Mrs. Najah humbly said: “the smiles on people's faces.” She went on to say, “If you have the chance to help someone, do it. Not only can you help another human being, but you also enjoy how you feel after. Rebuilding Alliance has allowed me to feel that - to help others.” 

Thank you for allowing our team to empower Mrs. Najah’s Kitchen. I hope you continue to keep Mrs. Najah in your hearts and minds.

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Mrs. Najah's Kitchen is determined to keep feeding destitute Gaza families. During this summer, Mrs. Najah and her team at the Women Programs Center Rafah endured the threat of pandemic and the heat, cooking in giant batches and delivering meals to thousands of households. Mrs. Najah said, "Feeding the poor is indescribable happiness despite the fatigue we face."

From June to August, Mrs. Najah's Kitchen served 4050 families living in various neighborhoods all over Rafah: Nahr Al-Bared, Tal Al-Sultan, Al-Shaboura, the Swedish Village, Deir Al-Balah, Oriba, and the beach area. Some of them have not been helped by any other organization. The 4050 families also include members undergoing treatment for cancer and kidney disease. Mrs. Najah found these families after reaching out to organizations that specialized in serving patients like them. Now, in October, Mrs. Najah’s Kitchen delivers twice a week, directly to underprivileged dialysis patients receiving treatment in the hospital.

The Al-Shaboura neighborhood of the U.N.’s Rafah Refugee Camp, pictured below, is particularly challenging for deliveries because of the narrow alleys. 70 years ago, the UN allocated each family space for their tent. When it became clear that they would not be going home any time soon, the U.N. provided simple housing in that same space. As families grew, those who could afford to, built up, on their same plot of land. Thousands of people live in each refugee camp neighborhood. Al-Shaboura's population is more than 40,000 people in just 15 kilometers.

In May, Mrs. Najah adjusted the Kitchen's procedures so they could keep delivering during Israeli missile attacks on Gaza. They delivered 2430 meals to families sheltering in UN schools or with other relatives and made sure to use only UN-marked vehicles so Mrs. Najah and her volunteer teams wouldn't be a target for missiles. Knowing the depth of need, Mrs. Najah's Kitchen also collaborated with another organization to deliver to families even in North Gaza, which was hardest-hit. The work was dangerous, but she took all precautions to keep the team safe, and, thankfully, no one was hurt during deliveries.

During the bombings, a group of gamers learned of Mrs. Najah’s Kitchen because it went viral all over Instagram and Twitter (including a shout-out from Bella Hadid!), and they wanted to help. They streamed all month long on Twitch to raise funds. Images of Mrs. Najah’s team doing good work in the middle of despair moved many to give as the gamers played to help Gaza families. They raised $17,572 overall, with half going to the Kitchen and other going to the Gaza Emergency Relief Fund. Thank you Jon G., kav_p, ashewyn, karlgerm, justicekazzy, ohnoplays, paimonxx, wouldhaus, and ProjectRuby!

Mrs. Najah's Kitchen is a lifeline for the community. Mrs. Najah herself is there at nearly every delivery. Thankfully, Mrs. Najah has been vaccinated and so has her staff. Here are some of her stories from the field:

  • I asked an elderly lady, what did she have for lunch? She said shyly, "Just what God has given." I did not see anything but bread in front of her.

  • A child came running towards me telling me that they have no food so I gave him one meal. He said to me it will not be enough because they are ten in the house. I gave him one more, and he went away happy.

  • A man said I came at a good time as he had a problem with his wife. “I did not know what to do and where to get the money in order to save the Friday meal. Thank you very much. Thanks be to God, my children will be very happy."

  • Another said, "How much this makes me feel that there is someone who is looking out for us. I have a family of 8 people, and so a great responsibility, especially after school. I’m so happy that someone is searching to find us. Thank God and thank you to everyone who contributed to getting us this delicious meal."

  • A lady said that their welfare checks are delayed a lot so the meals really help. She said the meals taste as if she made it at home and the quantity is sufficient.

  • Another mom said, "My children were crying because they wanted chicken, and I had no money. All I could do was to fry potatoes. Thank you."

For families who don't know when the next meal is coming, a delicious, home-cooked meal means so much. Thank you for making a difference in their lives, and I hope you continue to hold Mrs. Najah's Kitchen and these families in your heart especially during the holidays.

Delivery in Al-Shaboura neighborhood
Delivery in Al-Shaboura neighborhood

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Imagine cooking delicious food and delivering it to hundreds of people, all while fasting. This is what Mrs. Najah and her staff at the Women Programs Center Rafah has been doing throughout the month of Ramadan. They prepared and delivered meals for 1800 families across many neighborhoods in Rafah: Oriba, Al-Hashash area, Al-Shaboura Refugee Camp, Morag, and Al-Ezba.

Mrs. Najah's Kitchen usually delivers in the afternoon. However, because families were fasting for Ramadan, she and her team scheduled their deliveries later in the day so families can break their fasts with the Kitchen's hot meals.

Mrs. Najah’s Kitchen focuses on widows and divorcées with no source of income. In addition, Women Programs Center Rafah teamed up with other local organizations to deliver to families with disabilities, cancer patients, and orphan children under the care of other family members.

When she received her meal, one woman said: “I swear I’ve not started cooking yet for Iftar. I was confused what to cook because I don’t have anything in the kitchen. This was sent to us by God. Thank you!”

Some of the beneficiaries also praised the quality of the food: 

“What a delicious meal! I can’t remember that I’ve had a meal like this my entire life “.

“Honestly, it’s my first time tasting as good as this hot cooked meal. You cooked an amazing meal, and it made our day because my wife didn’t have anything to cook for Iftar. We were lucky because of your visit. God bless you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

As Gaza's COVID cases rise again, it's important for families with no or little income source to have food deliveries they can rely on. We hope you will continue to support Mrs. Najah's Kitchen so we can deliver food to more families more often. A simple meal of chicken and rice provides not just sustenance but lets vulnerable families know that they aren't abandoned during this difficult time. 

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Organization Information

Rebuilding Alliance

Location: Redwood City, CA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @RebuildAll
Project Leader:
Donna Baranski-walker
Executive Director
Redwood City, CA United States
$307,749 raised of $530,000 goal
 
4,229 donations
$222,251 to go
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