Qatar Charity donates $10 million for Gaza

June 9, 2009

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Today I had the pleasure of meeting representatives from Qatar Charity, who traveled from Doha, Qatar to Mercy Corps' global headquarters in Portland, Oregon in order to sign a memorandum of understanding for a generous gift of $10 million.

Mr. Abdulla Al-Nameh, Managing Director of Qatar Charity, constantly smiling, spoke of his excitement to begin this new partnership with Mercy Corps.

Mercy Corps is equally excited to put the donation to work on the ground in the Gaza Strip helping families rebuild their lost livelihoods. The conflict that was renewed last December between Israel and Hamas has caused the already desperate economic situation in Gaza to further deteriorate. The Gaza Strip now has the world's highest unemployment rate.

With the need so great, Qatar Charity's sizeable donation to support Mercy Corps' ongoing economic recovery work in Gaza will indeed make a difference. We'll provide assistance to fishermen and small farmers and hold trainings on entrepreneurial skills to encourage small business growth. We'll also expand our cash-for-work programs to employ Gazans to remove rubble and rehabilitate damaged buildings.

The cash-for-work approach is one Mercy Corps utilized in Indonesia following the massive Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. We've found that offering jobs to help in recovery provides people with hope while also contributing to improving the economy. You can read what the New York Times says about our cash-for-work program here.

The donation will also be used to expand the Global Citizen Corps program in Gaza that works to equip young people with the skills to be leaders in their communities. You can see an interview with some of the participants speaking to Al Jazeera English in this video: