Supporting Mental Health for the Children of Palestine

Photo Credit: UNWRA. DC Gaza 5K 2018 – crossing the Finish Line.

Dear Fellow Warrior,

I was very excited to hear the UNWRA Gaza 5K fundraiser supporting Mental Health services for Palestinian Refugee, is back in Washington, DC! I learned about it just in time to sign up this past weekend. The last one I took part in was virtually in 2021. The first five years I participated in person and in DC. I had been participating in the Annual DC Gaza 5k since 2015. It is a very special event for me for many reasons. Some of you who have known me over the years may recall my involvement.

Please find my DC Gaza 5k 2023 Fundraising Page here:

https://unrwausa-2023-dc-gaza-5k.funraise.org/fundraiser/elsa-talat-khwaja

As I have shared in the past, this has always been a breathtaking, empowering, beautiful experience and I really appreciate and love the people that organize this fundraiser! And this came to my attention at a very important time personally for me and collectively for the cause.

Just a few days ago was the first time in the history of the United Nations that they commemorated the Nakba, the 75th Anniversary of The Nakba… please read here to learn more about it: https://www.un.org/unispal/nakba75/ .

And here is a must-read on the Nakba and the Western denial or justification of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people:

https://dawnmena.org/denying-the-nakba-75-years-later-a-democracy-in-exile-roundtable/?fbclid=IwAR2GbuSxMrrJQXeo129mIjN-F3Y3Ll4WV_o5yESWbxAMC8AlzcQni6XBr4M

So it is great to be supporting UN efforts again, through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). The UNRWA Gaza 5K community events/fundraisers made it to my PhD dissertation acknowledgments in 2021 for a good reason. https://www.elsatkhwaja.com/acknowledgements/.

The Gaza 5k fundraiser addresses two intersecting causes near and dear to my heart, Palestinian independence, livelihood and well-being, and mental health care. The cause epitomizes the “non-discriminatory” nature of mental health crises, and the importance of recognizing there are no boundaries in our humanity, especially when it comes to healthcare and mental health.

This was also a really important non-academic activity that became a part of my PhD journey. I would dream, sometimes while crossing the finish line at the Gaza 5k, as a motivation for crossing the Phinish line for my doctorate degree. I recall how impossible it would feel. Similar to how impossible it sometimes feels that Palestine will become free. It is not impossible if we stay persistent, determined, and keep fighting for it. And My PhD was quite the fight and will always be the analogy I use for things that seem impossible, but are then possible.

Since 2015, which was roughly the middle of my PhD program, I would use the event to help cope with a daunting doctoral journey, alongside the DC Community Walks for Suicide Prevention, raising funds with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It helped me at difficult moments by connecting me to something outside my academic studies for a little bit, and to causes beyond myself. This fundraiser along with AFSP Community Walks in DC became an integral part of my own personal journey for mental health healing and recovery as well.

Indeed, I was and am just one “face in the crowd,” and wouldn’t really be cheered passing the finish line :(, coming alone and not knowing anyone there at a personal level, but I would receive some online support from colleagues and friends at times, and I will always appreciate that! And I will always be thankful to UNRWA for being a part of my personal and professional journey those years, and for helping me feel a part of a community for a beautiful cause … and I hope to continue contributing in any small way possible, as Gaza and the children of Gaza always need a lot of help.

Thank you to all who gave through my modest fundraising efforts in the past…

Here are a few posts from previous Gaza 5k runs I have participated in the past:

(sorry for photo issues)


https://www.warrioretkqueen.com/dc-gaza-run/

Further, at the start of this year, I started another fundraiser for flood relief efforts in Pakistan, paintingheals.elsatkhwaja.com.

Following my new tradition of gifting paintings to my donors for causes I support (not incentivizing charity, but rather as a small token of my sincere appreciation from my heart), I’ll do the same for my top donors to this particular fundraiser as well. Painting number 23 in particular, will be gifted to a top donor:

https://paintingheals.elsatkhwaja.com/auction-paintings/?ult_auc_id=1199

Let’s show the world that there are Americans who care deeply for Palestine!

I pray that Palestine will be free in our lifetime, if not sooner.

“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

– Nelson Mandela

From 2021 Virtual Gaza 5k

Peace, Warmth, Blessings, and Solidarity,

Dr. Elsa

Warrior KQueen

“She wasn’t looking for a Knight. She was looking for a Sword.” – Atticus

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