While children around the world impatiently await their annual birthday celebrations, mostly as an occasion to receive presents, three young Jordanian siblings have selflessly decided to dedicate their entourage's generosity to a cause.
For their birthday this year, Mia, 9, Jood, 6, and Kareem Daoud, 4, asked their friends and family members to get them donations for the UNRWA’s "Dignity is Priceless" campaign, in lieu of traditional presents.
"As soon as they were old enough to understand, we started this tradition of picking a cause for their birthdays, whereby they can make donations to people in need like the students from UNRWA schools this year," said Leen Daoud, the mother of the trio, noting that previous causes included Tkiyet Um Ali, which provides food and services to the less privileged and Al Aman Fund, which supports orphans over 18 years old to pursue their education after leaving the care system.
"After I read an article about the UNRWA situation, I talked to Kareem, Mia and Jood, explaining how young children like them might not be able to return to school this year," she told The Jordan Times on Sunday, recalling that "they became very interested and started asking thousands of questions like 'why are they refugees?' 'Why can't they go back to school?', etc…"
UNRWA has been facing an unprecedented financial crisis this year, after the US reduced its funding to the agency by $300 million, followed by a decision of complete cancellation of the aid provided to sustain the livelihood of millions of Palestinian refugees.
The deficit has put the education of 122,000 children enrolled in 171 schools around the Kingdom at stake, according to Director of UNRWA Operations in Jordan Roger Davies, who added that the education of around 4,000 young men and women enrolled in two vocational centres and teachers training college are also threatened.
“Because they come from such a big family, my three children are very spoiled and they understand that they are blessed. Imagine if every one of their 20 schoolmates — or 40 in the case of Kareem! — gave them one present for their birthday, it would be way too much!,” Daoud exclaimed, noting that the children have been “deeply involved in the process, and not just doing something their parents forced them to do”.
“They are truly passionate about the cause, asking us questions, learning about it. We also read articles and stories so that they can better understand the issue and start thinking beyond what they already know,” the mother continued, acknowledging that “the keenest to understand is her nine-year-old daughter”.
“I have a lot of friends and colleagues who graduated from these UNRWA schools, so it made it even more personal for the kids, as they could relate to some people around them affected by the cause,” the mother pointed out, stressing that “for me, having them understand and think about the cause is the key to becoming pro-active and making a change in other people’s lives”.
In total, over 100 people showed up to the birthday party, which was organised as a community event where everyone brought one homemade dish and had the opportunity to put whatever amount they wanted to inside the donation box at the entrance.
“Some gave JD20, JD50 and even JD200; it was truly up to them. But, I have to say that people were very generous,” Daoud remembered, citing a total of JD1,500 collected during the party.
The family also gave each invitee a small donation box carrying the account details of the UNRWA campaign, for them to take home and raise even more money for the Palestinian schoolchildren.
According to an UNRWA official, it costs $71 per month to educate a Palestinian refugee, so “a community of givers can truly make a huge difference for our 526,000 students”.
Abdirahman Aynte, UNRWA director of planning and chair of the Dignity is Priceless Campaign said: “We really appreciate the outpouring of support we’ve seen from individual givers like the Daoud family. Their solidarity in the effort to protect education for Palestine refugees is an example for all of our children.”
“Even decades after a child has graduated from school, their basic education can influence their income potential. Therefore, these donations are not merely about this academic year — they are an investment in the future success of dozens of refugee children and the communities in which they live.”
On Tuesday, Kareem, Leen and Jood will visit the Amman UNRWA headquarters, where they will hand out their birthday cheques to the agency officials, hopefully inspiring other children to follow suit.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Copyright The Jordan Times. All rights reserved.