ABU DHABI // Watching the fighting in Gaza on television, Fatima al Qubaisi felt compelled to help. The Grade 12 pupil at Sheikh Zayed Private Academy soon found she was not alone. "This war has been going on for ages. It's kind of our duty to help those in need," Fatima said. Just days after the violence began on Dec 27, many of the pupils at the private girls' school in the capital were also asking themselves what they could do.
They decided to launch a fund-raising drive that has raised about Dh50,000 ($13,600) for the Red Crescent Authority. Fatima was born in 1991, during the first intifada, which claimed more than 1,000 Palestinian lives. She said she had been aware of the conflict for most of her life. "Now it's more than numbers ... the thing is, we claim that we are humanitarians, we claim that there are human rights, but aren't there laws that say that you cannot murder someone?"
Michelle Chatten, a kindergarten teacher at the school, said the fund-raising drive started the old-fashioned way. "They sent envelopes home to parents and they raised a tonne of money." The campaign ended in an all-day fund-raiser at the school on Thursday, where the girls set up their own souq. As the end of the school day drew near, girls from the higher grades milled about cafeteria tables lined with items they had brought to sell, including woven baskets, food and spices.
Some students donated designer purses, including a Louis Vuitton and a Gucci, to be auctioned. Fatima was pleased with the result. "I was really impressed with how the whole school came together." Barbara McKenzie, the head of the school, said the academy had a strong history of community service, but stressed the idea of a souq came from the girls. "They felt that they wanted to do something for the children in Gaza."