My name is Malaka Mohammed, and I am hoping you will help fulfill my dream to study for a master’s in global politics and law at the UK’s Sheffield University this fall. All I need is £6000 ($9,413) by Sept. 30. The university is paying my tuition and fees, and YouthSchool (a UK charity for which I am a founding trustee of the Palestinian branch) has helped me fundraising for 50% of my projected living expenses.
Let me tell you why I think I’m worth your donations.
Who I am
I am a 23-year-old Palestinian refugee, whose family ended up in the Gaza Strip after being forced to flee our ancestral home in Jaffa. As I grew up, I learned to work with very limited resources. Like most Palestinians in Gaza, I suffered from a shortage of books, water, electricity, technology and freedom of movement. However, I persevered, and completed my bachelor’s degree in English Literature, from the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG).
In my studies, I have taken on various leadership roles, including president of my university’s English Society. Recently, I was one of two students selected from more than 600 Gazan youth to represent my people in a delegation to an international conference in Malaysia called Evolution for Palestine. I am now a member of the follow-up task force charged with carrying through on the contacts we made and the opportunities we identified. Through these experiences, I became increasingly aware that I have a responsibility to work towards peace and justice, rather than just complain about the lack of it.
My evolution into an activist
Today, I have a proven track record as a social activist – one who identifies problems in her community, seeks consensus and takes action to educate others. While just a junior in college, for example, I successfully implemented the first BDS (boycotts, divestments and sanctions) campaign at a Gazan university. I also write for several international websites, such as Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss, which provide me with the opportunity to tell the story of my people.
Most recently, I initiated a campaign to pressure Israel to free Palestinian political prisoners who are illegally detained without charge or trial. One of these prisoners was Samer Issawi, the longest hunger striker in Palestinian history. In concert with others I recruited, I made extensive use of social media as well as conducted many interviews with both broadcast and print journalists around the world. The result: The Israeli government finally agreed to free Issawi, and he is scheduled to return to his home in Jerusalem on Dec. 23.
My path was set: I wanted to obtain the skills necessary to continue to work for global peace and justice. For that, however, I need some serious credentials.
Breaking down borders
I first became familiar with Sheffield through some friends who were fortunate enough to attend, and my ties to the university deepened when I initiated the first successful “twinning” program with IUG, thus breaking down the artificial borders that stand in the way of one world seeking common goals: peace, love and knowledge. Now, I want to visit and study there in person, strengthening my relationships and building the knowledge and skills needed to hold a position one day in which I can be an “ambassador” for both my people and other marginalised groups. I am not sure what the position will be yet, but I know that to be successful I must have a good grasp of political systems and international law. Please help me achieve that dream. If you can contribbute even just a little, I will be eternally grateful, and will keep all donors appraised of my progress as I work on this new challenge.
“In my travels across the Palestinian Territory, I have met many smart, passionate, courageous individuals. But Malaka stands out among them all. It is so easy -- particularly now, as conditions worsen in Gaza in the wake of the Egyptian military take-over – to become discouraged and desperate. However, Malaka maintains a strong, can-do spirit, and has not hesitated to take the initiative on the toughest of issues, Palestinian prisoners of Israel. By investing in her education, you invest in Palestine’s future.” – Pam Bailey, freelance journalist and activist with Codepink: Women for Peace.
"Malaka is an outstanding young talent, whom I have had the honour of working with for the last 12 months. She is an intelligent, thoughtful and highly motivated individual with a strong work ethic. She has been extremely dedicated in her efforts to support the establishment of YouthSchool as a registered NGO in Palestine. As a Director with YouthSchool-Palestine and an active community campaigner, Malaka has developed as a leader whose key strenghs are her resilience, perservance and commitment to every task undertaken. I think Malaka has great potential as an advocate and campaigner for human rights and justice for all people - a role that will be greatly enhanced by completing her Masters in global in politics and law at Sheffield University" – Ken Imrie, Chairman YouthSchool.