Sri Lankan entrepreneurs unite, fundraising for war-ravaged Gazatext_fields
Colombo: In a show of solidarity, Sri Lankan entrepreneurs have united for a fundraiser aimed at supporting Palestine.
The usually quiet Dolci Falasteen restaurant in Colombo, known for its Palestinian cuisine and located in a busy neighbourhood, hosted various stalls where businesses pledged to donate at least 10% of their proceeds to Gaza. Most vendors donated their whole income.
Aisha Altaf, the 24-year-old founder of the LURE Foundation, a cosmetics business, organized the event to raise awareness and funds for the victims of the recent Israeli assault on Gaza.
The foundation, in partnership with the Africa Muslims Agency, has already received over 2.1 million Sri Lankan rupees ($6,400) for aid efforts in Gaza.
“After constantly seeing graphic content of what’s happening to the people in Gaza, I felt immense guilt for having the most basic things like sleeping on a bed, having water, and hot meals,” Altaf said, as quoted by Al Jazeera. “This is most definitely a genocide, and whoever cannot see it is simply choosing to ignore all the facts.”
Altaf emphasized the urgent need for assistance, considering the approaching winter. The funds will be utilized to provide hot meals and winter jackets, especially for displaced children. The event showcased diverse contributions, including a 14-year-old girl selling handmade bracelets with the colours of the Palestinian flag.
Entrepreneurs viewed the fundraiser as a symbol of solidarity with Palestine.
Sajida Shabir, a 26-year-old restaurateur, expressed her support by selling homemade food under her brand, Hungryislander’s Kitchen. The initiative attracted individuals like Miquelaa Fernando, who saw it as a tangible way to contribute to a greater cause amid global inaction.
Meanwhile, many Sri Lankan Tamils see parallels between Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza and the final stages of the civil war during which the Sri Lankan government allegedly committed war crimes. The government denies the claims.
Sri Lanka has witnessed dozens of demonstrations opposing Israel’s attack on Gaza, which followed an attack by Hamas fighters on southern Israel on October 7. Pro-Palestinian protests were also held in Colombo, attended by leaders of the Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Hindu faiths.
“Let us embrace unity, collaboration and empathy. Together, we have the power to build a better future for all. Every action we take has a ripple effect, impacting lives beyond our own borders,” Altaf added.