The Help Gaza telethon, organized by Maldives media, has raised a record MVR 21.5 million (US$1.4 million) in aid for victims of the war in Gaza.
The 36 hour 30 minute long telethon began at 2:30pm on Friday with the initial MVR6.3 million (US$ 400,000) collected through the religious Adhaalath Party’s Help Gaza Fund.
A series of activities including jumble sales, fishing competitions, sports competitions, traditional drum ‘bodu beru’ shows and fairs were held throughout the weekend to raise funds.
Donations were collected through collection boxes, SMS, checks and Bank of Maldives (BML) Point of Sales systems. The Maldives Police Services and Maldives Scouts oversaw security at collection boxes. BML was in charge of collecting and managing donations.
Within the first nine hours an estimated MVR10.8 million had been raised. By noon on Saturday over MVR11 million was collected. When the telethon ended at 3am on Sunday, the steering committee estimated it had collected over MVR20 million.
The amount is double that collected for the mosque fund in 2012 (MVR10million).
The Help Gaza Telethon’s steering committee member Mohamed Asif ‘Mondhu’ has attributed the fundraising effort’s “historic success” to the empathy Maldivians feel for the people of Palestine.
Media Coordinator and Sun Editor Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir has pledged to ensure funds reached Gazans through Qatar’s Red Crescent. None of the money would be used for overhead costs, Hiriga said.
According to Hiriga, an estimated MVR9.5 million of the MCR21.5 million needs to be realised. He has called on donors to ensure contributions are deposited at BML within the next two days.
He commended the Maldives media’s joint efforts, and said he believed the large amount of donations came in response to the “worst suffering Israeli’s have put Palestinians through in recent history.”
The telethon came amid renewed violence between Israel and Palestinian militants after a three-day ceasefire ended on Friday.
More than 1,900 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in four weeks of Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, the UN has said.
The Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) donated MVR1million from soldier’s wages, while the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and President Abdulla Yameen’s cabinet pledged MVR500,000 each to the fund.
Yameen and Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed have also pledged to donate a month’s wages (MVR50,000 and MVR75,000, respectively). Although the president’s official salary stands at MVR 100,000, Yameen only takes MVR 50,000 in a bid to reduce state expenditure.
The state’s independent institutions have also donated MVR300,000 from wages. These include the Judicial Services Commission, the Civil Service Commission, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Auditor General’s Office, Maldives Inland Revenue Authority, Anti-Corruption Commission, Police Integrity Commission, Customs Integrity Commission, the Tax Appeal Tribunal, and the Maldives Broadcasting Commission.
Shaviyani Atoll Funadhoo Island residents donated money raised through a fishing competition, a slow motor biking competition and a bashi competition.
“Our aim is to ensure every citizen participates in this national effort,” Council President Ahmed Ibrahim told local media on Saturday. He said he hoped to raise MVR100,000 for the Help Gaza Fund.
Haa Alif Uligamu Island fishermen went big game fishing and pledged to donate all proceeds from selling sailfish to the fund. Each sailfish was to be sold at MVR800.
The jumble sale at Kalaafaanu School in Malé saw auctioning of wedding dresses, one child’s birthday cake and furniture. Children emptied their money boxes into collection boxes in Malé.
At 4:30pm, hundreds clothed in black gathered in the rain at the Usfasgandu area in Malé for a prayer for Palestine and a moment of silence for the dead.
“This event was very well received. So many people turned up at the Usfasgandu area, it was completely jam-packed with a large number of people standing out on the street. Today proved the sense of unity Maldivians have in our heart for the whole global Islamic community,” said event organiser and State Trading Organization’s Managing Director Ali Azim.
Meanwhile, Maldives Broadcasting Commission President Mohamed Shaheeb has commended the media for the initiative in Help Gaza Telethon.
“That the Help Gaza Telethon has been noted as one of the most successful humanitarian efforts to be carried out by the Maldivian media is, without doubt, evidence of the important work being carried out by media and the spirit of patriotism that exist amongst them,” Shaheeb said in a letter to the steering committee.
Marches were held across the world on Saturday as part of a worldwide “day of rage” against Israeli military action in Gaza. Demonstrations were held in UK, South Africa, France, Australia and India.
Other demonstrations were held in Spain, Greece, Jordan and Yemen on Friday.