Sri Lankan Entrepreneurs Unite To Fundraise For War-Ravaged Gaza

The raised funds in Sri Lanka will be directed towards supplying hot meals and winter jackets, focusing on displaced children. The event featured various contributions, such as a 14-year-old girl selling handmade bracelets in the colors of the Palestinian flag.

On a Sunday afternoon, seven weeks following Israel’s intensive attack on Gaza, the Dolci Falasteen restaurant in Colombo, Sri Lanka  known for its Palestinian cuisine, is lively with activity as young entrepreneurs gather for a shared objective: fundraising for Palestine. Aisha Altaf, a 24-year-old entrepreneur managing a cosmetics business, spearheads the initiative.

Through her recently founded LURE Foundation, she invited various businesses to set up stalls at the fundraiser, encouraging them to contribute a minimum of 10% of their proceeds to Gaza. Many vendors opted to donate their entire earnings.

Altaf stressed the critical need for aid, particularly with winter approaching. The raised funds in Sri Lanka will be directed towards supplying hot meals and winter jackets, focusing on displaced children. The event featured various contributions, such as a 14-year-old girl selling handmade bracelets in the colors of the Palestinian flag. Entrepreneurs participating in the fundraiser saw it as a gesture of solidarity with Palestine.
Umar Farook, aged 56, expressed his commitment to supporting Palestine whenever possible, emphasizing the Palestinians’ right to reside in their own country. He urged the international community to ensure the realization of this right, expressing confidence that Palestine will ultimately triumph.

Since achieving independence in 1948, Sri Lanka has established diplomatic ties with both Israel and Palestine, advocating for a two-state solution. Over 30 years, Sri Lanka, primarily a Buddhist nation, confronted the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a group seeking a separate state for Tamils in the northern and eastern regions. Sinhalese nationalist factions, believing Sri Lanka is a sacred land for Buddhists, have shown sympathy toward similar Zionist beliefs associating Israel as the promised land for Jews. Despite resisting international calls for investigations into alleged war crimes, these groups perceive double standards in Western powers allowing Israel to go unpunished for mass killings in Gaza.

Dozens of protests have occurred in Sri Lanka condemning Israel’s Gaza assault, triggered by a Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7 resulting in 1,200 casualties. Demonstrators across the country have displayed placards with messages such as “Stop the Genocide” and “End Israeli Apartheid.” Pro-Palestinian gatherings in Colombo, attended by leaders from various faiths, including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, have drawn considerable support. Individuals have expressed solidarity through various means, including laying flowers, lighting candles, tying ribbons, and leaving notes at the memorial near the Palestine embassy in Colombo. Amid social media disinformation, civil rights activist Melani Gunathilaka strives to share verified information and expert research to counter false narratives. As the fundraiser at the Dolci Falasteen restaurant concludes, organizer Aisha Altaf acknowledges feeling “a little less helpless” and expresses hope for the future.