By Majd Othman

KUWAIT: With the harsh conditions that people in Palestine and Gaza in particular are suffering from due to the siege imposed on the Strip by the Zionist entity, Gazans are struggling to obtain many of their basic rights. One of them is the right to join college, but many cannot do so due to the poor financial conditions in Gaza.

"Hibr Campaign" is an initiative that was established last year by Haya Al-Shatti, a Kuwaiti woman who decided to lend a hand and support students in Gaza by opening a donation link under the aegis of the International Islamic Charity Organization, to give an opportunity to Gaza's students to enroll into university and complete their higher education.

Kuwait Times met Shatti, founder of the initiative, to discuss her campaign that has already succeeded to reach more than 1,000 college students in Gaza and other areas of Palestine. Shatti spoke about the main impetus that led her to start the campaign. "After visiting Gaza on several occasions, I felt I had to support the people there in a way that assists them over a long term and not just temporarily, and help them better their lives. I found education could be a great step towards supporting the people in the Gaza Strip," she said.

"I found outstanding students in Gaza facing extremely difficult conditions with no electricity, while their parents were suffering from a severe shortage of financial resources. So, I decided to launch the 'Hibr campaign' in Kuwait in Ramadan to support college students in Gaza. We aimed to raise KD 120,000 ($360,000), but collected KD 200,000 ($600,000)," Shatti pointed out.

Shatti elaborated on her choice to support the education issue. "I supported this issue because education should be a basic right for everyone due to its importance in building the future of mankind. When people live in difficult conditions such as poverty, they can overcome it over the years, but obtaining a college degree after passing a certain age is not easy, due to the difficult circumstances that the people of Gaza are living in," she told Kuwait Times.

"I am dealing with a class of people in Gaza who have already graduated and are academically superior. If we do not help them, it would be like destroying an entire family and not just the future of one outstanding student. I believe that these students, after finishing their studies, will be able to help their families by getting a decent job that would help them live a decent life, which is any person's natural right," Shatti added.

Shatti explained the campaign includes young Kuwaiti women volunteers who help in coordinating the campaign work. Their ages are similar to the ages of the Gazan students, which helps to get more support from them due to their knowledge of the importance of education at their age. "There is a huge number of students who graduated from schools and need our support to help join colleges, in addition to those who are already in universities. The previous campaign only covered the first year of college costs for more than 1,000 students in Gaza, and they still have more years to go to complete their degrees," she said.

"Due to the large number of students who still need support to complete their university education, we decided to set categories depending on the labor market's need to give top priority to students who are willing to study the required majors such as medicine, due to the great need and shortage of doctors in Gaza," Shatti explained.

She said the campaign began independently, and later came under the International Islamic Charity Organization. "The donations collected is a combined effort between individuals and families in Kuwait and government and private schools and universities in the country," she said. Shatti hopes the campaign can be adopted by charities in other GCC countries to have a wider base to support students in the Gaza Strip.