AYMAN QWAIDER was in his late 20s before he got to see his first movie in a cinema.
It wasn’t through choice, as Mr Qwaider grew up in the Gaza Strip where buildings were bombed to smithereens, movement was highly restricted, and electricity rationed.
The Palestinian and his wife Sameeha managed to escape the occupied territory in 2014 when she was accepted to do a PhD at Murdoch University, but most of his family are still there, including a 12-year-old brother who’s lived through three wars.
The couple now live with their 20-month-old son Tamim in Spearwood, and Mr Qwaider works as a community officer, helping the disabled.
Now settled, the Qwaiders want to give something back to the community and are raising funds for a children’s mobile cinema to visit ravaged communities and schools in Gaza.
“The funds will keep the cinema on the road and help to pay for things like a generator, which lets them screen movies when there is no electricity available,” he says.
“We are working to expand our reach and eventually visit refugee camps and hospitals as well.
“This service is really important as movies provide a form of escapism, and children in Gaza need that.
“More than half of the two million people living there are kids.”
Back in Gaza, Ms Qwaider’s mother has cancer and lives just one hour from a hospital; but despite months of phone calls, they’ve been unable to arrange the necessary permits for her to cross check points and receive life-saving medical treatment.
“It’s so frustrating, but we do as much as we can to help,” he says.
Mr Qwaider will raise funds for the mobile cinema at a Palestinian food stall at Manning Park farmers market over the next two Saturdays.
You can also donate at http://www.gofundme.com/gaza-childrens-cinema-2v7zz5dg.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK