‘We all need to eat’: Loudoun Co. student fundraising to support World Central Kitchen in Gaza

Independence High School junior Leena Wahla became unsettled as she happened upon pictures of starving children and families in Gaza.

With Ramadan underway, she thought about the importance of having food available, because Muslims who observe the holiday fast from sunrise to sundown. So, Wahla started researching ways she could help.

As she learned more about the work various nonprofits are doing to help in the region, she set a specific goal.

“I wanted to make sure that it was actually going to go and benefit them — the people in Gaza directly,” Wahla said.

Wahla eventually came across chef and activist Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen. On Monday, the organization said it had a boat carrying 200 tons of food and a team assembled in Cyprus that’s prepared to make a maritime delivery of aid to Gaza.

World Central Kitchen is also fundraising to support communities in Gaza, and Wahla ultimately decided to assist with those efforts. She launched a fundraiser with a $10,000 goal, and has already raised more than $4,000, she said.

“I want to try and do everything in my power to help, and be able to go to sleep knowing that I’m doing what I can to help,” Wahla said.

Many donors, Wahla said, are members of her Ashburn, Virginia, community who have been wanting to help, but had difficulty “finding places that are actually donating the money to nonprofit organizations that are going to donate the money to Gaza directly, and to people who are starving and really need it.”

“I just wanted to make it easier for them to have access,” Wahla said. “Someone needs to take a stand to help these people who are starving in third-world countries.”

Many of Wahla’s friends are taking steps, such as boycotting certain brands. She’s hoping to do more.

“We’re all humans, we all need to eat,” Wahla said. “We all have basic human rights that we need to maintain.”

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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