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Rice Mutual Aid partners with student organizations to fundraise for Gaza

By James Cancelarich     5/24/24 11:48am

Rice Mutual Aid launched a fundraising campaign for Gaza on May 13 in partnership with 15 other student organizations at Rice, including Rice Students for Justice in Palestine, Rice Pride, the Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice and the Rice Muslim Student Association. RMA will direct donations towards American Near East Refugee Aid, a non-governmental organization that provides humanitarian aid and emergency relief in Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan. A day after its launch, the campaign raised over $2,000 according to RMA’s Instagram.

Agustin Del Campo, an RMA organizer, said RMA partnered with other student organizations to expand the campaign’s reach and further involve the Rice community in support of Gaza.

“There is a collective will at Rice to want to help, to want to do their part, in helping the civilians in Gaza,” Del Campo, a 2024 graduate of Will Rice College, said. “We are an organization designed to help the student community … and we wanted to provide students with an opportunity to help others.”

RMA, created in fall 2020 shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset, typically redirects donations to support students in financial need, such as helping offset medical, transportation and housing costs. For the time being, all mutual aid donations go towards ANERA, Del Campo said — the fundraiser is slated to last a month, but may extend depending on student support.

Del Campo said RMA appreciated ANERA’s operations, including response logs quantifying its humanitarian aid efforts. A May 14 response log reports ANERA had provided 74,400 meals, attended to 27 patients and conducted psychosocial support groups with 299 children that day.

“Being able to associate with an organization that’s so transparent about their actions and the work they do in Gaza made us feel very comfortable partnering with them,” Del Campo said.

Kathryn Jarjoura, a Rice SJP organizer, said Rice SJP endorsed the fundraiser and cross-posted donation information, but were otherwise not involved in running the campaign.

“However, this kind of cross-campus collaboration for Palestine between student [organizations] is unprecedented and promising in terms of what organizing on campus will look like next year,” Jarjoura, a 2024 graduate of Baker College, wrote in an email to the Thresher. 

HACER co-presidents Pamela Duarte and Camila DeAlba said that they were approached by RMA to help “uplift and disseminate” RMA’s fundraising efforts and message.

“The decision for us was simple, given that this cause is to assist those in need and felt important to us,” Duarte and DeAlba wrote in an email to the Thresher. “We both support and appreciate the involvement of the wider community in this meaningful fundraiser and ultimately support the right of students to protest against injustices.”

The original campaign announcement provides resources for students to donate directly to ANERA, the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, a nonprofit providing medical care and emergency relief to Palestinian children, and the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which describes itself as an “independent Palestinian National Society” providing Palestinians with humanitarian assistance, healthcare and social services. 

The post also encourages donations towards two GoFundMe pages that are part of Operation Olive Branch, a community grassroots effort to “connect with and amplify Palestinian voices in an effort to support their critical needs,” including mutual aid requests.

“It’s people helping people,” Del Campo said. “That is what Rice Mutual Aid does.”

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