PALESTINE REFUGEE CHILDREN IN GAZA AND LEBANON RECEIVE DREAM BAGS FROM JAPAN

14 May 2015

‘Dream Bags’ from Japanese Lay Buddhist Organization Rissho Kosei -kai (RKK) have been distributed to almost 10,000 Palestine refugee children studying in UNRWA schools in Gaza and Lebanon.

The Dream Bags are hand-made by families in Japan and filled with stationary, a message card and other items. More than 416,000 have been shared with Palestine refugee children in Gaza, Lebanon and the West Bank since 1999. The bags are designed not only to bring happiness to children affected by conflicts, but also to help RKK member families learn about the lives of children in other parts of the world and gain a sense of mutual unity and compassion.    

UNRWA-UNESCO  Director of Education, Dr. Caroline Pontefract, said, “The contributions by RKK are more than just bags provided to Palestine refugee children in Gaza and Lebanon, they are a special reminder to the children that they are not forgotten. Having the necessary supplies when attending schools is important and helps encourage children in their educational journey, we appreciate the continued support by RKK. ”

RKK Dharma Mission Bureau Director Yuji Numata said RKK Donate-a-Meal Fund for Peace has sent ‘Dream Bags’ to Palestine refugee children affected by conflict for 16 years, “thanks to the great cooperation with UNRWA”. “Dream Bags are gifts from Japanese children, including a message card, and other items, filled up with love, prayer and wholeheartedness, to provide mental support and care about Palestine refugee children,” Rev. Numata said. “Rissho Kosei-kai would like to continue to make its best efforts to contribute to peace activities, in helping Palestine refugee children not only transcend their suffering and sorrow, but also bring smiles, joy and hope through the Dream Bag Project.”

ABOUT RKK

RKK is a Japanese Buddhist organization that established a fund titled ‘Donate-a-Meal Fund for Peace’.  In 1975, RKK launched the Donate-a-Meal movement,  where member families skip a meal several times a month to save money for humanitarian assistance for those affected by conflicts and natural disasters and for other peace activities. Contributions to UNRWA from the Donate-a-Meal Fund have included the Dream Bags, nursing scholarships since 1995, food aid for Gaza in 2012 and support for the Gaza Flash Appeal in 2014.  

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at more than US$ 106  million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness

UNRWA Spokesperson

Mobile:

+972 (0)54 240 2659

Office:

+972 (0)2 589 0267

Sami Mshasha

Chief of Communications & Arabic Language Spokesperson

Mobile:

+972 (0)54 216 8295

Office:

+972 (0)2 589 0724