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 • Interviews  • From Emotion to Action || A Journey of Hope and Solidarity in Pop-up for Gaza
Pop-up for Gaza

From Emotion to Action || A Journey of Hope and Solidarity in Pop-up for Gaza

Amid the devastating events in Gaza, Dawn Bississo refused to succumb to helplessness. Instead, she transformed her raw emotions into a positive and constructive initiative, founding “Pop-up for Gaza.” Join CIIN in our conversation with Dawn as she shares her inspiring journey, shedding light on the collaboration with the exceptional women behind Pop-up for Gaza and their impactful partnership with Tadamon in supporting displaced Gazan students. Dawn’s story is a testament to the power of community, collaboration, and the unwavering commitment to be the change the world needs.

How did the events in Gaza drive you to act, and what motivated you to turn your emotions into a positive and constructive initiative like Pop-up for Gaza?

We are all shocked, horrified, and saddened by what we are witnessing. The sheer scale of brutality demanded that we act and help the people of Gaza in some way. I refused to feel helpless. I knew I had to find a way to channel my raw emotions and energy into something positive and constructive, and I knew I was not alone in my feelings of helplessness; that’s how Pop-up for Gaza came to be.

Why was it important for you to address both the fundraising aspect and ensuring direct aid to Gazans without intermediaries?

Pop-up for Gaza

There were two challenges:

The first was fundraising; how and what should we do to raise the most for Gazans. The second was where would we send the money raised to ensure it reaches the Gazans directly. No middlemen.

I knew fundraising would be the easy part. We are blessed to live in a very charitable, generous, and empathetic society. I trusted people would rally around the cause and would be eager to support and contribute once we created the mechanism to raise the money.

The second challenge was the more serious of the two, given it is extremely difficult, if not nearly impossible, to send aid directly into Gaza. This ‘obstacle’ encouraged us to think creatively and locally. We quickly learned that Amman has a healthy Gazan community already living and studying within the Kingdom whose families are no longer able to support them from Gaza. That’s who we could help! And the doors quickly opened from there as we met and partnered with TADAMON, and let them be happy, which were already helping displaced Gazan students and families in Jordan.

What criteria led you to choose Tadamon as the NGO to work with? And can you tell us more about the role they play in supporting the students of Gaza?

Tadmon is a technology-enabled NGO with an online platform where you can donate directly through their website. It delivers charitable donations directly to people in need with zero organizational expenses deducted. You can log on and choose the initiative you want to support and donate directly. ‘Let’s Make Them Happy’ directly helps displaced Gazan families in Jordan; they provide food, clothes, blankets, etc., helping them find homes.

The primary goal was to tangibly help the people of Gaza in this terrible situation. It was important to give Jordanians the opportunity to play a role in helping Gaza and its people, to allow them to overcome the sense of helplessness that we all felt in the early stages of the Genocide and continue to feel today. I was touched by how much people were willing to do. It made me prouder to be a Jordanian/Palestinian and to see how our community came together in a way that showed our love and commitment to doing good.

Making sure the displaced Gazan students were able to continue their education without worrying about the looming financial stress on top of all the emotional, mental, and physical stress brought upon them. Their lives were already disrupted, and some were destroyed by these atrocities; ensuring we would alleviate the financial worry was key. We also wanted to see the effects immediately. It’s a massive responsibility when a community trusts you with their donations, so the results need to be immediate and transparent.

Can you elaborate on the role of collaboration in your initiative?

Pop-up for Gaza

The importance of community work and the responsibility to give back. Initiatives do not have to be big to make a difference; small initiatives can drastically impact lives. Whether through donations, volunteering, or simply a warm smile, a kind, sincere word—these all have power and can garner change, giving people a sense of hope and belonging. We set the example for our kids, and they naturally follow.

I was lucky to be part of a group of four exceptional women: Muna, Zeina, Tala, and Sumayah, who respect and love dearly. We instinctually had the same vision and the same approach—it’s not easy finding a collaborative and productive group to work together with. We were blessed to have each other; it made the whole experience easier. Making sure we chose the right NGO was crucial. We felt Tadamon had a clear and transparent platform where you could log on to their website and see where and who was directly benefiting.

It was initially meant to be a one-time fundraising event, but we found our community really rallied behind the Pop Up for Gaza cause that we quickly realized we had to hold a second, and we did! I’m super proud of that! We are now looking to do more.

The events have been held at various local venues that were so generously donated for our use. Between the two events, we had over 100 vendors participate by selling keffiyehs, Palestinian home accessories, jewelry, soap, dolls, the list goes on. We even had a few local jewelry designers and artists create beautiful pieces, especially for Pop-up for Gaza. We sold special products branded for the event from sweatshirts and beautifully knitted sweaters to bracelets, T-shirts, and totes. The amount of love, generosity, and energy brought by everyone who participated was beyond inspirational. Our community coming together to stand in solidarity with Palestine, in solidarity with humanity, is powerful and impactful beyond measure.

We are blessed to be able to help these students. Their strong will and faith are beautiful and inspiring to witness. They have enhanced my own faith; I am in absolute awe of each of them. My full respect and admiration for them will forever be theirs. This is a difficult time, and they need all the moral support they can get. They are away from their families at the same time worried about what will happen next. They need to know and feel we are here to support them not only financially but morally. In the end, we are all connected; their pain is ours. We are one community.

What message would you like to convey to others who may be inspired to start similar initiatives or get involved in charitable work?

J ust begin. Take the first step and address road bumps as they come. Nothing is impossible if you wholeheartedly believe in the idea you are working towards. The path will appear; just keep taking steps forward. I don’t take “no” for an answer, and I’m not a procrastinator. And if I am met with a firm “no” seems, then my advice is: work around it, find another door. Find a window! Get creative. The challenge will make success that much sweeter. Even if your impact seems small. The goal is to foster change, and if your efforts helped change even just one life, one thought, one action, one moment then you have succeeded! The power of giving has a ripple effect. It’s energy that can be felt much farther than where you stand. You absolutely can be the change.