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Stratford couple set up fundraiser to help Ramy and Mareena Tarazi, who are sheltering in Gaza church with 15-month-old son Zohair





A STRATFORD couple are going all out to help friends stuck in horrendous conditions in war-torn Palestine to escape.

Ramy Tarazi, 30, his wife Mareena, 24, and their 15-month-old son Zohair have so far survived the bombing of their homeland which, reportedly, has seen at least 30,000 Palestinians killed by the Israeli military since October.

Ramy Tarazi, 30, and his wife Mareena, 24, and their 15-month-old son Zohair.
Ramy Tarazi, 30, and his wife Mareena, 24, and their 15-month-old son Zohair.

The young family, who are Christians, are currently sheltering with 300 others in a Saint Porphyrios Orthodox Church, Gaza Old Town.

Food is running out and they are desperate to escape. Their hope is to cross the border into Egypt at Rafah, but in order to do so they must pay $5,000 each (about £12,000).

Tony Homer will be running the Shakespeare Half Marathon to help his wife Marion’s friend out of Rafa in Gaza. Photo: Mark Williamson
Tony Homer will be running the Shakespeare Half Marathon to help his wife Marion’s friend out of Rafa in Gaza. Photo: Mark Williamson

Marion Homer, who knows Ramy through her work with Christian churches abroad, has set up a Gofundme page to help raise the funds that will allow them to flee Gaza.

Meanwhile husband Tony Homer is running the Shakespeare Half Marathon in a bid to boost the fundraising efforts.

The family home is bombed
The family home is bombed

Marion told the Herald: “Since the news of October last year I’ve been trying to contact Ramy. For months I heard nothing and feared the worst. You can imagine my relief when last week I at last received a Facebook message and heard Ramy, his lovely wife Mareena and baby son Zohair were still alive. But this was quickly followed by a desperate need to help him if I possibly could.

“As he shared messages of what his life was now like I felt my own ‘problems’ pale to nothingness.”

Zohair
Zohair

Before the devastating conflict in Gaza, Ramy was a director at the Arab Orthodox Cultural and Social Centre, which supported Christian and Muslim communities and promoted peace.

Sadly both the centre and the family home have been bombed, and the couple have lost many friends and loved ones. Tragically both Ramy’s parents were killed when a missile struck part of the church the family were sheltering in.

Zohair in his baby walker
Zohair in his baby walker

“This dreadful war has shattered Ramy’s dreams of a bright future for his family and community,” explained Marion. “His home and workplace lie in ruins, and he now finds himself with nothing at all.

“Ramy’s sole focus now is on securing the safety of his young family. He said to me via Facebook this week, ‘I just need to save my son; we do not have enough milk or food for him.’ Their only hope lies in leaving Gaza, to seek refuge in a safer place.

“However, to make the journey is very expensive; the cost of crossing the Rafah border amounts to £12,000.

Zohair's baby walker seen in the bombed ruins of the church in which his grandparents died.
Zohair's baby walker seen in the bombed ruins of the church in which his grandparents died.

“It’s a lot of money, but it’s vital for Ramy. He’s so worried about Zohair. Ramy loves his country but his home has been destroyed by bombs – reluctantly he has decided the only option for him and his family is to somehow raise the money to pay the ‘coordination fees’ demanded by the Egyptian officials require and escape across the Rafah crossing 40km away.”

Meanwhile back on Stratford soil, Tony is preparing to run the half marathon to help Ramy and his family.

He did the race two years ago as part of a team running in the memory of Stratford teenager Lottie Rousell, who sadly died in 2019 and was helped by Myton Hospice.

“Marion suggested running for Ramy and his family, so that feels like the right thing to do,” said Tony.

“I might not be in the peak of physical fitness, but I am determined. I’m getting a ‘Rescue Ramy, Gaza to Rafah’ in Palestine colours printed on a T-shirt to spur me on.”

Marion added: “It’s one small part of what we need to do – it’s a lot of money. After the half marathon we’ll be looking for lots of other fundraising things to do.”

The couple say any contribution is gratefully received, no matter how small.

They continued: “Imagine what it would be like to suddenly have nothing… Your house and work have been bombed, and you have a baby to look after… and food running out. Any donation is welcome. And it’s an opportunity to make a real difference, to help someone directly.

“We can’t save everybody in Gaza, but we can help this family.”

To donate visit https://gofund.me/1ac9c038 Facebook page ‘Rescue Ramy – Gaza to Rafah’, where updates are also shared.



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