Sri Lanka: Colombo's Dolci Falasteen Leads Fundraising Effort for Gaza

In the heart of Sri Lanka's bustling capital, Colombo, the Dolci Falasteen restaurant stands as a beacon of culinary and charitable endeavor.

by Faruk Imamovic
Sri Lanka: Colombo's Dolci Falasteen Leads Fundraising Effort for Gaza
© Getty Images News/Buddhika Weerasinghe

Seven weeks following Israel's assault on Gaza, this eatery, known for its traditional Palestinian cuisine, transforms into a hub of humanitarian support.

Fundraising Through Flavors

On an ordinary day, Dolci Falasteen offers a tranquil respite from Colombo's lively atmosphere.

Its warm, Arabic lantern-lit setting provides a cozy dining experience. However, the restaurant recently buzzed with activity, becoming the venue for a significant fundraising event spearheaded by young entrepreneurs, all united to support Palestine.

The brainchild of this initiative is Aisha Altaf, a 24-year-old entrepreneur and founder of the LURE Foundation. Her organization invited local businesses to participate in the fundraiser, encouraging them to donate at least 10 percent of their proceeds to Gaza, with many vendors contributing their entire income.

Altaf, moved by the harrowing images from Gaza, felt compelled to act. “After constantly seeing graphic content of what’s happening to the people in Gaza, I felt immense guilt for having the most basic things like sleeping on a bed, having water, and hot meals,” she shared with Al Jazeera.

Her strong words, "This is most definitely a genocide," reflect her deep concern for the crisis.

A Community's Compassion

The LURE Foundation partnered with the Africa Muslims Agency, an organization established in 1987, to funnel the aid to Gaza.

The fundraiser, which amassed over 2.1 million Sri Lankan rupees ($6,400), aims to provide essential items such as meals and winter jackets for children, particularly those displaced and living on the streets. Among the participants was 14-year-old Mumina Hilmy, who managed a stall selling handmade bracelets and key tags featuring the Palestinian flag's colors.

“I made these during my free time and recess at school,” Hilmy told Al Jazeera, demonstrating the wide-reaching impact of this cause. Customers like 25-year-old Miquelaa Fernando, who purchased a bracelet, expressed a sense of empowerment through their participation.

“We feel helpless when so many bigger organisations and governments haven’t done anything to help other than the ceasefire [in Gaza]. By coming here, I felt this is something I could do to show some form of support,” Fernando remarked.

The event, showcasing cosmetics, food, perfumes, toys, and stationery, symbolized more than just commerce; it represented a collective stand in solidarity with Palestine. Sajida Shabir, another participant and a 26-year-old restaurateur, summed up the sentiment well: “I’ve donated through other platforms earlier.

But rather than just donating money, I’m putting in my effort here through sales. So it makes me feel good about it”.