By Lee-Yandra Paulsen
Project Smile, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives of children in need, has launched a new initiative aimed at spreading joy to children in Palestine. The campaign invites individuals worldwide to participate by creating drawings, writing letters, composing poems, or even recording videos expressing hope and solidarity for the children in Gaza.
In a recent interview on VOC’s Sunday Live, Project Smile Directors, Aneeka Moosa, and Zayaan Moosa-Sadien shared insights into the organization’s origins and its evolution over the years.
“Project Smile was started in 2014 in memory of our sister, who was very passionate about children and education. She passed away in 2013. We chose the name Project Smile because our sister was known for her smile,” explained Zayaan. The initial focus of the project was on raising funds for underprivileged schools in Mitchell’s Plain, including four schools and a creche. The organization received substantial donations during this phase.
Zayaan highlighted the subsequent teacher appreciation efforts, where they engaged with the community on city walks, encouraging children to write messages to their favorite teachers. The directors shared their experience working with Factreton, where they organised a soup day to assess the school’s needs. Aneeka emotionally expressed witnessing extreme poverty at the school, underscoring the project’s potential to make a more significant impact beyond their initial goals.
“Because Project Smile’s core objective is to make an impact in the lives of children in need, we found it fitting to launch the Message of Hope for Gaza campaign,” stated Aneeka. The campaign calls on children globally to participate by sending messages of hope to the kids in Gaza through pictures, poems, letters, or videos. The organization has embraced hashtags such as #messageofhopeGaza, #messageofhopePalestine, #kidsofpalestine, and #projectsmileforPalestine to facilitate online sharing. Children without social media accounts can submit their contributions directly to Project Smile on Instagram (@project_smile_za).
Project Smile emphasized the distinctive nature of its Gaza campaign, focusing on a creative approach rather than traditional humanitarian aid. The organization aims to make participation accessible to everyone, including young children, allowing even two-year-olds to express solidarity with the people of Gaza.