Hamada Shaqoura: The Gaza food blogger nurturing displaced Palestinian children from his tent

Hamada_Shaqoura
6 min read
14 June, 2024

Hamada Shaqoura is a well-known food blogger from Gaza who has garnered attention for his efforts to provide cooked meals, mostly from aid packages, to displaced children amid the ongoing war.

His work exemplifies the power of community-driven initiatives and the impact of leveraging social media to raise awareness and mobilise support amid the Israeli war on Gaza.

"Each meal prepared from an aid package tells a story of hope and determination. By sharing these stories, I want to humanise our struggle and keep the plight of Gaza in the global consciousness"

Hamada built his online reputation as a passionate food blogger, sharing cafes and restaurants in Gaza and highlighting the rich culinary heritage of the region.

When the war began, however, Hamada shifted his focus towards humanitarian efforts, using his platform to support and feed displaced children in Gaza.

“I am originally a food blogger with around seven years of experience showcasing Gaza’s once-thriving food scene. However, in a few short months, my life shifted from enjoying Gaza's culinary delights to merely eating for survival and cooking for displaced families,” Hamada told The New Arab.

His earlier posts featured warm flatbreads, wraps brimming with savoury fillings, and crispy, juicy broasted chicken.

Now his Instagram feed has turned into videos of him batch-cooking different meals using aid packages, including canned food.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Hamada Sho (@hamadashoo)

"I document these moments not just to show the world the harsh realities we face, but to highlight our resilience and resourcefulness," Hamada says. 

"Each meal prepared from an aid package tells a story of hope and determination. By sharing these stories, I want to humanise our struggle and keep the plight of Gaza in the global consciousness."

A new reality

Owning a marketing business and being a food blogger in Gaza was about celebrating culture and promoting local businesses for Hamada. Today, his role has transformed into something much more urgent: feeding those who have lost everything.

“Batch cooking in these conditions is challenging, but it's a way to bring some semblance of normalcy and comfort to these children,” he explained.

“Food products are limited, so I have to be innovative with what we have, turning basic ingredients and canned goods into something special and creating dishes they miss so much,” he added.

Hamada has been documenting his journey on social media as it keeps him connected to the world and helps raise awareness about the situation in Gaza while documenting his cooking and distribution efforts.

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“Each post is a small beacon of hope, showing that even in the darkest times, we can find ways to care for each other. The support and encouragement I receive from around the globe is what keeps me going,” Hamada told The New Arab.

“I also aim to highlight the harsh realities of life in a conflict zone while showcasing the resilience and solidarity of the community in Gaza despite everything we are going through,” Hamada added.

Through his engaging content, Hamada has been able to mobilise his followers, encouraging them to contribute to his cause either through donations or by spreading the word.

Community efforts

Hamada collaborates with community kitchens and local organisations, such as Watermelon Relief, to prepare large quantities of food, using donations and volunteer support to maximize the reach and impact of his efforts.

Local volunteers play a significant role in Hamada’s initiatives, helping with food preparation, packaging, and distribution.

"When I see the smiles and excitement on the children's faces as they taste a dish they miss, it's a reminder of why I do this"

For Hamada, this community-driven approach ensures that the aid reaches those who need it most efficiently and effectively.

In addition to the much-needed physical nourishment, the act of sharing meals provides psychological comfort and a sense of normalcy for children affected by the conflict.

For him, it’s not just about providing food; it’s about recreating the dishes that people miss, especially the children. He aims to create the flavours that bring them a sense of home and comfort in these harsh times.

“When I see the smiles and excitement on the children's faces as they taste a dish they miss, it's a reminder of why I do this. Those moments of joy are precious, and they give me the strength to keep going,” Hamada said.

Despite the challenges, knowing that he can bring a bit of happiness to their lives is the most rewarding part of this journey.

Navigating survival

Operating in a war zone presents significant logistical challenges, including securing ingredients, safe cooking locations, and reliable distribution channels.

The ongoing war poses constant security risks to Hamada, his team, and the displaced families he targets with his efforts.

“The challenges and difficulties go beyond the typical struggles of daily life,” said Hamada.

“Gas for cooking is in short supply, which makes it difficult to prepare meals consistently. Essential ingredients are also hard to come by, forcing people to rely on aid packages and canned goods, which limits the variety and nutritional value of the meals,” he explained.

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Clean water is essential for cooking and hygiene, but it is also in short supply in Gaza amid the ongoing Israeli war. The damage to water infrastructure and contamination of water sources exacerbate this problem, making it difficult to ensure that food is prepared safely according to Hamada.

"I aim to show the strength of our community and the critical importance of continued support. It’s about turning a small act of kindness into a beacon of hope for many"

Hamada’s creativity exemplifies Palestinian resilience and ingenuity. He posts content featuring meals he prepares using items from aid packages, which are crucial for Palestinians, often making the difference between survival and starvation.

While awaiting evacuation from Gaza, many Palestinians, like Hamada, find ways to survive with the bare minimum and are desperately looking for a way to leave.

Hamada and his partner Lamis, who recently welcomed a baby boy, are currently raising funds to evacuate themselves along with Hamada's parents, Nizar and Madja, and his younger sisters, Saba and Haya, from Rafah. The evacuation costs approximately $6,000 per person.

"The aid packages are a lifeline for us. Without them, many would starve. By documenting how we turn these packages into meals, I aim to show the strength of our community and the critical importance of continued support. It’s about turning a small act of kindness into a beacon of hope for many,” Hamada concluded.

Hamada and his family's GoFund page can be found here

Rodayna Raydan is a Lebanese British journalism graduate from Kingston University in London covering Lebanon

Follow her on X: @Rodayna_462