“It’s the three ‘L’s’ that will keep you happy: Love, Live, and laugh” says a smiling Lara to me in a reassuring tone. Lara Hawwash, 28, a human rights activist, women empowerment leader, event planner, social influencer, and mum of two has always been loved by the community but this year, the community’s support for her exploded as she fought for the Palestinian cause.
“What’s different this time around about the Palestinian cause?” I ask Lara, who sits there explaining to me the long history of Israel’s attack on the Palestinian people.
“I believe this time, with the power of social media, we are seeing footage we have never seen before. I have seen live videos of bombings, abuse of children and women, and disturbing images and videos that I have come to realise have long been censored from media in the past. But social media has given every one a platform. Everyone is a reporter now and footage of what is happening, sensitive or not, is being shared as much as some agendas would like to have it silenced. Giving people this power to speak up has given the disprivileged people in Palestine a voice like we have never seen before..,” indicates a passionate Lara.
Since the attacks on Gaza and Quds broke out, Lara has been fighting tooth and nail to have the Palestinians voices heard. “It’s been a long fight for me and my family..” explains Lara as she shows me a picture of her son back in 2017, only five years old back then, holding the Palestinian flag in a Sydney protest and I cannot help but admire her passion as I sit there listening to her story.
“It’s been a long fight for us, and having that power now that I have on my social media platforms, namely Instagram, Facebook and Tiktok, I have not stopped posting about the Palestinian cause one day since the attacks broke out..,” Lara continues.
“You can’t deny the power of social media these days. People are on their phones for a big portion of the day. And I believe that the cease fire in Palestine was achieved mainly due to the huge impact social media brought about. And this was actually the first time we see common people actually go to the border and physically fight for the Palestinian rights..,” Lara continues.
Lara narrates to me how she’s been participating in the protests in Sydney, along with her son, mother, twin brothers, and lots of friends. She was also interviewed on Bent Jbeil Channel and SBS and participated in a mini play, organsied by Zeinab Hawshar and Rayanne Hussain, demonstrating what happens to women in Palestine.
But it doesn’t end there. As much as Lara is aware that raising the Palestinian voice is vital, she also knows that financial help is a must too.
“I have been sharing in protests and using my platforms, but I won’t stop there,” Lara tells me.
“I am organising a fundraising dinner (for men and women) to be held on the 9 June at the Holiday Inn Hotel. I aim at raising as much money as possible for Palestine which will be transferred through Ausrelief which takes no commission at all and will give the money directly through their offices in Ghaza to Palestinians in need,” Lara announces.
The support for her upcoming event has been overwhelming, Lara tells me. “As soon as I announced the event on my social media platforms, I was overwhelmed by the support from individuals and businesses from different backgrounds, cultures and religions..,” Lara happily tells me, counting above a whopping 30 businesses that have already offered their support, services and some of which have donated already.
The Palestinian Fundraising Dinner, to be held in June, will also feature a silent and loud auction, special guest speakers, a play, community businesses offering samples of their products and of course a dinner. Lara aims at making money through the donations, the auction and through the sales of the tickets. Her goal is to raise at least $5000 for Palestine.
“It’s the least I can do. God has blessed me with people’s trust and love and I will use that for a good cause,” Lara concludes.
“Why do you do this?”, I cannot help but ask Lara as I observe her passion for charity work, which has been going on for several years now and through many events she has organised. Lara is silent for a few seconds before she wraps up, “To please Allah. I don’t expect or want anything in return from people. The Prophet (s) ever only sought to please Allah, expecting nothing in return from others, and I believe we should all take his lead”.