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Gamers rally behind indie charity bundle for Palestinians | Gaza News



Palestinian software developer Rasheed Abu-Eideh has been working in games for more than 10 years.

Now, his work is being used as the centrepiece of a new charity bundle, available on independent platform, raising money to support people trapped in Palestine’s continuing humanitarian crisis.

Developed alone by Abu-Eideh over two years, Liyla and the Shadows of War tells the story of a young Palestinian girl and her family living in Gaza during the 2014 war, recalling real-life events that took place during the seven-week conflict over its roughly 15-minute playtime.

Many of the scenes depicted echo more recent events from last month’s attacks against Gaza, in which Israeli bombardments killed more than 250 Palestinians, including 66 children, as well as destroying homes, schools and hospitals.

“Games are one of the best [kinds of] media to show Palestinian stories,” Abu-Eideh told Al Jazeera.

“You have a huge potential to reach millions of people. If they are seeing what is happening on the ground, and they interact with it, they will come to support your case. We saw this happen with Black Lives Matter, and we are experiencing the same thing with the Palestinian cause.

[Courtesy of Rasheed Abu-Eideh]

“We don’t just need to raise money for Palestine,” he said. “We need to raise awareness. We need people to understand what is happening on a daily basis. It’s the way I resist this occupation. It’s not a fun thing to do. It’s something I have to do.”

Angered by the suppression of pro-Palestinian voices in mainstream media at the time, Abu-Eideh became determined to find a way to express the frustrations and grievances of his countrymen to a wider, global audience.

“I tried to translate the feelings that the Palestinians have and what they go through in their lives,” said Abu-Eideh.

“Through Liyla, I tried to put players in that experience. It feels like your decisions do not matter. Whatever decision you take, it will not change anything because you are living under occupation and under attack.

“I was also thinking about the families and the kids,” he said. “If I lost one of my kids in such an attack, how would I react? How does it feel? I wanted people to understand how hard it is to be in such a situation. I couldn’t just ignore the feeling of not doing anything.”

Four boys play football on the beach in Gaza [Courtesy: Rasheed Abu-Eideh]

Upon its original release in 2016, the game was initially rejected by Apple’s App Store because of its political commentary.

The resulting social media pushback from the wider gaming community boosted awareness of Abu-Eideh and his project, generating an unexpected surge of support and critical praise.

“Websites and journalists were talking about the game and making it more popular,” said Abu-Eideh.

“It was a breakthrough, I think. I was nominated for many awards and I participated in so many events around the world. It was shocking, in a weird way.”

Initially featuring about two dozen games, support for the bundle quickly mounted. In a matter of days, hundreds of creators and tens of thousands of contributors had rallied behind the campaign as word spread.

“This is huge,” said Abu-Eideh. “This shows how much the perspective is changing about the Palestinian story.”

The game was initially rejected by Apple’s App Store because of its political commentary [Courtesy: Rasheed Abu-Eideh]

In addition to Liyla and the Shadows of War, donors will receive access to hundreds of games, assets and soundtracks, all of them donated for free by other game developers and media creators from across the globe.

The bundle was put together by Alanna Linayre, founder and creative director of Toadhouse Games, an indie game studio based in New York that specialises in creating games with the intent of destigmatising mental illness and promoting self-care.

As a person living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), she was inspired to action after watching videos taken by Palestinians during the most recent Gaza attacks.

“I could see many of the same symptoms I have forming in young children,” Linayre told Al Jazeera.

Beyond intentions

“I thought a game bundle would be a good idea, to help in a small way. I didn’t expect for it to have the reach that it ended up having, but I’m very grateful that it grew beyond my original intentions.

“Too often, the conversation around helping others doesn’t involve those receiving the help,” she said.

“It was brave and wonderful for Rasheed to graciously allow us to highlight his game. Interactive media is rooted in active involvement.”

At the time of writing, the pay-what-you-want campaign has raised more than $650,000, far surpassing its initial funding goal of $500,000.

The proceeds will go to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, providing food assistance and protections for Palestinians in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.

“I just want to thank everyone,” said Abu-Eideh. “This amount is crazy. Even if a person didn’t have enough money to contribute and they just shared or tweeted or posted about this, or just liked a post about this, I want to thank everyone.”

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Lockdown: Gov’t to Send Direct Cash to Vulnerable People




The government on Sunday announced that it would not use the direct food distribution system to those affected by the Covid-19 lockdown but will instead send them direct cash.

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja said the national taskforce on Covid-19 has agreed to send the vulnerable people money via mobile money platform or the voucher system for those without mobile phones.

“We have agreed to have direct payment method and voucher system to provide assistance to the vulnerable people. This time, we shall not give food. People have phones, we shall use mobile money. Those who don’t have phones, we shall use voucher system [to give the relief assistance],” she said.

The Prime Minister said a committee will sit on Tuesday to determine the amount that will be given and when people will start getting the support.

This comes after President Museveni on Friday announced a total lockdown to contain the surging Covid-19 cases by halting public and private transport and restricting other businesses. He also brought down curfew time to 7pm from 9pm.

During last year’s Covid-19 induced lockdown, the government distributed food to the urban poor but many people did not receive the portions while others received half of it.

Auditor General John Muwanga reported that items valued at 55.8 billion Shillings which were distributed under the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) lacked sufficient evidence of acknowledgement to enable him verify the recipients.

He also reported the quality checks by Uganda National Bureau of Standard-UNBS on a sample of 14,069 metric tonnes of maize flour and 8,547 metric tonnes of dry-beans which established that 2,615 metric tonnes of maize flour and 2,017 metric tonnes of dry-beans intended for distribution by OPM did not pass quality checks.

The government on Sunday reported 1,367 new infections and 34 new deaths, pushing the cumulative total of infections to 71,543 and deaths to 660.

The post Lockdown: Gov’t to Send Direct Cash to Vulnerable People first appeared on ChimpReports.

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Ethiopia elections 2021: Abiy Ahmed faces first vote amid conflict




His reformist zeal saw him win the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, but just a year later, he waged a military operation in his own country – deploying troops to Tigray to oust the TPLF as the region’s ruling party after it seized military bases in what Mr Abiy saw as a bid to overthrow him.

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New Cabinet to Be Sworn-In Today




Parliament has scheduled today Monday 21, 2021 for the inauguration of the new cabinet ministers.

For the whole of last week, 79 ministers were vetted by Parliament’s Appointments Committee led by Deputy Speaker Anita Among.

Two other appointees missed out reportedly due to health related challenges.

The swearing in event is being conducted with extreme caution by ensuring that all in attendance are free of Covid19.

President Yoweri Museveni was on Friday 18 forced to lock the country after fatalities of the novel virus spiked again.

Earlier on, Parliament was forced to scale down its work force after rumours that over 100 Members of Parliament were battling Covid-19.

The Institution’s Director of Communications Chris Obore however clarified on Friday that those affected attended crowded events; The State of Nation Address (SONA) and Budget Reading events.

The above events were held on June 4 and June 10, 2021 respectively.

“Over 3,000 people that included MPs, staff of Parliament, Police, ISO, SFC, Service Providers, Journalists, Prisons staff and invited guests were tested for COVID-19,” Obore explained.

“Out of all those tested for the events, approximately 100 came out positive. Note that Parliament has 529MPs (approximately 30 Parliament staff were manning the events,” he pointed out.

Obore refuted allegations the one hundred cases were from a sample of more than 3000 and disclosed that some had already recovered.

The post New Cabinet to Be Sworn-In Today first appeared on ChimpReports.

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