GAZA: A seaside cafe lounge built entirely from recycled materials has become the first of its kind in Gaza.
Hana Al-Ghoul, a Palestinian woman in her 30s, and a team of young entrepreneurs are the inspiration behind the eco-friendly Al-Bahar Elna (The Sea is For Us) venture.
Through the cafeteria, Al-Ghoul and her volunteer helpers urge visitors to Sheikh Ajleen beach, southwest of Gaza City, not to pollute the area.
Cafe seats are made either of used tires or wooden cargo boxes, ornamental plants are potted in old plastic fuel boxes, and the walls are constructed from recycled waste containers and adorned with artworks produced using pieces of cloth.
Al-Ghoul, born in the coastal Egyptian city of Alexandria, told Arab News that the idea to set up the cafeteria was aimed at urging people, indirectly and in a fun way, to preserve the seashore and was part of an integrated environment-friendly project to keep the beach clean.
She said her team also used theatrical, musical, and lyrical performances to put across their message.
“We are waiting for a large number of people to gather on the seashore to enjoy our theatrical performances that carry the message of preserving the beach and the environment,” she added.
The cafeteria was damaged during the Israeli Gaza conflict in May and a library featuring several plants and a children’s books section was hit.
Cafe manager Ali Muhanna, 33, one of Al-Ghoul’s friends, said they started the initiative in 2019 after Gaza’s municipality granted them a plot to launch the project.
They also gained funding from the Abdul Mohsen Al-Qattan Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
“We started at that time by training a group of young people on the methodology of community organization, which allows using the available resources to make necessary changes and finding alternatives. The training covered areas such as stand-up comedy, theater skits, singing, drawing, music, and recycling,” Muhanna added.
The number of participants in the initiative has fallen from 45 to seven due to deteriorating economic conditions in the area.