IT’S a case of from Huddersfield with love on Valentine’s Day.
Local volunteers are today joining an aid convoy of more than 100 vehicles driving from Britain to war-torn Gaza.
Zahid Akbar, 40, Pervez Rafiq, 38, and nephew Azeem Hussain, 27, will leave Westminster in London today with MP George Galloway and hundreds of others to deliver a gift of love to people affected by the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
The aid convoy is supported by the Stop the War Coalition and has been arranged by George Galloway and journalist Yvonne Ridley in conjunction with campaign group Viva Palestina.
Mr Rafiq said: “We were really shocked when we saw the news about Gaza and wanted to help.
“We’ve had a fantastic response from local businesses and got £30,000 of aid. The convoy is important not just for aid but to raise awareness of the atrocities out there.”
Fartown dad-of-two Zahid will be among those behind the wheel making the 5,000-mile trip over 17 days.
The group will travel via France, Spain and the North coast of Africa until they reach their destination – Rafah on the Egyptian border with Gaza.
He is volunteering his services as a heavy goods driver to transport £1m worth of medical supplies, food and clothing.
He said: “When I saw what was going on it touched me on a humanitarian level.
“I’m so lucky that my children are safe and warm while there are so many there suffering."
Each person involved has collected their own goods and financed their own trip.
Mr Rafiq, of Crosland Moor, and Mr Hussain, from Thornton Lodge, have raised £30,000 worth of aid in just four weeks from Huddersfield businesses.
This includes a Sprinter van for their journey and a caravan, discounted by Goodalls at Shepley.
Both vehicles will be left in Gaza for use by charities or conflict victims.
The aid items will also be handed over to charities working on the ground to distribute to the most needy.
Mr Rafiq, who runs Huddersfield legal firm, Ouch Compensation, will fly back.
Kirklees College student and qualified psychologist Mr Hussain – who is being sponsored by Tint-A-Mania.co.uk – plans to stay on for six months to counsel some of those traumatised by the fighting.
He said: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of something amazing.”
For more details, visit www.vivapalestina.co.uk