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The seven-year-old LemonAid Boys of East London have captured the imagination of the public with their fundraising campaigns for Yemen and Palestine

LONDON: Two seven-year-old boys have singlehandedly managed to uplift the world of philanthropy and giving as they aim to raise “a quadrillion pounds for every country” they support.
Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq, from Ilford in east London, set up their homemade lemonade stand to raise £ 500 ($ 700) for the humanitarian crisis and famine in Yemen and, to their surprise, managed to raise £ 140,000, earning them international recognition in such a short period of time their campaign went viral.
We didn’t expect it, but we hoped it would, they told Arab News.
The fundraising initiative in Yemen caught the attention of award-winning actress and human rights activist Angelina Jolie, who was trying to draw media and international attention to Yemen’s plight.

Angelina Jolie donated very generously to the booth and sent gifts to the boys to give them more publicity. (Twitter / @ LemonAidboys)

“She (Jolie) saw the interview they gave on the BBC (website). She had tried to publicize Yemen and she is obviously considered a top celebrity, but she had a hard time getting such a sad story to speak, ”said Ayaan’s father, Shakil Moosa.
“Not many people wanted to cover it, even given its high profile. She saw the story and she thought, how can two seven year old boys get so much international attention to the famine and crisis unfolding in Yemen, how can they do it?
“She was amazing. She’s been a great inspiration and a great support in the things they’re up to … and when she’s in London next time we’re going to try and get her to come meet the boys and have a drink of lemonade, “said Moosa.
Jolie donated very generously to the booth and sent gifts to the boys to give them more publicity. On the back of that, the boys have won big accolades. They were nominated for a Gold Blue Peter Badge, the highest honor bestowed for outstanding achievement by the BBC’s children’s program, by British rapper Stormzy. Subsequently, they won the Rotary Great Britain and Ireland Young Citizen Awards for their humanitarian causes because they raised a lot of money.

Stormzy sent them a recorded message saying that at their age he didn’t make lemonade stands and inspire people the way they did. “I would like to nominate you for a Peter Blue Gold badge, you are a pair of little legends, wear it with pride because you deserve it,” he said.
They have also received support from some of their favorite footballers, including Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United and David Luiz of Arsenal.
During the Muslim month of Ramadan, the boys raised £ 25,000 for the Rohingya by selling lemonade and with international donations through their JustGiving page.
“We squeezed the lemons, then we made the lemonade with our special ingredients, then we stayed outside, then we got the money, we gave it to the bank, then the bank paid into our charity. “the boys said. .

Why the lemonade? “Because we think everyone loves lemonade, and we love lemonade too,” they said.
While still raising funds for Yemen and the Rohingya, Ayaan and Mikaeel have also turned their attention to the Palestinian cause, following an 11-day war that rocked the Gaza Strip last month.
“People in Palestine are injured and they have no more water, food and homes, because their homes are being bombed and we wanted to help them,” Ayaan said.
Mikaeel said the Palestinian issue was important to him “because people are injured and people are dying and their homes are being bombed and people are just breaking their houses down and robbing them”, referring to Sheikh Jarrah’s neighborhood. in Jerusalem where dozens of Palestinians are threatened with eviction from their homes by Israeli forces.
The boys also participated in Palestinian protests in central London organized by the British NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA).

Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £ 140,000 for Yemen. (Provided)

“We walked five kilometers but it was really hard because our legs were really hurting,” Ayaan said, but the boys added that they would do it again.
The FOA, which focuses on defending the human rights of Palestinians and protecting the sacred mosque of Al-Aqsa, held a protest on May 15 and a larger one on May 22, in which until 200,000 people marched past Downing Street in solidarity with the Palestinians. people, calling for sanctions against Israel.
Dubbed the LemonAid Boys, they have now embarked on a partnership with FOA and are expected to do a live interview with Anglo-Iraqi rapper Lowkey, who is a vocal activist on Palestinian issues.

Shamiul Joarder, of FOA, said they had seen a clear shift in the demographics of those supporting the Palestinian cause, including “young and vibrant protest groups” from their mid-to-late teens to early 1900s. mid-twenties, as well as young families with their children.
Joarder was introduced to the great job the boys do when they participate in the protest.
“We thought it was really cool, they obviously have a profile ready, they’re so young and they already care about justice, so it made sense for us to reach out and see if they wanted to do more. on Palestine and raise awareness, because we planned to do something for the students.
“We are having an Instagram interview between the boys and Lowkey and the idea was to keep it very simple and informal, but inside of that getting some basic information for young people – the bombs have stopped falling in Gaza, does that mean everything is ok now? This obviously helps develop the occupation and the fact that it’s 73 years of occupation and colonization still going on, and we should always care about justice, so that opened things up with such a dynamic young duo. involved, ”Joarder said.

The sky is the limit for boys and every milestone they reach is just one more checkbox than the initial goal of £ 500. However, they seek to diversify to strengthen their cause. They are in talks with a drink maker and have published a children’s book, all of the proceeds of which will be donated to charity.
“I don’t think they can do anything that makes me more proud. They help humanity, and they have this empathy and humility in them of wanting to help others. As parents, we help facilitate that, we help give them the platform and help them do it, but it’s their own calculation, it’s the bosses, ”Moosa said.
“They’re just two normal seven-year-old boys, they love what they do and they didn’t get carried away. They just want to continually help people and I’m extremely, extremely, extremely proud of both of them, ”he added.




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