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Prisoner donated 13 cent/hour wage to Gaza. So, strangers raised over $100k for his parole.

He donated all of his janitorial wages to help people in Gaza and got a pleasant surprise in return from kind strangers.

Prisoner donated 13 cent/hour wage to Gaza. So, strangers raised over $100k for his parole.
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe | Justin Mashouf

Justin Mashouf, a filmmaker, was working on a documentary titled "The Honest Struggle" when he first came in contact with an incarcerated man named Hamza in 2009. They bonded over the years and recently Hamza reached out to Mashouf and expressed his desire to help donate money to the civilians in Gaza, Palestine, who are affected by ongoing conflicts. Mashouf decided to help Hamza in his noble cause, but he was surprised to see that Hamza had all the wages from his janitorial job—which, at 13 cetns an hour, came out to to $17.74—to charity.

Image Source: GoFundMe | Justin Mashouf
Image Source: GoFundMe | Justin Mashouf

According to The Washington Post, Hamza requested the outlet not publish his real identity and chose to be referred to as "Hamza" because he feared that he would be risking his parole status by seeking media attention. Mashouf received Hamza's pay stub for 136 hours of janitorial work for the California Health Care Facility in Northern California and realized that despite donating the meager sum, Hamza genuinely wanted to help the people suffering in Gaza. So, Mashouf took to X (previously Twitter) and shared Hamza's pay stub with the public.



 

"An incarcerated brother I am in correspondence with donated $17.74 for relief efforts in Gaza. This donation is the sum of 136 hours of his labor in the prison working as a porter/janitor. May his sincere donation be multiplied by the Creator," Mashouf wrote in his post. Mashouf also revealed when Hamza pitched his idea to donate to Gaza's civilians after he saw the devastating news from prison. "These last few months, he's been very anxious about the state of the world, especially since he knows he is reentering the real world," Mashouf said in a phone interview with the outlet. "But when people began showing him kindness, it helped ready him for this reentry."

Soon, strangers on the internet started to enquire if they could contribute to Hamza's prison pay stub in any way and that let Mashouf set up a GoFundMe campaign. To his utter disbelief, the campaign raised more than $102,000 that will go towards 56-year-old Hamza to support after he gets out on parole in March 2024. Hamza has spent the last 40 years of his life in prison, but his empathy toward the people of Gaza opened doors of kindness for him as well.

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Image Source: GoFundMe | Justin Mashouf

"He gave people hope by showing how selfless he is, and then they gave him hope through their kindness," Mashouf said, adding how he had first collected money from generous people through Venmo, but he was soon overwhelmed by the outpouring of donations. "There were thousands of people who wanted to help," he said and eventually set up the GoFundMe page. According to the legal records of Hamza, he was sentenced to prison in 1986 after he pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder count of an uncle when he was a teenager.

"Hamza accidentally fired a gun at a loved one, leading to his imprisonment for over four decades," the details on the GoFundMe page read. Hamza was denied to be released on parole by the parole board at least 10 times between 1995 and 2013. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation records show that Hamza was denied parole three more times between 2014 and 2023. In 1989, Hamza converted to Islam. The GoFundMe page also details how Hamza would be spending his money upon release.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | RDNE Stock project
Representative Image Source: Pexels | RDNE Stock project

He would invest in health care, housing, clothes, job search and training. But Hamza also wants to donate a share of his funds to disabled people. "He said whatever has already been donated is sufficient for him," Mashouf mentioned. "And that he didn't want to distract people from those who were suffering more than him." "I look forward to the promise of life, happiness, struggles and dreams, to soar and spread my wings, to be a man, a human being once again now that I know the preciousness and the incalculable value of Life," Hamza wrote in an update on the GoFundMe page. He is looking forward to donating his possible last paycheck from prison to the civilians in Gaza.



 

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