A California inmate donated his life savings to relief in Gaza — and then a GoFundMe campaign raised $100k for him

A screenshot of a GoFundMe page titled "Help a Generous Soul Reenter Society from Prison"

An incarcerated man in Sacramento named Hamza has reportedly made a generous donation to support Gazans in crisis. 

The inmate, who has been in prison for 40 years due to a tragic accident in his teen years, donated $17.74 this week. 

Justin Mashouf, an LA-based filmmaker and a correspondent of Hamza's, shared this act of generosity on X (formerly Twitter). 

“This donation is the sum of 136 hours of his labor in the prison working as a porter/janitor,” Mashouf said.

In prison, Hamza makes 13 cents per hour, which according to Mashouf, means this donation accounted for his life savings. 

While Hamza’s decades of nearly unpaid labor to the prison system are emblematic of the systemic exploitation of incarcerated individuals in America, his generosity makes a poetic statement about injustice in the U.S. and abroad.

Fortunately, advocates from all walks of life recognized this parallel and responded Mashouf’s post with an outpouring of support. 

This led to the creation of a GoFundMe campaign for Hamza, to add money to his commissary fund and build a financial well for his upcoming release. It raised over $100,000 in one day.

“In the 80’s, Hamza accidentally fired a gun at a loved one, which, killing the victim, [led] to his imprisonment for over four decades,” Mashouf wrote on the GoFundMe page.

“He has lived with the pain of losing his family member due to his own mistake every day for decades. While in prison, he has become a devout Muslim and has been pleading for parole for decades.”

Thanks to a new California law that grants parole opportunities to minors charged as adults, Mashouf wrote, as well as hiring a private attorney through funds gathered in the Muslim community, Hamza has been granted parole and will walk free at the end of March. 

“Your contributions will empower him to transition back into society with dignity and security after years of isolation,” Mashouf wrote. “With your help, Hamza will access essential resources, secure housing and transportation, and navigate the challenges of his new freedom.”

The goal of the fundraiser was originally $15,000 to help provide essentials and an emergency fund for Hamza upon his release, but countless donors were moved by his act of generosity and faith. 

After surpassing $100,000 in donations, the fundraiser was suspended. 

“Donating the little you have shouldn’t be something that we as a society must do to relay a message, but thank you for your generosity,” one donor wrote. “I hope your life is filled with kindness and love the moment you step out [into] the world. I empathize with your story and wish nothing but peace and love to you.”

“We are all working towards a free Palestine,” another wrote. “We are all working towards collective liberation!”

Hamza’s faith and gratitude were clearly on display in a note he wrote and shared with GoFundMe donors through Mashouf.

“I humbly and respectfully, with gratitude, greet all of you with As - Salaamu Alaikum (which means, May the Peace, Safety, Security, and Prosperity of God be upon all of you),” Hamza wrote.

After sharing his gratitude, Hamza provided a call to action for all of the donors to continue supporting relief efforts in Palestine — and beyond. 

“Life is the seed of the Divine Spark of our Creator,” he wrote. “It is compassion, mercy, kindness, charity, having empathy, standing up for right, truth, and justice. It’s giving away just one date fruit to someone needy.”

Header image courtesy of Justin Mashouf/GoFundMe

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February 28, 2024 1:41 PM
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