Kal Penn Wins ‘MasterChef,’ Donates Prize Money To Palestinian Refugees

Kal Penn won the MasterChef Celebrity Showdown on Monday and donated his entire winnings to Palestinian refugees.

According to NBC News, Penn, an actor and former staff member of the Obama administration as an associate director for the White House Office of Public Engagement, beat Curb Your Enthusiasm actress Cheryl Hines with his beer-braised fish tacos.

“Only in America can a guy make tacos on FOX TV, almost lose an eye, and win $25,000 to support refugees,” Penn wrote in a note he posted on Twitter. “We are so fortunate as Americans to live in a country as prosperous as ours.”

Penn picked the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to be the recipient of his $25,000 prize money.

“I’m thrilled to be helping UNRWA do its critical work in Gaza and Syria,” Penn said.

“They’re a lifeline for so many families that have been struggling for decades to meet their basic needs and achieve their rights.”

“Much of our own media attention is focused away from the human stories of children and families who are suffering due to displacement against the rule of international law, terrorism, and violence from so many sides,” Penn continued.

“So having the chance to cook to benefit refugee families on MasterChef seemed like the right thing to do.”

“[Penn’s] win will help us provide life-changing services to many Palestinian refugee families in need,” Abby Smardon, the executive director of UNRWA USA, said.

“But perhaps the most critical impact of his appearance on Fox is that Kal was able to bring the issue of Palestinian refugees to primetime U.S. television — sharing his concern for a people who have been struggling for decades to survive and thrive.”

According to the UNRWA’s official website, the organization is dedicated to helping Palestinian refugees “acquire knowledge and skills, lead long and healthy lives, achieve decent standards of living, and enjoy human rights to the fullest possible extent.” Its American branch is called UNRWA USA. The agency focuses on encompassing “education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict.”

The UNRWA was established by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) on December 8, 1949 to help assist Palestinian refugees following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. The agency started operating on May 1, 1950 and has since helped millions of refugees.

“UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees,” the site reads. “It has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees, defined as ‘persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.’ The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration.”

According to the Huffington Post, 1,300 Palestinians, which includes over 600 children, have been displaced by the Israeli demolitions in 2016. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power recently called upon the international community to help the refugees.

“Secretary Kerry recently discussed in his speech that Gaza is home to one of the world’s densest concentrations of people enduring extreme hardships with few opportunities,” said Penn.

“1.3 million people out of Gaza’s population of 2 million are in need of daily assistance – including food and shelter.”

What do you think about Kal Penn’s donation? Leave your comments below.

[Featured Image by Grant Lamos IV/ Getty Images]

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