2018 has begun, and pundits and opinion makers are predicting that 2018 will be the “Year of the Woman”. That of course, is yet to be seen. And we have heard this prediction before. Yet it is hard to deny that women have made enormous progress in the past few years.
More than any other US holiday, Thanksgiving celebrates our history as a nation of immigrants. And for those who have recently arrived to the States, it’s an occasion to remember their journey from one land to another. Miry’s List is an LA-based organization that welcomes families making such journeys. Founder Miry Whitehill and Rabia Ahmadi share on the scope of the organization’s impact.
What becomes of a refugee when they’re no longer a refugee? We spend so much time talking about migration caps and vetting that we seem to ignore all the Americans living amongst us, trying to acclimate to their new country after the harrowing journey from their former homeland. Would it surprise you to learn that they start their new life in substantial debt? Or that they don’t have many of the basic items they need to live, let alone feel like a human being? Wouldn’t you like to know how you can help?
“I have absolutely no background in this. I’ve never worked in politics or the nonprofit sector. I spent ten years in digital marketing before leaving to raise my two kids. But Miry’s Listdidn’t come from a place of wanting to change the system of refugee resettlement. It came from me, as a mom, seeing a baby without a crib mattress and wanting to help.”
How does a Syrian refugee start their life over in the U.S.? Try hosting a dinner for an entire neighborhood. That's exactly what the New Arrival Supper Club is all about. Every month, a new refugee family will cook food for an entire neighborhood. The club will sell tickets to the event, and 90% of the proceeds will go to the family that cooked.
When Babak Esmaeily and his 11-year-old son Behniya arrived in Turlock, CA in January 2017, they were seeking a fresh start. But this wasn’t just any move. As refugees from Iran, where Babak and his family were persecuted for promoting secular education, the father and son have had to create a whole new life—in a whole new language. Nothing about being a refugee is normal, but with their new routine slowly taking shape, Babak and Behniya are learning together how to be a family, and how to move forward.
When Miry Whitehill-Ben Atar visited a Syrian family newly arrived to Los Angeles about a year ago, with a friend who knew them through church, the 31-year-old mother of two noticed that the refugee family shared much in common with hers: The Syrian woman was her age with a baby her son’s age. But she also noticed a striking difference in their home — the apartment was almost empty.
Maybe it was the fact that the baby was the same age as one of her own sons. Maybe it was the familiar look of exhaustion on the mother's face. Whatever it was, Miry Whitehill felt an immediate connection to this family she'd never met, even though she couldn't speak to them in their native language, Arabic.
While preparing the New Arrival Supper Club’s first meal, 36-year-old Najwa didn’t sleep for two nights. Instead she and her husband disappeared into their apartment kitchen after putting their three kids to bed, whipping hummus and hand forming enough football-shaped kibbe to feed 42 strangers. The effort was worth it. The money raised from the $75-per-person event was used to purchase necessities for the family, refugees who had arrived in L.A. from the Syrian city of Homs six months ago.
If the events of this particularly bleak week have left you wondering how you can help, you’re not alone. This is why we find it incredibly important to bring attention to Miry’s List, an organization that’s doing life-changing work to help Syrian refugees. Read more >