Martin Luther King, Jr. Event
On Martin Luther King, Jr. day (January 21, 2019) Karadah Project joined with members of faith, veteran, humanitarian, refugee, and education communities to sponsor an evening of friendship, fellowship, food, and learning.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. often spoke of the end goal of his activism as the “beloved community,” a love and understanding among all people that “will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age.”
It was in that spirit that more than three hundred people from all walks of life came together last Monday in Omaha to break bread with one another and to serve their community in the name of Dr. King.
“There is no better way of combating fear and hatred and misunderstanding than to actually meet your neighbors,” said Lacey Studnicka, executive director of Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, which supports refugees in the state. “I wanted to meet my neighbors and be in fellowship and celebration with them.”
Community members enjoyed food catered by a local Afghan restaurant, heard from a diverse interfaith panel, and tied together blankets that will be donated to refugee families through Lutheran Family Services. Attendees also viewed #WhatIFoughtFor, VFAI’s portrait project that highlights the stories of veterans and the refugees in their lives. A number of kid-friendly activities rounded out the evening, including face painting and writing welcome letters to refugees.
The event was made possible through a grant from Islamic Relief USA and coordinated by the VFAI Iowa-Nebraska team in collaboration with more than half a dozen partners from the faith and education communities—Beth El Synagogue, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-Omaha Stake, University of Nebraska-Omaha, Tri-Faith Initiative, the Goldstein Center for Human Rights, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, and Karadah Project International.
“One Jewish member of our planning committee remarked that it was crazy that they had never done much with the church that sat next door,” said Army veteran Rick Burns, co-leader of VFAI Nebraska-Iowa. “We are never stronger than when we are united in a common effort to make the world a better place.”
Another VFAI member, Air Force veteran Megan Carr, agreed. “This sort of community gathering is valuable in order to show that even though it feels as though we can be divided here in Omaha, we can stand together as a united front in a show of solidarity from all backgrounds, religions, and ethnicity. It’s a great reminder that we are all neighbors and should be treated as such.”
(Originally published in Veterans for American Ideals blog.
Stuffed animals for displaced kids
Students from Abraham Lincoln High School (Council Bluffs, Iowa) and Hatefi Girls High School (Herat, Afghanistan) are joining together to collect and deliver stuffed animals, toys, and other needed humanitarian supplies to Afghan kids whose lives have been upended by violence and who now live in internally displaced persons camps.
With the help of the Afghan women-founded Women Education for Better Tomorrow Organization, Council Bluffs Sister Cities Association, and Karadah Project, Abraham Lincoln High School students are collecting all kinds of things for Afghan children. Imagine what any child might want and it is probably needed, but please avoid anything religious. If you have a questions about an item, ask us and we’ll make sure it is appropriate.
We prefer new, but we can also accept gently used items.
These classes have empowered me.
After attending these classes and spending time with the other women and teachers, I noticed psychological improvement. I can share my problems with the other women and get some help from them…These classes help me to feel strong by being able to work. These classes have empowered me.”
The Hidden Internally Displaced
Refugees represent nearly a third (30%) of the world’s displaced population – people forced to leave their homes due to persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations.
The much larger number of internally displaced people – those displaced within their home country – reached about 40 million in 2017 (over 1.8 million Afghans), bringing the world’s total displaced population to 68.5 million in 2017. (Pew Research Center)
Through our partnerships with local Afghan nonprofits, we are working with displaced and poor women in rural villages to stem the tide of refugees flooding into other countries. Through our vocational skills training, livestock projects, and other initiatives, we are helping women pull themselves and their families out of poverty.
If their husbands are jobless, these women can support their families. Step by step the society can improve. I am an example of an Afghan woman who works. I am a widow and I have seven children. If I don’t work, who will support my family? My children go to school now because of my income.
Entrepreneurs turn hens into turkeys
Smart and saavy Afghan women living in rural Shindand Province are stepping up their game. They are using profits from hens given to them by Karadah Project and our Afghan partner Shindand Women Social Foundation to purchase turkeys. These entrepreneurs now have higher income-generating products to sell and have increased their nutrition choices. Sustainable solutions.