This month, MALA is excited to announce an all new collection of stories within the Muslim American Journeys project titled, Noble Stories of Resilience, which focuses on the stories of Afghan refugees who have recently resettled in the United States after fleeing the Taliban. These powerful written narratives share stories of unimaginable hardship, struggle, redemption, and resilience, shedding light on the unique experiences of Afghan refugees and their families.
This project began at the beginning of 2022, as the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan worstened and a new wave of refugees from the region arrived in the United States. At MALA, we felt it was crucial to use our storytelling platform to help share the stories of some of these individuals. Our hope is that these stories provide comfort and catharsis for the storytellers, and a source of understanding, empathy, and global awareness for those who read and engage with them. Muslim American Journeys has always existed as a platform which seeks to build bridges of understanding, education, and compassion, and we are honored to continue to represent these values through Noble Stories of Resilience.
The new collection will launch during the third week of June 2022, coinciding with the UN's World Refugee Day. Until then, all gifts received through the Muslim American Journeys campaign will go towards funding the expansion of this collection, as we work to produce and promote these important stories. We thank you graciously for your continued support, and for your allyship as we continue to build a more compassionate, more understanding world together.
It's a new year, and MALA is kicking off 2022 by making history! In the days before the new year, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a proclamation at the bequest of MALA declaring January Muslim American Heritage Month in the state of Illinois. This proclamation recognizes the centuries-long contributions that Muslims have made to American arts, industry, and society.
For years, the Muslim American Journeys project has been a conduit for sharing these contributions and histories through personal narratives and we are honored to have these stories honored at such a high level in Illinois, where MALA was born.
We are also excited to announce that MALA is one of only eight Chicago organizations to receive the Broadening Narratives grant from the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelly Foundation in support of the Muslim American Journeys project. These funds will be used to gether a collection of oral histories that spotlight Chicago's Black Muslim communities, and share unique perspectives on race, faith, and family.
As we embark on this new year, and on this new chapter of our journey, your support means more than ever. MALA's mission and impact are expanding rapidly, and the support of our community is critical in this expansion. When you support the Muslim American Journeys project you help MALA amplify awareness about Muslim American histories and perspectives, and enact real, tangible change. Thank you for your continued support and allyship.
As we move into the Fall season, and concerns about the COVID-19 Delta Variant persist, MALA is committed to finding new ways to collect, curate, and share oral histories in the socially-distanced virtual space. Oral history work requires an immense ammount of trust, and an ability to build spaces that are safe and comfortable for individuals to share their stories, and MALA remains committed to sustaining such spaces. As such, MALA is moving forward by hosting storytelling sessions via video conferences, which are then recorded, edited, and published accross a number of platforms to ensure that stories are being told and heard during these challenging times.
This new approach to digital estorytelling is not without its challenges and complexities: digital storytelling requires new infrastructure, new processes, and new approaches to outreach and publishing. MALA's staff and leadership are working hard to confront these challenges and to ensure that our storytellers feel represented, respected, and heard accross these new mediums and realities. When you support the Muslim American Journeys project, you directly fuel these efforts: you empower MALA to empower whole communities through storytelling. Your contribution helps MALA to finance the new and necessary storytelling infrastructure, to build the administrative capacity necessary to process and publish stories, and to provide necessary support and resources to the individuals and communities brave enough to share their stories in this moment.
The Muslim American Journeys project has always represented a unique avenue of representation for Muslim Americans and adjascent communities, and MALA is proud to continue to innovate and expand this platform. Your gift today helps to build representation, and to ensure all voices are heard in the American cultural narrative.
Thank you for your continued support and compassion!
Good news! So far this year, MALA has received generous institutional funding for new story production campaigns during the summer and fall of 2021. As we continue tyo be recognized as an authority in. the storytelling and cultural exchange space, MALA is proud and honored to receive the opportunity to undertake new projects and expand our platform to spotlight an even broader spectrum of individuals and communities.
This summer we are excited to be working on two new collections: one collection which will focus on the stories of Black Muslims in the Chicagoland area, and another that will focus on stories from Muslims of AAPI heritage. We are honored and thrilled to be able to share the stories of these communities, and our work is cut out for us. When you contribute to thwe Muslim American Journeys project this summer, you are helping us to not only produce these stories, but to activate them through community engagement, open dialogue, and cultural exchange. Your support helps to actively build communities, break stereotypes, and foster important cultural connections accross the country.
MALA is off to a running-start in 2021, and poised to collect more stories than ever. Thanks to the generous funding of our partners and supporters, we have been able to set ambitious goals for the Muslim American Journeys project this year, both increasing the volume of stories we collect, and expanding the diversity of the project as a whole.
In 2021, MALA is placing a special focus on recording and curating oral histories from Muslim Americans belonging to Black and LGBTQIA+ communities. These individuals and the communities they belong to have long been marginalized and subject to discrimination in the United States--we feel it is our responsibility, as an inclusive and compassionate platform, to share the stories of these communities in hopes that we may help to build stronger compassion, resiliency, and understanding around the experiences and obstacles facing them.
This new focus represents MALA's continued resolve to innovate in the field of oral history and storytelling. We remain resolute in finding new ways to share and engage with the struggles, triumphs, and nuances of American identity and the countless cultures, stories, and perspectives that contribute to our social fabric.
When you support MALA, you support our efforts to share these perspectives--you contribute directly to the representation and agency of marginalized communities across the country. We are so grateful for your support and insight as we continue this journey together!
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