As a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, MALA launched “Muslim American Heritage” as an effort to promote diversity, inclusion, and address various topics that are impacting our community. The Muslim American Heritage Celebration was created to help promote public appreciation of “Muslim-Americana” – the diverse contributions Muslims have made to our nation’s culture and progress.
The program provides resources for schools, civic groups, congregations, and even individual families to celebrate the accomplishments of Americans of Muslim heritage and the fundamental freedoms that have enabled us to thrive. Muslim American Heritage is an observance to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals through (1) arts and music festivals, (2) salon-type events addressing human rights, (3) various awards and scholarship contests for Muslim American youth (4) screenings of films by and/or featuring Muslim Americans, and (5) creating a digital library of Muslim American heritage stories.
We welcome you to join us in establishing a national observance in January to honor the anniversary of the death of Yarrow Mamout, an African American Muslim former slave featured the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Captured in a West African slave raid, Mamout overcame great adversity, ultimately purchasing his own freedom and became a famous Washington financier. (The Philadelphia Art Museum has a portrait of Mamout by Charles Peale, who painted George Washington and Ben Franklin.) The national observance spotlights Muslims embracing freedom to pursue the American Dream and celebrates Muslim contributions to American society.
New chapters in the story of Muslim American heritage are being written in history today. “Muslim American Journeys” is thrilled to share the stories of Farhiya, Lalla, and Bita! These inspiring stories not only spotlight challenges and triumphs, but remind us of the very human connection we have in our unique, individual journeys.
Farhiya I:A Somali Muslim American who finds her passion in helping others as those who helped her and family when they came to the states, Farhiya shares her journey in finding her identity between two cultures and her new career as a social worker.
Lalla D:Lalla shares what it was like to be raised by her grandparents in Mauritania and how that helped her face the challenges that came when she moved to Chicago.
Bita L:Bita always dreamt of being an attorney. Here, she shares her journey of leaving Iran to come to the U.S to follow her dreams and of all the trials and tribulations she had to overcome along the way.
From all of us at MALA, Happy New Year! We hope 2023 brings you luck, light, and new adventures.
This year, we are kicking off the new year by giving our stories a new home. MALA's new website features a revamped collection of Muslim American Journeys which now allows users to search our catalogue of nearly 600 stories using thematic and identity-based key words. Our ambition has always been to make Muslim American stories as accessible as possible, and to create opportunities for people to learn from and relate to these unique narratives. We hope that this new platform will increase the possibility of these connections and broaden the spotlight on the Muslim American Journeys project.
In 2023, MALA is also seeking strategic expansion of the Muslim American Journeys project at large through the development of new outreach strategies, and new means of capturing stories. Our intention is to begin building a collection of video stories for the Journeys project, which will help further the goals of representation and engagement upon which the program was built. By producing stories in video format, MALA will increase access to these narratives and allow them to be shared on a broader range of media.
Muslim American Journeys has always adapted and evolved and find new avenues of representation for MALA's community. Your gift to the Muslim American Journeys project facilitates that evolution by helping MALA fund new equipment for filming and producing stories, and by supporting specialized staff to ensure that our stories continue to be archived, shared, and represented in the public square.
Thank you for your continued support, we look forward to growing together and sharing new stories in 2023!
As we enter the fall season, we at MALA are lookin g back on a challenging year. Like many organizations, MALA has continued to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as we attempt to navigate a world in which human connection is increasingly being facilitated in the virtual space. However, as society begins to open up again, we are excited to be collecting oral histories in person once again.
This fall, MALA is re-engaging with our New York constituency and working to collect new and exciting stories from Muslim American communities in the region. In support of this effort, we are also overhauling some of the tools of our trade: in order to record and produce these stories, MALA will need to update our recording devices to ensure that we are using equipment that is reliable, accurate, and efficient.
In addition to audio recordings, MALA is working to develop a space to record oral histories using video footage of storytellers. This approach will allow those who engage with MALA's oral histories to experience a closer connection with storytellers and will allow stories to be shared across a broader range of media.
MALA has always been dedicated not only to collecting oral histories, but to ensuring that those stories are shared widely, ensuring that they live on as a resource for learning, cultural connection, and community building. By supporting Muslim American Journeys, you help to make these stories more accessible than ever before, and ensure that Muslim narratives remain a part of the American story for years to come.
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.
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