Donations, Medical Missions, Awareness
The UNHCR estimates that since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011 over 5.6 million refugees have fled the country for neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and beyond. Many millions remain internally displaced or live in conflict ridden areas. Founded in February 1996, the Salaam Cultural Museum (SCM) is a non-profit that disseminates information on the peoples, cultures, languages, and religions of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Today, SCM devotes most of their time and resources to aiding displaced Syrians that have fled violence in Syria to neighboring countries. By facilitating donations of a wide variety of needed items, from clothing to food stuffs to medical supplies, SCM serves as a lifeline for displaced families. Furthermore, by partnering with other NGOs, governments, and multinational agencies, SCM routinely sends volunteers and trained medical professionals on medical missions to Greece and Jordan.
This year, SCM is coordinating the first annual No Man's Land 5K event in the Green Lake neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. The aim of the event is threefold - to raise funds to go toward the purchase of vital supplies for Syrian refugees, to fund medical missions in Greece and Jordan, and to raise awareness about the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis. This issue was most politically salient back in 2015, when a picture of a young boy, washed up on a Turkish beach, shocked the world. Since then, little has changed in Syria - in many cases it has gotten worse - while the challenges faced by refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) have largely faded from the public consciousness and only incite infrequent media mention.
Whether in a refugee camp outside of Amman, a tent near a European border crossing, or public housing in Europe or North America, refugees often occupy tenuous legal ground and a narrow pathway out of this state of limbo. We chose to name the event "No Man's Land" because it typifies the arduous journey undertaken by migrant families fleeing violence to seek a better life, wherein refugees find themselves caught between the turmoil in their home nations, and political barriers in the lands where they seek asylum.
While solving the root causes of this issue may be out of our hands, there are many steps that each of us can take to alleviate the suffering of refugees. At the event we will be accepting donations of clothing, non-perishable foodstuffs, as well as medical and school supplies. One of the reasons we chose to host a 5K is due to the dire need for footwear in refugee communities, particularly for young children. We hope that all participants, as well as those who choose to spectate, will donate a pair of shoes that have sat in your closet untouched for a bit too long. We hope that you will join us on October 20th, rain or shine, to run for refugees.
The Salaam Cultural Museum