As part of (DIS)PLACED project and our continued efforts to foster community and provide necessary cultural and material resources to recent Syrian and Iraqi refugees to Philadelphia, Al-Bustan partnered with a coalition of socially-oriented organizations to host a series of Meet & Greet events. With the help of co-sponsors Nationalities Service Center, University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Arab Student Society and Greenfield Intercultural Center, Germantown Friends School’s Human Rights Club, American Friends Service Center, Friends Center, and many dedicated volunteers, we collected and distributed donated goods, hosted arts and music activities, and welcomed the families to the city for a second Meet-and-Greet on Sunday December 18 at the Friends Center in Center City .
The event was attended by 60 Syrian and Iraqi refugees, with 20 Al-Bustan staff, teaching-artists, and volunteers. Lunch was provided by Monanoor Corporation, Renata’s Kitchen, Aya’s Café and Restaurant, and Saad’s Halal Restaurant, with dessert provided by the Germantown Friends School’s Human Rights Club. Families then chose between participating in a group discussion led by family therapist Rabab Alma, a Wendy Ewald inspired photography activity led by photographer Dave Tavani, and art activity led by art therapy student Alaa Alhaji and a group of volunteers. The meet-and-greet culminated with a performance by members of Al-Bustan Takht — cellist Kinan Abou-afach and percussionist Hafez Kotain — with attendees dancing and singing along to popular folk songs. For the kids who couldn’t wait to get their hands on the tableh all afternoon, they enjoyed a rousing percussion workshop with Hafez Kotain.November event, every family who attended left with donated goods. Because we received such a generous amount of donated warm outerwear, blanket, bedding, and staple foods such as cooking and olive oil, pasta, and lentils, refugees were able to “shop” for goods, leaving with whatever they wanted from a wide range of options. This was made possible due to a well-supported donated goods drive hosted by the sponsors and Pan-Asian American Community House. We hope we made a small difference for the families in their adjustment to a new country, language, and home.
Stay up-to-date on the numerous (DIS)PLACED events upcoming in 2017 by following the project website and #displacedPHL.