2016 was a year of many successes and challenges for our community. As the political dynamics in America are changing with the new administration under President-Elect Donald Trump’s leadership, our work must continue to grow in order to challenge bigotry and work towards a more welcoming and equitable society.
In the past 12 months, our work was vital to raise awareness about some of the most important issues that affect our communities. Here are some of our 2016 highlights:
- Our Refugees Welcome campaign kicked off in January with a Refugee Resource Fair organized in partnership with World Relief, a refugee resettlement agency in Garden Grove. More than a 100 refugees had the opportunity to receive critical information on resources available to them such as information on health care, FAFSA application assistance, resume writing workshop, and more. In addition, dozens of donated bikes were distributed to families in need of a mode of transportation.
- Our first annual ‘Arab American Heritage Gala’ took place this year at an event to celebrate the contributions of our community’s contribution to America. We honored our community pioneer Mr. Joseph Haiek, publisher of the Arab American Almanac, and the Oscar-nominated Jordanian film ‘Theeb’. The month ended with both Garden Grove and Anaheim proclaiming April as Arab American Heritage Month.
- We held a series of events to empower and support refugee families and encourage them to share their stories with the public, including our Iftar with Refugees held during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan where more than a hundred locals joined 5 families (three from Syria, one from Iraq, and one from Afghanistan) to break bread, connect, and share stories. Read this Los Angeles Times article and listen to this KPCC report about it.
- Our voter outreach effort resulted in hundreds of new registered voters in the Greater Los Angeles Area. We the national Yalla Vote campaign to make sure that every citizen uses her/his right to vote. We also partnered with dozens of local groups to host two Anaheim City Council candidate forums to educate the community and the candidates about the issues, make informed voting decisions, and hold those elected accountable!
- We stood in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as they struggled against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. From Palestine to the Pipeline was a partnership with Activate Labs and the Palestinian Youth Movement to send delegations to Standing Rock in order to connect, take action, offer support, and share similar stories of struggle against displacement and land theft. More than 60 donated Palestinian kuffiyehs (scarves) were gifted to tribal elders and water protectors on the front lines.