By Maria Douich
By Maria Douich
Connecticut – The Karam Foundation was founded in 2007. Its name was created with its mission in mind. Karam is Arabic for generosity. Unlike any other humanitarian aid organization, Karam dedicates all its resources to helping people help themselves. Based in Chicago, USA, the organization prides itself on its unique approach to helping the refugee crises of today, especially that of Syrian refugees.
The passionate team of individuals at Karam believes human dignity can only be restored by creating a meaning to life. Being a refugee predominantly consists of sitting around, mourning losses, and worrying about feeding family members and staying alive. The displaced are stripped of hope and any desire to rebuild, feeling that when the world ignores your cries, the purpose to fight dissipates. Karam is on a mission to turn this around, their efforts in refugee camps and inside conflict zones are unprecedented and have generated inspiring results and hopeful smiles that ignite the desire to do even more.
Food, shelter, and education are the pillars of all missions spearheaded by the team. Karam prides itself on its strategy of “healing first, then educating” ? an effective means to providing aid. This decreases the constant dependency on additional aid and instills the idea that rebuilding is possible and that autonomy fixes a broken heart, body, and mind.
The foundation has implemented an identity of entrepreneurship to the traditionally negative image all refugee camps have acquired. Women are able to make soaps from natural materials native to their land and present them in handmade crochet packaging. These women are widows, whose family members are injured, dead, or kidnapped. However, they now have the opportunity to rebuild, care for their loved ones, and restore their dignity as human beings.
Moreover, Karam has established innovative education programs for the youth, holding workshops to help young people stay in touch with technology, along with team-building and exam preparations for university entrance exams. Additionally, to ensure refugees have a self-sustainable source of healthy nutrition, the foundation sponsors an urban farm in Aleppo. The farm serves as an important and consistent source of protein for the families, ensuring babies have a regular supply of milk, eggs, and meat.
This rare and unique approach to the biggest refugee crisis in decades has gained a great deal of praise and support. The CEO and Co-Founder, Lina Sergie Attar, believes in a holistic solution to the conflict. Her efforts and work have been published in reputable news outlets and publications alike. Her passion reflects in the foundation’s missions and the team she leads.
In an interview with NBC News, Lina shares the heartwarming moments and difficulties of being involved in the aid of refugees: “I try and hide the tears from them, but it is very difficult,” she said. “We try to tell them ‘Stay positive. Being a Syrian refugee is not going to limit your possibilities in the world.’ But in our hearts we know the truth, and we know the conflict we’re in the middle of. When you leave, you can’t help but remember where you’re leaving, and we’re going back to our lives in America. It’s hard to keep a smile when we’re saying goodbye. Inside, our hearts are breaking.”
For more information on how to help, raise awareness, or read more about the Karam Foundation’s education programs for refugees, visit their website at www.karamfoundation.org.