This weekend, I am opening a refugee pop-up bookstore, SCM Souk, to help a local Seattle nonprofit humanitarian organization acquire more income to run its programs.
Souk /سوق is the Arabic word for store, originally started as an idea to provide the Salaam Cultural Museum with a way to support refugees.
Salaam Cultural Museum (SCM) is a charitable non-profit organization originally formed in February 1996 to gather and publish information on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and to promote understanding of the people, cultures, languages, religions, and lands of this region. For the last several years they have been collecting and distributing humanitarian aid and coordinating SCM Medical Missions to the region.
SCM Medical Missions not only sends doctors, nurses and humanitarian relief to the Zaatari Refugee Camp, the second largest in the world, but it also sends medical equipment, clothing, menstrual pads, shoes, quilts, school supplies and sports equipment. All these are proved free of charge to refugees.
I got involved with SCM Medical Missions when I found out that 100% of all the money donated goes to these programs. They have zero overhead, zero staff salaries, zero administration fees. Everything is volunteer and their accounting books are open for anyone to look over. They have grant writers to help find funds to cover operating costs and donors that cover the fees for the containers SCM fills with donated items.
A few months ago, one of the SCM board members offered space in Bellevue, Washington, across the street from Bellevue Park, to sell a few items, such as books and jewelry made by the refugee women in the SCM run educational and sewing training centers.
I offered to help get the souk started, since I had already helped set up a similar retail space for them in Seattle. For the past month, my family and I have been painting, building, and cleaning a 200 foot room to turn it into a second souk for SCM.
My daughters have given up their past weekends to helping paint. All the paint was donated.
Meanwhile, my husband built a custom cover for the pipes that were exposed. All the wood, nails and drywall were also donated.
We will be selling the beautiful handmade jewelry, along with traditional embroidered dresses and children’s literature that focus on refugees, diversity and marginalized people. I have been contacting publishers & authors to fill the shelves with diverse books. I decorated the souk’s front doors with the types of books I was searching for, while the mess was going on inside..
We will have the space for five weeks, but plan to take full advantage of it by celebrating Women’s History Month with activities each Saturday.
We will begin with a story time reading of a book, then followed by a free craft to take home.
- March 9 – Build with Zaha
- Reading The World Is Not a Rectangle & Craft
- March 16 – Paint with Georgia
- Reading Through Georgia’s Eyes & Craft
- March 23 – Fly with Amelia
- Reading Amelia And Eleanor Go For A Ride and Craft
- March 30 – Explore with Katharine
- Reading Counting on Katherine & Craft
Please help SCM Souk grow by liking the Facebook page. It will help you keep track of where we will be next month.