Refugee Popup Bookstore {Outing}

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.

Please help SCM Souk grow by liking the Facebook page. It will help you keep track of where we will be next month.


24 #BlackHistoryMonth Black and Muslim Children’s Books {Resource}

This list of 24 children’s books was created to celebrate Black Muslim authors and protagonists for February’s Black History Month.

The Pew Research Center estimates the total populations of Muslims in the United States at 2.35 million, with Black/African-American Muslims making up 20% of that population. Some have ancestral ties as turn of the century slaves stolen from West/Central Africa, or others have converted in the recent centuries.

In American history, Malcolm X is considered the first person to start the movement among African Americans towards mainstream Islam, after he made the pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

I’ve already compiled a list of Malcolm X books, so I thought I’d gather a list of other books written about and/or by Black Muslims in America, for children.

This blog post is part of the fifth annual Black History Month Blog Hop from Multicultural Kids Blog. This event brings together various blogs from around the world to explore the rich history and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora.

Please visit the other blogs at the bottom of this post for more educational posts about this important month in our calendar.

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Nanni’s Hijab by Khadijah Abdul-Haqq

Adam To Zamzam And Fun In The Sun by Jamila Alqarnain & Karimah Alhark

Fun in the Sun by Jamila Alqarnain & Karimah Alhark            

Hind’s Hands: A Story about Autism by Jamila Alqarnain & Karimah Alhark    

Princess And The Good Deed, The by Jamila Alqarnain & Karimah Alhark      

Rasheed’s Deeds by Jamila Alqarnain & Karimah Alhark            

Yak in the Back by Jamila Alqarnain & Karimah Alhark           

Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin

Hannah Habibi Learns About Modesty by Janette Grant

Sameerah’s Hijab: and the first day of school by Janette Grant

Beauty Of My Hijab by Fatimah Ashaela Moore Ibrahim

Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family, The by Ibtihaj Muhammad

Bashirah and The Amazing Bean Pie Ameenah Muhammad-Diggins

Ngozi’s Little Brown Princess Tea Party by Asiyah Muhsin-Thomas

Sadiq and the Desert Star by Nuurali. Siman          

Little Brother for Sale by Rahma Rodaah    

Muhiima’s Quest by Rahma Rodaah,         

Wahid and His Special Friend by Robyn Saleem-Abdusamad   

You Are Beautiful by Robyn Saleem-Abdusamad 

Zaynab’s Enchanted Scarf      Robyn Saleem-Abdusamad  

Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz        

Malcolm Little by Ilyasah Shabazz        

Silly Monkey by Rhoda Sye

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow        

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Black History Month on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our fifth annual Black History Month Blog Hop, where together we explore the rich history and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora.

You can also follow our Black History board on Pinterest:

Participating Blogs

Creative World of Varya on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Black History Month – How It Matters to Us

A Crafty Arab: 24 Black and Muslim Children’s Books

Growing Up Gupta: 10 Interesting Facts About Shirley Chisholm

Great Family Reads: Books About Black Leaders in History for Kids

Mama Smiles: Black History Month Facts and Printable Timeline

Mommy Evolution: African American Toddler Books

Crafty Moms Share: Black Inventors

#IqraChat The Map of Salt and Stars {Resource}

Reading Arab American literature is an important part of my life, as it helps expand my knowledge of my culture and history.

I recently read the book The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn (Jennifer Zeynab) Joukhadar to help me better understand the Syrian refugee experience.

This book moved me in ways that no book has done in a long time.

  • First, the journey involves not one but two young female protagonist, fighting odds well beyond their years.
  • Second, the chapters, for each country entered, include poems by the author that are beautiful and could stand on their own in a chapbook. I found myself reading them over and over again, often out loud.
  • Third, the assault scene was difficult to read, but I don’t believe our society discusses it in the open enough. Reading it brought back painful memories but opened up dialogue that was long overdue with my own teens.

I contacted the author and asked him if I could do a Twitter and Facebook chat online to discuss the book with others. A sort of book club, but not just in my living room or at a local restaurant, but one that anyone that wants to can join in.

Between now and February 26th, read or listen to the book, then join us on ACraftyArab Facebook or ACraftyArab Twitter where you’ll answer the following questions in time sessions (subject to adjustment):

  1. 8PM: What does the title The Map of Salt and Stars mean to you?
  2. 8:10PM: How do the two different timelines influence the plot?
  3. 8:20PM: Did having Nour as the narrator change the way you viewed the events of the novel?
  4. 8:30PM: How do the characters rely on their religion throughout the novel?
  5. 8:40PM: How is The Map of Salt and Stars like or different than other novels you have read about refugees?
  6. 8:50PM: What is the significance of the stone and why was it discarded by Nour?

To help find each other on Twitter and Facebook, we’ll all be using the hashtag #IqraChat and ##MapofSaltandStars. (Iqra is the Arabic word for Read.)

Please be sure to join us on February 26th at 8pm EST to talk about this riveting book.