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.


#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.


Arabic English Handy Review Book {Tutorial} Plus {Review}


We made these hand(y) review books for Hands Around the Library by Karen Leggett Abouraya with beautiful collage illustrations by Susan L. Roth, as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day.

The story is about former children librarian Shaimaa Saad and library director, Ismail Serageldin, in February 2011, during the Egyptian upraising.

They both worked at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a major library and cultural center located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in Alexandria, Egypt. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is trilingual, containing books in Classical Arabic, English, and French.

At the time, people were very unhappy with the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. They held rallies, demonstrations and parades to voice their concerns.

The library staff was worried, since the library has been destroyed before. But on this day, people from within the parade broke out of the demonstrations and linked hands on the steps to protect the building.

The pages are stunning, showcasing different aspects of Egyptian style, including colorful quilts, hijbas and the clothing of the Muslims & Christians who held hands.

The back of the book contains a double-page photo spread with more information of the uprising and the library itself. There is a resource page, which I loved, since it included the Arabic words shown on the protest signs.

My favorite page was hands holding the Egyptian flag that was opened on the library steps.

This gave my daughter and I the inspiration to make these handy review books, to write down what we think about a book.

Supplies

  • Various colored card stock
  • Corner punch
  • Glue stick
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Stapler

My daughter started to make the review book by drawing an outline of her hand

She added a rectangular tab, for the staples later.

Next, my daughter cut out the hand. She used this hand to cut out as a template to make several others from different colors.

After all the hands were cut, she cut out all the tags for inside the review book. I typed them both up for her, in Arabic and English:

  • TITLE OF BOOK / عنوان الكتاب
  • THEME / موضوع الكتاب
  • AUTHOR / مؤلف
  • SETTING / إعداد
  • FAVORITE EVENT / حدث المفضل
  • RATING / تقييم

She made all the corners round on the slips of paper to make it look nicer.

To add them to the hands, my daughter added glue to the back of the pieces of paper and centered them on the hands.

The final step is to staple all the hands to each other.

We made a review book in English.

We also made a review book in Arabic. We made sure to start the book in the opposite direction and added our staples accordingly.

If you want to save some time, you can make the English and Arabic into one review book. Just start the English from one side and the Arabic from the other.

If you enjoyed making this handy craft, check out these others:

Be sure to stop by A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see more tutorials that teach about the Arab world.