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Love Overpowers Hate: What I Want My Kids to Know on September 11

Photo by Anthony Quintano / CC BY 2.0

9/11 is not over.

Sixteen years ago, America was launched into a tragedy we didn’t think possible. Our society was forever changed that day. Our children are still living with the fallout.

When Peace is Born Out of Chaos

The young women’s laughter echoes around the foyer of their Beaumont, Texas mosque as they unpack bag after bag of donated food for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

As they chit-chat, they diligently sort donations by type to make it easier for families to find what they need. Only occasionally do they stop to pass around a phone when one of them receives a text (or maybe it’s a snap? I’m too old to know) that needs to be discussed with the group.

Our Greatest Hope For You Is This...

We may have never said this, but there is something we want for you more than anything.

This thing is penultimate. It’s the reason we greet each day, why we live in Iraq, and why we do everything we do. It’s the reason we write, speak, share, story, email, and everything else—it’s our reason for being.

Can you guess what our greatest hope for you is?

Standing in the Gap For Unserved Families in Texas

The air is hot and heavy and the smell of mildew, mold, and wet drywall follows me as I walk through this unincorporated neighborhood near Houston, distributing emergency supplies. Every time I pass an enormous pile of someone’s ruined possessions on the side of the road, it gets stronger. When I step into Maria’s house, it’s all I can smell.

Texas Flooding: The Waters Are Receding, But Your Love Isn’t

The waters of Hurricane Harvey are finally receding in Southeast Texas, but the full extent of the need is becoming apparent. More than 100,000 homes were affected. Up to 500,000 cars were damaged beyond repair. Several small communities have been cut off by floodwaters for days.

But your love is on the ground. We’re rushing initial aid to vulnerable communities and building out a long-term response—in collaboration with churches, nonprofits, and other organizations all across the region—to help families get back in their homes and put their lives back together.

Texas Flooding Response Update: September 1

The floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey are finally starting to recede, but the damage left behind is overwhelming.

At the peak of the storm, 70% of Harris County was under water, including many areas well outside Houston. In some cases, entire communities were flooded, the devastation stretching across an area the size of New Jersey. Tens of thousands of Texans are currently displaced—stuck in overcrowded shelters, unable to go home.

Here are three things to know about our early response: 

Peacemaker Friday: Remaking the World for Kids Through Play

Kids are kids no matter where they live. They want to have fun, be silly, laugh and imagine. But, tragically, when violence strikes— whether in the form of bullets and bombs, or natural disasters—the joy of childhood is often one of its first victims.

The Real Reason We Could Say 'Yes' to Houston

If I give monthly, will my part of donation be used to help in Houston?

Several of our nearly 5,000 (!) monthly donors have been asking this lately, and a few more of you are probably wondering the same thing.

The short answer is yes.

Four Practical Ways You Can Help Families Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey has dropped 51.88 inches of rain—that’s 4 ¼ feet of rain—on Cedar Bayou, Texas, just east of the metro Houston area. In our shock, we say things like “unimaginable!” Except that we can imagine it perfectly well—we’ve all seen the stunning images of rivers where roads used to be. Over the last couple days, members of our response team have seen it with their own eyes.

To Houston: A Message of Love From Iraq

Preemptive love is not a one-way street. It is not from “us” to “them.” It is not from “here” to “there.” Because there is no “us” and “them.” There is no “here” or “there.”

We belong to each other.

Hurricane Harvey Hits Houston: We're Responding

 Families are evacuated from flooded neighborhoods in Houston caused by Hurricane Harvey. Photo via Texas National Guard. CC BY-ND 2.0.

Hurricane Harvey barrelled through Texas over the weekend and camped out over the Houston area, causing massive devastation. Tens of thousands are fleeing. Thousands more are trapped, their homes and cars underwater. The violence of this storm is unmaking lives, as sure as bullets and bombs do so in places like Iraq and Syria.

Peacemaker Friday: This Young Iraqi Refugee is Turning Pain into Peacemaking

Ahmed Badr, founder of Narratio. Image via Narratio.org.

Most tragedies never fully disappear. They share your breath, your blood, and walk around the ridges of your ribcage when they can’t fall asleep.

Ahmed Badr was 8 years old when a bomb crashed through a window of his family’s home in Baghdad. It was a dud missile, meant to cause destruction, but not explode. It shattered a piece of his home, but it also shattered his entire life—forcing his family to leave their home, family, jobs, and everything they’d ever known.

Help Dig A Well of Life-Giving Water in Mosul

Imagine your child saying ‘I’m thirsty,’ and having nothing to give them.

That’s the situation of many families in Mosul today. But it doesn’t have to be. You can provide a source of clean water for an entire neighborhood in as little as three days.

Overwhelmed by the Issues? Focus on People Before Problems

This story from PBS NewsHour is worth your time. Please take a few minutes to watch it starting at the 10-minute mark.

News coverage of the crisis in Iraq and Syria has been rare since the battle for Mosul officially ended. And when camera crews pack up and journalists move on to the next story, the world’s attention goes with them. It makes sense. Perception is reality, as they say, and it can seem like things must be ‘better’ in Iraq now that Mosul is free.

The Day Racism Broke In On Me...

Eight years ago, we adopted a beautiful baby boy from Ethiopia. People often ask to hear our adoption story. And I always wonder… do you want my son’s birth story? Or do you want our now-story?

Home Repairs and Hydroponics: Your Love in Syria

For over six years now, children and families have been caught in the crossfire of the deadly Syrian conflict. Some are fleeing violence and are on the move inside the country. Others are returning home to repair and rebuild. None are living the peaceful, stable life they long for.

You have not stopped hearing their stories and seeing their faces, even as the world has largely turned its attention away from Syria in recent months. You are meeting people’s needs for food, shelter, and medicine in a variety of ways.

Here are some highlights from your investment in Syria over the last month:

Peacemaker Friday: They Met Hate with Love in Charlottesville. Now It's Our Turn.

Religious leaders peacefully protest a group of white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017. Photo by Karla Cote / CC BY-ND 2.0

We need more peacemakers. And that doesn’t mean someone else… that means you. It means me. It means us.

We need you to show up at the frontlines to wage peace where others wage war. And we need you to do it now.

Racism: I’m Not Moving On

The author, Kym Young (center), is the founder of Superior African American Heritage Community in Superior, Wisconsin.

When I was 13, six other track and field teammates and I were walking back from the high school track field when we were stopped by a black van, full of older white teen boys who jumped out waving machetes and calling us “n*ggers” and “b*tches” and threatening to kill us. We were terrified. 

When I feel defensive, I’m not listening well.

One of the things that has surprised me most in the wake of Charlottesville is how difficult it is to listen well.

I’ve been trying to practice intentional listening for the last 10 years, and I fail at it. But what I know is this: whenever I feel defensive, I’m not listening well.

Now What? How to Love Your Friends of Color Well

Charlottesville solidarity vigil in Minnesota. Photo by Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

Inevitably news of the racist acts of terrorism will fade in the next couple days. People who had the Monday morning exchange with their co-workers, “Did you see what happened in Charlottesville?” will go back to business as usual. I’ve seen this happen one too many times as horror and tragedy is perpetrated in our country and in our world.

But this is not your only option. And I’m begging you to please do something different this time.

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