Interweaving Journeys: Embracing Identity and Empowering Communities with Anera

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Today I want to take you on a journey with me, a journey that led me to rediscover my roots and connect with a remarkable organization: Anera. This story is about family, homeland, and the power of community.

It all began with a conversation, as many meaningful journeys do. Zeina Azzam, a dear friend and board member of Anera, sparked a conversation that would set my journey in motion. We talked about my experiences and connections, and before I knew it, I found myself immersed in the world of Anera. They invited me to join their board, and I was more than willing to lend my support to this incredible cause.

Anera is an organization dedicated to empowering Palestinian youth and women in marginalized communities. Their work encompasses education, job training, entrepreneurship, and community development. Anera’s commitment to providing opportunities and hope has resonated deeply with me. But it wasn’t just their mission that drew me in. It was also a personal connection that I was about to explore.

A preschooler at one of the Anera schools I visited in the West Bank.

Palestine is in my DNA

Growing up, I had always heard stories about my family’s journey, from Palestine to various corners of the world. My father was forcibly expelled from Palestine and we always longed for the idea of a homeland. These stories became an integral part of my identity, shaping the way I viewed the world.

My family moved from Saudi Arabia to the US and then to Halifax, Canada – a place that seemed worlds apart from my Middle Eastern roots. I was struck by the stark contrast between the two landscapes—the arid deserts of Saudi Arabia and the lush beauty of Canada. It was then that I realized the immense courage it took for my family to navigate such transitions.

My connection to Palestine wasn’t just through stories. It was deeply ingrained in my DNA. My father’s journey from Acca, Palestine to Saudi Arabia was a testament to the resilience of my family and countless other refugees. Their displacement, determination, and ultimate success in building new lives are stories that need to be shared and celebrated.

Returning to my Family’s Homeland

And so, my journey took a new turn. I returned to Palestine, to Acca, to witness firsthand the place my father had once called home. I walked the streets, met with people, and immersed myself in the culture. But the most poignant moment was when my father stood in front of the land where his family’s house once stood. It was a moment of introspection and realization—a powerful reminder of what had been lost, but also a testament to the enduring spirit of Palestinians.

While I was in the West Bank, I had the privilege of witnessing similar stories of resilience when visiting Anera’s projects. I met Palestinian women determined to create businesses, young people eager to learn and excel, and communities working together for a brighter future. Anera’s programs empower individuals to take charge of their lives, and I am so glad to be a part of this journey of growth and transformation.

My father at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
My father and I

Join me at Anera’s Gala on October 13

As I prepare to attend Anera’s gala as a co-host along with my husband, I’m reminded of the importance of supporting organizations like this. The gala is a celebration of the collective effort to uplift Palestinian youth and women, providing them with opportunities that can shape their futures. It’s a chance for individuals, communities, and organizations to come together and make a difference.

So, dear readers, I urge you to join me in supporting Anera’s 2023 Gala. By doing so, you’re contributing to a legacy of empowerment and hope. Just as my family’s journey is woven into the fabric of my identity, supporting Anera’s work is a testament to our collective commitment to creating a better world for all.

Let’s celebrate the stories of strength, hope, and transformation that Anera brings to light. Together, we can ensure that these stories continue to be written, inspiring generations to come.



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