• NuDay

Updated: Nov 17, 2019

by Huda Alawa

Young Artists Creating and At Play

One of the most overlooked aspects in any crisis situation is maybe something a bit abstract, albeit visual: art. In the case of Syria, art is an expression – an attempt, an action.

A way to make a difference, whether that be for one's country, oneself, or a global humanity.

Art reminds of subversive protest: a declaration of hope amidst the abyss of despair we are surrounded with.

Let's take a moment to consider the start of the Syrian revolution.

Eight years ago, a few boys in Syria graffitied on a school wall: Your turn has come, Doctor.

It might seem innocuous, but the art had a clear message – the Syrian people were ready to fight for their freedom. It was this art that brought NuDay to fruition. Inspired by the power of the Syrian people, NuDay Syria wanted to reflect their empowerment through ensuring that they were heard and supported, even across the world.

Art has long been a form of expression, and for those protesting an oppressive regime, this remains true.

But at the same time, art can be a way of making sense of the world around us.

Two years ago, I travelled to Turkey and met with many displaced Syrian mothers and children. I was invited into their homes to share a cup of tea – which they offered despite not having much else – and to hear about their lives. Along the way, I was accompanied by an elderly Syrian woman who assisted me with the translation when my Arabic reached its limits. Halfway through the trip, she and I took a much-needed physical and emotional break. Taking the opportunity, I asked her more about herself and she told me that she wanted to show me something she had made. She pulled out her smartphone and sent me a series of five images she had drawn: images of fluorescent stick figures standing out against a deep black background. The scenes were graphic, reflecting her time in the regime’s prison for her democratic advocacy.

I still have those photos saved. As much as they hurt to look at, they remind me of the strength of Syria, the women and children who relentlessly speak up for good.

For her, art is therapeutic. It legitimized her experiences and moved the trauma outside of her mind.

Art can be healing.

There is nothing more satisfying than receiving art from Syria's children, to see how this art reflects their life as they evolve. These children have fought so hard to exist, whether that be in Syria or here in America.

Take the young boy whose refugee case NuDay took over. When he first arrived in the United States, he was reserved and hesitant. His creative moments reflected this – whenever he drew, he would pick darker tones and present grim scenes. However, as time passed and he began to heal – both physically and mentally – his drawings began to reflect this. All of a sudden, black became replaced with light blue, red with yellow; a rainbow began to appear.

When a child goes from a stressful situation into being told they are valuable and deserving of their basic rights, they come to believe in themselves, and begin to see the world around them in a better light.

That's what art does. It gives us – especially Syria's youth – an outlet to heal, to once again see life through the bright shades. It is an inspiration to see that Syria's children, despite everything they have witnessed, understand that the world is a bright and beautiful place, a place as wonderful as their deepest dreams.

It is this hope that continues to power the work that NuDay does, that flows through NuDay's efforts. We work in honor of Syria's young artists: the children who deserve to lead healthy and playful lives, just as anyone else. And together, we are painting a new future: one where everyone lives with dignity.

Huda Alawa is the Development Director at NuDay.

  • NuDay

There's no such thing as "too old" for a teddy!

When you were a child, did you also have that special teddy?

That one teddy - out of many that you might have owned - that would rest in your arms as you drifted off to sleep? The teddy that got your smell, that slowly looked well-loved over the nights it spent in your arms: the good nights, the scary nights, and even just the regular one-of-many nights. As you grew older, you might not have remained as bonded to it, but it was still there: ready to be hugged if you needed it. Then maybe one day it was left behind in a basket, a closet, where it would spend the rest of its time, its mission accomplished, taken out once in a while in moments of nostalgia to hold, to smell, and to remember the comfort and security it has always brought you.

Nearly all of us grew up with that one special teddy. It is a sign of our childhood, our naïveté and need for comfort.

Since NuDay's formal inception, teddy bears and stuffed animals have been high on our list of needs when people ask us what they can collect for our NuDay containers. Yes, stuffed teddies - bring 'em all! The well-loved ones, the new ones, the less than perfect ones, and the still stiff ones. We will happily and gratefully take them all, pack them into bags and boxes and send them off on one of our many containers to Northwestern Syria, where they arrive in Idlib and are gifted to eager children. Children who have lost so much, who have experienced more loss than any of us can comprehend. Witnessed atrocities and human suffering that go well beyond anyone's comprehension.

Yet, children need to heal.

They need to retain hope, to wake up each morning with a less heavy weight, with more joy and energy.

Teddy bears make that a possibility.

Stuffed animals provide the same love, the same comfort, the same sense of safety and glimpse of careless childhood that we each experienced. Even if you are a child in Syria - perhaps especially if you are a child in Syria. That, dear friends, is the #PowerOfATeddy. It is a strong, warm, and fuzzy bond, and it is there to last.

One item NuDay sends through humanitarian containers? Bikes!

For the past six years, we have been working diligently to empower women and children in Syria through a dignified manner.

If you've been following NuDay, you likely know our founding story: that NuDay was born from one humanitarian container, which quickly resulted in a massive community committed to making a positive change. What you might not know is the immense impact that you have as a supporter of NuDay - be that through attending a container packing, running a toy drive, or donating to one of NuDay's many causes.

In 2018, we were able to reach over one million vulnerable people with much-needed humanitarian and medical supplies. You read that right: one million women, children, elderly, and people with disabilities were positively impacted by your dedication to NuDay.

And our impact only keeps growing.

NuDay has since become a formalized US non-profit organization. As a 501(c)3, NuDay is committed to being honest with our supporters. For this reason, we conduct yearly audits and publish annual reports, which can be accessed on our website at any point.

We have been recognized across a wide variety of platforms for our transparency. GuideStar has granted NuDay badges for two years straight, and in 2019, we were recognized with the platinum seal of transparency. On Great Nonprofits, NuDay was ranked as a top-nonprofit in 2018 and 2019. We've also been given badges on Global Giving for being a top-ranked and highly effective organization. We appreciate and value those honors, but do not take them for granted. Our work speaks for itself, that much we know.

Now, we are taking it a step further with this blog.

The aim of this platform is to share with you both small and big stories of our work, including formal statistics and general updates. We want to remind you about how you can (and are!) make a difference in somebody's life - and in yours as well. What really makes us the most excited about our blog is putting a face to what we do .

From the US to Syria: Volunteers pose in front of a fully loaded humanitarian container after a long day of work.

With all the hard work and formal requirements, logistics, accounting and fundraising, legalities, and even human resources work, we believe that the best way to stay connected in the midst of it all is to take a step back and listen. Listen to the stories of beneficiaries, who are living the realities everyday. Listen to the inspiration of field workers, the ones most intimately connected to the work being done and who sacrifice everything for the greater good. Listen to the stories of our supporters - people like you - who have deeply reflected on why they are involved with an organization like NuDay. It is in these moments that you can really appreciate humanitarian work as something bigger than just from the bureaucratic aspects of everyday tasks (even when, yes, that takes up a lot of the day!), but as about the individual person: the single mother, the young girl, the differently-abled boy. We want to share those stories with you all.

We want to be empowered together as volunteers, team members, donors, and, yes, beneficiaries, because we are all the same, even if we have different roles and capacities. When we do, our motto shines through even more: we work together One Person at a Time, One Humanity Closer.

Distributions take place in camps, rural areas, and housing settlements. Together, we're reaching vulnerable people across Syria.

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 NuDay is a 501(c)(3) NGO  EIN: 46-2041995