News / USA

Muslim Women Host Fundraiser for Sandy Victims

Suzanne Presto
A group of women in Washington's diplomatic circles decided to use their different cultures to help people in the northeastern United States recover from superstorm Sandy.  The benefit, organized by women from predominantly Muslim countries, is an example of "cultural diplomacy" at work.

Dancing, exotic food in abundance, camaraderie - all in an ambassador's residence in Washington, DC.  But this is not a typical party.  It is a fundraiser for the victims of superstorm Sandy, which devastated coastal areas of the northeastern United States, particularly in New York and New Jersey.  

The scenes of destruction spurred Rosa Rai Djalal,  the wife of the Indonesian ambassador to the United States, into action.  

"I saw the TV before and during the hurricane and it is so devastated, and I feel a sense of deja vu because, you know, Indonesia was hit by a huge earthquake in 2004 and at that time all the international community helped us and I right away called my friends [and said] 'Let us do something to help them,'" she said.

Djalal is president of the Muslim Women's Association in Washington and rallied fellow ambassadors' spouses and diplomats.

They decided to highlight their different cultures for the benefit of U.S. storm victims.  

Guests paid $50 to attend the lunchtime benefit at the Indonesian ambassador's residence.  All proceeds went to the American Red Cross, where Raquel Mata works.

"I think the title of this event says it all, 'Solidarity for Victims of Hurricane Sandy'.  Because, you know, it does not have a face.  We are all together.  We are all unified in a cause that is affecting everybody," she said.

It is that sense of unity that matters to Fatima Aujali, whose father is the Libyan Ambassador to the United States.  

"Muslim people really care about our friends and the American people.  This is just us trying to do something to help them out,' she said.

Guests bid on donated items as they explored the cultures of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Iraq, Indonesia, Libya, Tunisia, Turkey, Jordan and the Palestinian territories.  

"I have not been exposed to many Muslim countries, and this is a very good opportunity to see them and meet them and talk about it," said guest Se Young Thomas.

They also feasted on a vast array of Asian and Middle Eastern delights.  

The combination of diversity and unity appealed to U.S. Deputy Chief of Protocol Natalie Jones.

"So many women and so many countries came together in such little time to unite around victims of Hurricane Sandy, and they did this through the power of food and their cultures and traditions," she said.

Jones praised the event as "culinary diplomacy" in action.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs