We’re excited to present our story series featuring powerful youth advocates representing our Kindness in Community Fund recipient organizations. For this message, we’re proud to present Rahaf and Skylar, who play different roles within Miry’s List. Donate to our Kindness in Community Fund today to help us continue this impactful work.
The first time Rahaf got on an airplane, she thought she was just going on a short visit. After all, she’d traveled before to her neighboring country, Iran, and had come back a few days later. But Rahaf didn’t realize when she left her colorful, historical hometown of Hillah in central Iraq, it would be indefinite.
Rahaf didn’t know it then, but she and her family were fleeing Iraq because her dad, Ahmed, worked for the U.S. government, which made him a target — they couldn’t tell anyone they were leaving. The flight took her from Baghdad to Turkey, then to New York City, and then finally to San Diego. The moment she stepped out of the airport, she was greeted by a tropical sunset unlike anything she’d ever seen. And when the family reached their new apartment, there was nothing there. No furniture, no bedding, none of the essentials folks take for granted. But one day, furniture, books, even an iPad to help her with schoolwork, started arriving on Rahaf’s doorstep. She was fascinated by these things appearing at her house without ever asking for them — down to a pair of rainbow roller skates.
The items were coming in thanks to the efforts of Miry’s List volunteers like Skylar, who was part of a similar effort for a recent Afghan refugee family, coordinating furniture and household setup to make their landing in the U.S. a bit softer. Skylar couldn’t imagine what it was like for someone to move across the world and come to an empty apartment without any comforts of home — but the help her own family received as her mother battled cancer inspired her.
With support from volunteers like Skylar, and from mentors like her second-grade teacher, Mrs. Butler, Rahaf’s journey began. As she didn’t know English at first, it was difficult for her to communicate with her classmates and understand the nuances of each conversation. But with Mrs. Butler’s help, she learned English in just three months. Now, a world away from Hillah, Rahaf is learning about her hometown through a school unit on the Babylonian Empire — Hillah is its city center, about 10 minutes away from Babel. Rahaf brings back what she learns from school to her family for them to talk about her memories of her hometown.
Miry’s List improves the experience for new arrival families by filling in the gaps in the governmental system of support for refugees, and providing a mechanism for volunteers to directly help families with the things, people, and programming needed to thrive in the United States. Born This Way Foundation is proud to support Miry’s List through the Kindness in Community Fund and the young people with and for whom they work, like Rahaf and Skylar.
Are you interested in helping us fund more organizations just like Miry’s List? Donate so we can make a difference together.
In 2021, Rahaf created her first fundraising campaign on behalf of Miry’s List. She even came up with what she wanted to raise money for: bedding. When Rahaf and her family arrived in the U.S., they struggled with getting the basics. They knew what it was like the first night in that empty apartment, with no bedding or blankets to make it feel like a home. Rahaf wanted to change that for other families, so she started asking people for money and created videos explaining why this was so close to her heart. On behalf of Miry’s List, Rahaf raised about $80,000 to provide refugees with new bedding.
Rahaf was also inspired to act during the Afghan refugee crisis. She knew what it was like to come to the U.S. with nothing; she knew girls just like her were suffering without access to education and safety. At the time, she was saving up for a new iPad. But she was so inspired by Miry and the team that she created a video asking people to help. She even donated her iPad savings to support kids like her.
Rahaf knows what a tiny moment of kindness, like a blanket or an iPad, can do for someone. And she’s taken those seemingly small acts of kindness and turned them into something so much more. We can make a difference in young people’s lives, just like Rahaf has been doing. Donate if you want to help Miry’s List and other Kindness in Community Fund recipient organizations working creatively and innovatively to support young people.