Nadia Alawa is the Founder and President of NuDay Syria, a non-profit organization bringing humanitarian aid directly to Syria. NuDay Syria focuses on helping the displaced individuals and families who lack safe shelter and food, as well as providing educational and economic opportunities to them.
We asked Nadia Alawa to tell us about more what it takes to run a powerful charity organization and her journey towards humanitarian relief.
The Tempest: What’s one thing people assume about you that isn’t true?
People often assume that I am fully Syrian or have lived in Syria in order to care so deeply about the humanitarian crisis in Syria. However, the crisis in Syria is a global issue and not related to nationality, as we all should care about the extreme levels of suffering that is taking place.
What sparked your journey towards what would now become NuDay Syria?
Well, most of all what encouraged me to start NuDay Syria was just the natural extension of work and efforts that I was already doing. Prior to starting the organization I had already spent a year fundraising and setting up events to create awareness about the humanitarian and political situation for mothers and children inside Syria. However, I knew that I had to make my efforts more effective and longer-lasting by working in a more deliberate and focused manner. So from there, I began focusing exclusively on the humanitarian aspect in order to have a stronger influence and see more direct results.
How have you seen your impact affect both those here in America and in those you’re directly seeking to impact?
People tell me often that I inspire them, but I like to think that I facilitate inspiration rather than me being the actual inspiration! It has been quite amazing to be a part of mobilizing others to do good and continue to do good, and getting them to think about how they can be catalysts for change. I love that.
Syrian children and families are loving the connection they feel with their American counterparts and that’s giving them a lot of hope and brings a smile to their faces. That’s been wonderful.
Why is it so important to have women like you do the work that you’re doing?
Both women and men have to be sincere in their work and do it for the right reasons. That being said – women get things done. They have strong instincts and are fearless when it comes to standing up for others and making a difference. I’ve absolutely loved the women I’ve met with and how focused they are. Also, because women are often mothers, when we become involved in a cause, we already have a strong sense of time-management and multitasking, and possess those “motherly instincts” which serve really well when you’re in the humanitarian field. It helps you relieve the pain and suffering of fellow mothers.
How did your childhood influence your career decisions, and is there anything you wish you could have done differently?
Founding and running NuDay Syria is more of a lifestyle than a career to me. I have always been convinced the world is for all of us to live in and have had a strong sense of social justice.
When I was 11, I set up a door-to-door collection for starving children in Africa, and despite a lot of nay-sayers, I collected around $100 which was quite a large amount at that time. I went door to door for weeks, ringing bells and explaining the purpose. Later on I did collections and efforts for Bosnia, but I was mostly was occupied with raising my family and being an active community member.
I don’t think about whether I should have done things differently. I believe there was a plan all along. Everything I have gotten to do in regards to relief and empowerment efforts for Syria seems to be a continuation of things I did previously, or training received in some ways that were effortlessly transferred to the work I do now. So, no regrets, but a lot of thankfulness to God for being given this opportunity every day to make a real difference in other mothers’ lives.
What is one piece of advice you’d have for young women like you attempting to enter the field of humanitarian relief work?
Follow your guts and stay humble. I spent many years accumulating life experience, and many hours researching and reading about non-profit work. I spent a lot of time looking into the good and the bad effects of charity work vs. humanitarian aid; I brainstormed my vision of empowerment and aid with dignity rather than a “do-good” kind of effort.