Muslim Girl recently interviewed Lisa Jaradat and Sam Shareef, the two powerhouse women behind the organization Impact-Aid, and we are thoroughly impressed and inspired. *snaps for Lisa and Sam*
Impact, which stands for International Movement Promoting Active Change for Tomorrow, is an organization actively working towards improving the lives of those affected by war, poverty, and natural disaster.
Impact has a diverse range of projects which include initiatives specifically developed for empowering women in vulnerable situations. The women’s initiatives include skills and computer training, English language classes, self-defense courses, and counseling, among many other important things.
They also have a number of children’s camps for kids living in areas where educational and social activities are not readily accessible. These camps provide a haven away from the often bleak realities of the communities they live in, giving them access to education and extra-curricular activities, such as music classes and horticulture.
But their work doesn’t stop there. In addition to providing home repairs, dental treatments, medical services, and disaster relief, Impact offers supporters the opportunity to sponsor families in the countries they are active in. The goal of the sponsorship program is, as Impact’s website so eloquently states is, “to help the families help themselves.” The objective of the sponsorships (and of Impact as a whole) is to invest in the future of these communities, to empower and uplift them so that they can become self-sufficient. There is also the option of providing tuition and scholarship assistance to help the children, many of them orphans, obtain an education.
One of Impact’s noteworthy initiatives was the Orphan Eid Project in Gaza. One of Impact’s supporters, Dr. Ahmad Abu Amr, who Sam and Lisa credit for bringing them together, purchased (thanks to Impact’s generous sponsors) and distributed Eid outfits to 35 orphans throughout Gaza. The following pictures are from that project.
Most recently, Impact has launched the Iftar and Suhoor Boxes as part of Impact Project Ramadan. The boxes provide a variety of healthy groceries to vulnerable families, ensuring that they are able to start and end their fasts on a healthy and nourishing note. Hint: Skip the beauty boxes this month and invest in something far more fulfilling!
Keep reading to hear from the ground-shaking women behind this amazing organization.
What is Impact all about, and what inspired you to start this organization ?
Sam: My inspiration for starting this organization was my children and my family. I look at them, and I feel blessed, thanks to God, blessed to have everything I could ever ask for in life: A roof over my head, food on my table, and a comfy bed to sleep in at night. You watch the news, look through your FB feed and what do you see? Constant war, poverty, destruction, and devastation…women left widows, children left orphans, and many left physically and mentally disabled.
Throughout the past several years we have been focused on giving back to the community in different ways, like sponsoring orphans and families, assisting those in need during hard times, medical missions, the back to school initiative, and so on. It wasn’t until recently…that we realized we could be doing so much more than giving these families money for food or clothes. We could give these families the opportunity to be able to provide for their own families by promoting active change throughout the community, through different programs that we are developing and currently implementing in Palestine. By forming Impact, we are creating, improving, and re-developing areas that have suffered loss and devastation by empowering those who are seeking an opportunity to change for the better.
Lisa: In anything in life, one is constantly seeking growth, expansion, improvement. What better way to promote active change then by formulating a non profit organization that which dedicates efforts to those in need? Impact is the essence of a rise, a movement towards empowering those who are seeking an opportunity to change for the better. We all can relate to that.
There are numerous organizations that are trying to assist people in Palestine. What makes your organization different?
Lisa: Correction, we are international. Pilot efforts started in Palestine. We will be serving the same populations in Lebanon, Jordan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Syria. What makes Impact unique is that we are creating opportunities that have sustainable future ability.
Sam: We are not just an organization, we are a team, a team of well educated women that have been brought together for the same cause. We have envisioned a brighter and better future for those in need; and by giving them the opportunity to advance themselves through training and development, we are not only creating job security and stability but we are creating an impact and change for a better future for our children, today.
What makes you who you are today, and how does that contribute to the success of Impact?
Sam: I believe that my experience and knowledge of the people of Palestine and those in the East, as well as having had the opportunity to have lived in Palestine during the second war, has made me much closer to the cause. I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to travel to several refugee camps throughout Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon, and seeing firsthand what the struggles of everyday life are for these individuals has given me a better understanding of how we as human beings can help make a change.
Lisa: Having the best of both worlds, Being born in the West, yet being culturally rooted in the East allows us to have cultural competency where we [can] break the silence, and the cruel stigmas portrayed by the media. I have several years of experience in the social service field in NYC. I took all that I have learned and am trying to bring this line of duty and change to the east.
What do you hope to establish with your organization?
Sam and Lisa: Change!
As Muslim women, some would argue that we are ghosted. As the co-founders of Impact-Aid, and being female professionals ourselves, we hope that this encourages all women, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, or faith to join in on our efforts in empowering those who surround us.
Where do you hope to see your organization five years from now?
Sam: Expanding and implanting active change worldwide. Support and collaboration with other local and national nonprofit organizations. We hope to have achieved a substantial amount of change and growth throughout the East by providing training, developing business opportunities for women sole providers, rebuilding communities through awareness, camps, counseling sessions, and much more. Not only changing the communities in the East, but bringing awareness, and change to local communities in our areas as well.
What are the biggest obstacles and challenges you face in doing the work that you do?
Lisa: It’s meeting the individuals that have been directly impacted by war, poverty, and have suffered loss; hearing their horror stories is an emotional roller-coaster ride. It drives us to work harder because there are far too many families in need. The fear of being underfunded and the possibility of delays in our efforts , the thought of not being able to finish what we started greatly troubles me. iMPACT is the vine of HOPE for these families.
How can others get involved or help?
Sam: We are always looking for volunteers. Volunteers are essential with any nonprofit organization, so if you are interested please send us an email. Also donations, donations, donations. For more information please visit our webpage where you can sponsor child, a family, women’s training projects, shop through our beautiful embroidery and more!
What is one thing you’d like people to know?
Sam and Lisa: That with us you will always see outcome. Where there is input, there is output, meaning with your help and donations towards our project goals, you will see change. We will continuously update our donors and sponsor with projects, emails, blogs, videos and more, whether it be through social media, fundraisers, etc. Everyone can help make an impact on the world.
Please consider donating to and supporting Impact-Aid and their efforts. With Ramadan right around the corner, it is imperative that we give back to organizations and charities making a difference in the world, and actively working towards improvement. Visit Impact’s website to learn more about their many important and inspiring projects, and to support.