Empowering vulnerable individuals to rebuild their lives
Nadia Alawa is the founder of NuDay, an international relief organisation providing humanitarian assistance and aid for people experiencing humanitarian crises worldwide with a focus on Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. This female empowerment advocate says she is inspired daily by her team, donors and volunteers and believes in the power of local community, especially when it comes to humanitarian work.
NuDay has secured aid for over 6 million people affected by the Syrian crisis and provides long-term socio-economic and educational programming through public donations and funding. Since the start of the Syrian revolution, the organisation has shipped millions of dollars worth of clothes, medicine and food to displaced families in Syria.
NuDay carries out a range of projects for people affected by the crisis in Syria such as building wells for those without access to clean water, educational facilities for people in need of schools, medical support for hospitals that have had countless attacks and job creation for women via self-sustainable business. Projects can be as simple as volunteers sewing and distributing sleeping-bags or as complex as building homes in a community with a school, community centre, playground, running water and farming for displaced women and children.
Nadia was born and grew up in Denmark and after moving from Japan to the United States of America (USA) with Aiman Alawa, her husband, and three children, she spent years homeschooling her eight children in the USA. She carried out advocacy and humanitarian relief work for years in the USA before she was exposed to the conditions of Syria's mothers and children due to the Syrian crisis.
For almost a decade, Syria has been in an unstable situation with an entire generation that has become accustomed to a life filled with uncertainty and about 11.7 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance, over half of the pre-crisis population. Many families have been torn apart leaving mothers responsible for their children and sometimes a stranger's children.
Women are overwhelmed with psychological trauma, stressed over their situation and have little access to the basic needs for themselves and their families. Over 5 million children have no access to education, have lost their childhoods and without a way to earn an income, families are increasingly turning to child labour to earn enough money for the day's meal.
Nadia's identity as a woman and a mother led her to understand these harsh realities of Syria's women and children and she started fundraising for the country while in the USA soon after the Syrian revolution broke out in March 2011. She successfully collected several containers of clothing, food and supplies for aid agencies, but realised she would be more efficient if she had her own organisation, so she established NuDay from her home in New Hampshire with a small team of people from New England and contacts inside Syria in February 2013.
By May 2015, the organisation had sent 53 shipping containers with medical supplies, clothing, food and toys to conflict zones in northern Syria. Nadia raised $1 million for other kinds of help including smuggling goats into a besieged area near Damascus to produce milk for babies, finding housing and work for Syrian refugee widows in Turkey and opening a school for refugee children there.
NuDay has provided help for housing, work and schooling of Syrian refugees in Turkey, launched a campaign to pay medical bills and provided prosthetic arms for Ahmad Alkhalaf, a boy who drew attention to Syrian refugees by writing a letter to Barack Obama, president at the time. In 2017, the organisation undertook 480 projects inside Syria and within Turkey's Syrian refugee camps benefiting over 881 400 people.
Nadia’s empowered aid means sustainable income, access to basic needs, improved health, and community infrastructure and in recent years, NuDay has re-asserted its focus on protection and livelihood which guarantees long-term impact and empowerment. With every project Nadia and the organisation take on, they are working to empower vulnerable individuals to regain their lives and rebuild their futures again.