By Jamie Jackson

On Tuesday, April 16, Avila University is sponsoring an opportunity for Kansas Citians to meet a survivor of what is now called al-Nakba (the Catastrophe). The May 14,1948, event resulted in half of all Palestinians being driven into exile while thousands of others were killed. Mariam Fathalla was then just 18. She and her husband fled to Lebanon where she has since raised three generations within the confines of a refugee camp.  

Fathalla comes to Kansas City with Amena ElAshkar, 24, a Palestinian journalist and translator, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Nakba survivors. She has known no home other than a refugee camp.  

The 89-year-old Fathalla and 24-year-old ElAshkar will share their story as two stateless Palestinians living in Lebanon at this free event sponsored by Avila University’s Buchanan Initiative for Peace and Nonviolence, and by four local organizations: Jewish Voice for Peace KC, Al-Hadaf KC, Citizens for Justice in the Middle East, and KC For Refugees. In an era when the dilemma of so many refugees worldwide promises to only get worse, this is Kansas City’s opportunity to better understand the challenge.

Reception and refreshments begin Tuesday, April 16, at 5:30 pm in Avila’s Thornhill Gallery, 11901 Wornall Rd, KC MO, with the presentation beginning at 6 pm. Contact peace@avila.edu with questions.

—By Jamie Jackson of Citizens for Justice in the Middle East