How does a Syrian refugee start their life over in the U.S.? Try hosting a dinner for an entire neighborhood.
That's exactly what the New Arrival Supper Club is all about. Every month, a new refugee family will cook food for an entire neighborhood. The club will sell tickets to the event, and 90% of the proceeds will go to the family that cooked.
The August edition of the club featured Maaysa and Abdul, two refugees from Syria who arrived to the U.S. a year ago with their 5 kids.
"Thank God," says Abdul when I ask him how he feels about the turnout. "The attendance was good. And god willing, we performed good as well."
The club was started by Miry Whitehill and Katie Kildow, two L.A. women who really wanted to help Syrian refugees.
“They’re still in the process of really identifying and building what their new life in America is all about," says Whitehill.
And Maaysa and Abdul aren't the only ones figuring it out. The project started in March of this year and has already helped dozens of Syrian families in L.A., in part through Miry's List, a nonprofit project from Miry Whitehill that supplies families with basic household items.
At least 25 people were in attendance. Friends, parents and dates walked through the door to get a helping of Maaysa and Abdul's cooking. The guest list included Olivia, a 13-year-old who donated a big portion of her mitzvah gifts to Miry's List.
“I wanted to give it to people who needed it more than I did," Olivia says right before running to man the check-in desk.
If you attend one of these dinner parties, you'll see the words "Ana huna" embedded throughout. On picture frames, on the wall, on the tabled. "Ana huna" is Arabic for "I am here."
"It’s what we say to our families when we arrive to their homes for the first time,' says Whitehill. "And it’s what they say to us because the refugee story has ended. They are here. Ana huna."
Maaysa and Abdul say they may be struggling to get by, but they're still very grateful for their new country.
"Some things are easy. Some things are hard," says Abdul. "In terms of language, it's still difficult for us. But life, overall, is nice."
Related stories on Circa:
This 14-year-old from Iraq isn't a victim anymore—he's a proud American
Meet the couple tandem biking across Europe to raise money for Syrian refugees
These Iraqis risked everything to run away from ISIS in Mosul