Announcing Blossom Hill Foundation's 2016 Fellows!
Shala Gafary (Greece)
Shala Gafary is a U.S.-based attorney with expertise in immigration. Fluent in Farsi, Shala is helping to manage the legal transition from asylee to refugee for the Farsi-speaking displaced families residing in non-traditional transitional “housing”, including squatting communities and informal refugee camps in Greece. Her guidance will provide critical support for families with limited options due to their legal statuses and various border closings.
For Shala, the Blossom Hill Foundation fellowship will connect her with other leaders in the refugee movement to address systemic gaps. Furthermore, Shala's legal guidance will "empower individuals and families in making informed decisions about their futures in Europe and the West."
Erika Gillette & Hessam T. (Greece)
Erika Gillette and Hessam T. are partnering on an exciting program for refugee children in camps located in Greece that provides science experiments with practical outcomes – knowledge and take-home gadgets. Erika brings years of experience in developing science-based hands-on curricula for children and Hessam brings bioengineering research expertise and language skills to the team.
Erika is thriled to "work towards expanding opportunities for STEM education for refugee children and inspire a new future generation of scientists." Hessam believes that this fellowship allows him pay it forward. "Growing up, I was lucky enough to have amazing teachers and mentors. Blossom Hill Foundation fellowship provides the same mentorship and educational opportunity for children of war"
Celal Karadogan (Turkey)
Celal Karadogan is the founder of the Young and Disabled Sports Club in Adana, Turkey. This club provides career guidance and mentoring, education support, and sports activities for disabled youth. Celal is expanding services to now include programming for disabled refugee youth residing in Turkey -- creating a borderless space for children and their families.
Celal stated that "being a fellow of the Blossom Hill Foundation means to look future with hope to me. We hope to make a difference to children's life with this support."
Furogh Mirdad & Ahmad Wali Rostami (Afghanistan)
Furogh Mirdad and Ahmad Wali Rostami are both English language teachers in Afghanistan. Building on their years of experience, Furogh and Ahmad Wali are leading classes in business entrepreneurship and English-language teaching methodology to young women, ultimately aiding them in starting their own careers.
Furogh is excited to receive the Blossom Hill Fellowship as it creates opportunity for "inspiring children; particularly the young women, to initiate, create and shape their dream future." Likewise, Ahmad Wali believes the fellowship enables the team
"to provide the children with opportunities that I wish I had had when I was a child."
Esra'a Al Shafei (Bahrain / Jordan / Lebanon)
Esra’a Al Shafei is the founder of Mideast Tunes, the largest platform for independent musicians who use music as a tool for social change in the Middle East. Branching from this platform, Esra’a has created Mideast Tunes Academy, a digital media production program, accessible to youth in the Middle East, allowing them to explore the intersection of independent music and social change in the Arab world and gain the necessary skills to host their own radio shows.
Esra'a noted that the Blossom Hill Foundation support is critical to "helping us reach our fullest potential. This partnership will be vital in taking the Mideast Tunes platform to new heights, maximizing its regional effectiveness and reaching new audiences."