Common Humanity is a non-profit organization based in New York City which seeks to build understanding, respect and friendship with the Arab and Muslim world. We believe that the road to peace in the Middle East lies in recognizing the humanity of people on all sides of the conflict we’re in. Instead of sending more guns to the Middle East, we should be sending compassion and humanitarian relief supplies.
Since our beginning in 2009, we have led three medical delegations to Damascus during which North American doctors shared their medical expertise with their Syrian colleagues. Sadly, the war in Syria has prevented us from returning but we are seeking to continue our medical delegations elsewhere in the Middle East.
During one of our visits, we made contact through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with a group of Iraqi refugee artists who had fled to Damascus. We began purchasing their paintings and bringing them back to New York, exhibiting and selling then, and with the money we received going back to Damascus and repeating the process by buying another round of paintings. The exhibits we’ve held have attracted several hundred visitors who have expressed appreciation for the opportunity of seeing a part of the beauty and humanity of Arab culture.
Encouraged by the positive response we’ve received, we’re trying to expand our outreach. We believe that our message of peaceful co-existence is urgently needed today. We are working to “take our show on the road” and exhibit these beautiful paintings in other parts of the country. Your contribution will help us accomplish that goal.
Mel Lehman is the director of of Common Humanity. He has worked in international humanitarian issues for several decades, inducing two decades at the National Council of Churches. He has traveled extensively in the Middle East and has published a number of articles about his experience.