AWAL Graduation


Congratulations to the women of AWAL! After six months of collectiveness, the women of AWAL’s first successful semester graduated at AAANY on June 17th. Each woman was awarded with a certificate, then had the opportunity to speak briefly about her personal experience. This particular group of strong women will be missed, and will always be remembered as the first group of members within the program. AAANY is looking forward to the next cycle of AWAL members in the Fall!


AWAL’s Bay Ridge Community Drug Forum

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This past Sunday, June 14th, the AWAL Women’s Advocacy Group organized and hosted the Bay Ridge Community Drug Forum at AAANY. At the forum, attendees voiced their concerns regarding the prevalent and systematic drug abuse within the Bay Ridge community, especially after the recent deaths of two Arab youths as a result of drug overdose. The forum began with a moment of silence and prayer for all people lost to drug overdose, and provided community members with space to talk about drug addiction as well as the importance of communal unity and support in tackling this matter.

The forum featured guest speakers Sandy Lulu from NYU Lutheran, Donna Mae DePola from the Resource Training Center, and Council Member Vincent Gentile. Community members were able to engage in a dialogue and Q&A with the experts about the impact of drug addiction as well as resources available for those seeking support. The speakers highlighted the significance of supporting someone with a drug addiction by providing them with the help they require rather than enforcing the addiction by staying silent. The forum provided a safe space where multiple community members disclosed their experience working with a loved one who has an addiction. Ultimately, the group concluded that the safety and health of individuals is more important than the sense of shame and embarrassment the community may feel in regards to knowing someone with a drug addiction.


  • Drug addiction is a mental disease that anyone can suffer from regardless of religious, ethical, or moral beliefs. We need to drop the idea that drug abuse happens to “bad people” or people from “broken families”.
  • Prevention starts at home. Start talking to your children at a young age about the negative impacts vs. positive impacts of prescription drugs and appropriate usage.
  • Always keep the door open for conversations with young people regarding drug use. Do not create a sense of fear, paranoia or alarm when discussing this issue.
  • You cannot force someone to seek help. This approach does not allow someone to fully rehabilitate.
  • Some of the signs of drug addiction include lack of sleep, becoming less sociable, irritability and drowsiness, and small noticeable changes in personality.
  • Do not be afraid to speak up. It is not shameful or “haram” to seek support. There are people who can support you and keep everything completely confidential.

If you have questions regarding drug addiction and wish to seek additional support, you can reach out to these networks, where all information will be kept strictly confidential:

Advocacy & Civic Engagement Department at the Arab American Association of New York
(718) 745-3523

The Resource Counseling Center of Bay Ridge
(718) 871-7433

Sandy Lulu at NYU Lutheran Medical Center
(718) 437-5236

Turning Point Brooklyn
(718) 360-8146


Bay Ridge 6th Annual Storefront Art Walk (SAW) Features Stories of AWAL Women

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Brooklyn-based Arab American artist, Katherine Toukhy, facilitated workshops in our AWAL (Arab Women Activists & Leaders) class on displacement and immigration. From the conversations in this circle, along with one on one interviews with AWAL participants, she designed and crafted a beautiful piece for the storefront window of the Arab American Association of New York. Check out her blurb below:

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Press Conference for Muslim School Holidays

AWAL organizers attended the press conference with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio in Bay Ridge where he announced that Eid would become part of the public school calendar.

Aml, Shahira, Charles Fall (from the Mayor's office), and Nahawnd
Aml, Shahira, Charles Fall (from the Mayor’s office), and Nahawnd

Aml Osman was interviewed for an article by The Columbia Journalist, along with AAANY Adult Ed instructor, Somia Elrowmeim. Read it here.

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Another AWAL organizer and mother of NYC public schools, Shahira Dahab, shared her thoughts with Al Arabiya channel.