Friday, September 01, 2006

NEWS: Chicago Jordanians raise funds to purchase ambulances for Jordan

Fundraiser with Mayor Daley for Jordan, Sept. 21

Mark your calendars and buy your tickets today to reserve a seat at a special cocktail reception hosted by the Chicago Sister Cities Program and Mayor Daley on Sept. 21 at Maxim's Restaurant.

The Chicago Jordanian Community and the SIster Cities Committee are working to purchase several ambulances for Jordan and they need your help.

Chicago area Jordanians dig deep to help homeland
By Ray Hanania

Members of Chicago’s Jordanian and Arab American community are working hard to strengthen bridges between the City of Chicago and the City of Jordan under a program hosted by Mayor Daley.

Under the direction of the Sister City’s Program, which is directed by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, local Arab American and other business and community leaders have mounted a drive to purchase and send three ambulances to the city of Jordan.

The program was a part of the recent visit by a delegation of Jordanian and Arab Americans who visited Jordan with Mayor Daley under the auspices of the Sister City’s/Cultural Affairs Department trip earlier this year.

Nemer Ziyad, one of the members of the Amman-Chicago Sister Cities Program, said that the goals of the group are to reinforce goodwill between residents of Amman, Jordan and Chicago, and to also build trust and understanding between Americans and the Arab World.

“This is a very important program because it is exactly what people who want to help build bridges and break through misunderstanding need to do. We need to help each other,” said Ziyad, who is vice president of one of America’s largest Middle Eastern food distributors, Ziyad Brothers Importing based in suburban Cicero, Illinois.

“I am working with a committee of people who are dedicated to achieving these goals and we are raising funds to purchase three ambulances medical equipment and medical supplies that we hope to send to Amman, Jordan to support their needs.”

Ziyad said that the group has a fundraiser to raise funds that will be held Thursday, Sept. 21, at Maxim’s Restaurant, 24 East Goethe Street in Chicago, from 6 to 8 PM. Tickets, which can be purchased from any of the Sister City Committee members, are $150 per person or $250 per couple.

“It’s important for Arabs in American to do what they can to help our people back home because we are fortunate here and we have to help and give back to the people there. It’s important to help address needs that we might be able to support,” said Ziyad who noted that the committee has received tremendous help and support from members of Chicago’s Arab American business and medical community.

Chicago has one of the largest and most effective Chapters of the National Arab American Medical Association and its members are behind the effort, Ziyad noted.

“A project like this opens some doors and creates bridges between Chicago and Amman, not just medical or politics but culture and helping their society. We want people in Chicago to see Amman Jordan and the Arab World better and we want people on the Arab world and in Jordan to see Chicago and America better,” Ziyad said.

Ziyad said that the project is also involved in helping children in the Middle East, raising funds and medical equipment and items, including glasses for children and computers for schools.

In addition to Ziyad, the Amman-Chicago Sister Cities Program includes Geda Condit, Khaled Akkawi, Ahlam Khouri, Mary O’Connor, Faisal Salman, Sannaa Hussien, Susan Leonis, and John Pikarski.

Chicago’s Sister City’s Programs is considered one of the most successful of its kind in the United States. Although it has been around for many years, Mayor Daley has expanded the program benefit both the citizens of Chicago and those in the communities participating in the program.

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs was created in 1984 as a cabinet-level municipal department solely dedicated to providing arts and cultural services. Cultural Affairs is dedicated to serving the people of Chicago by nurturing, enhancing, complementing, and marketing Chicago's cultural resources.

The Chicago Sister Cities Program, Inc., a not-for-profit organization administered by Cultural Affairs, links Chicago and its sister cities abroad in partnerships to promote trade, economic development, cultural awareness, and educational opportunities. Sister Cities provides leadership for developing global relationships that address both cultural and economic concerns.

Cultural and economic exchanges between Chicago and its 23 sister and friendship cities pave the way for Chicago businesses to expand into new markets, and provide technical assistance to foreign governments.

For more information on the program, contact Shufen Zhao at 312-744-7528.