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There’s A White Cloud Over Mosul, And You Helped Put It There

A white cloud is rising over this part of Mosul.

We’re at a warehouse inside the Mosul city limits, just a few miles from the front lines. Trucks are parked out front, but I can barely see them through the white haze. Our eyes are burning from it. People are coughing because of it.

But everyone is thrilled by it.

Redefining WE: A Peacemaking Photography Experience for Muslim and Christian Women

Have you ever had an idea that you just can’t NOT do for some inexplicable reason?

This project was one of those.

It started as an assignment for grad school. My professor made us immerse ourselves in a foreign subculture for a semester - a fairly easy task in the Seattle area where I live. Since I knew very little about it, I decided to use it as an excuse to learn about my local Muslim community. I called up a local mosque, the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS), and asked if I could visit. 

I had no idea it would set the course for my entire year.

Love From the Ashes of Hate

“You know, Courtney, for every terrible thing like this that happens, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of acts of love that create a ripple effect, touching all of us.”

Those were the first words Aunty Farida said to me yesterday morning, as she climbed into my car to go get a cup of tea together.

The night before, a transient man with a criminal record and a history of mental health problems lit their mosque on fire and then laid down on the asphalt to watch it burn. With the help of some accelerants, the fire spread quickly, severely damaging the back half of the Islamic Center of the Eastside, despite Seattle’s wet climate and recent sub-freezing temperatures.

The Front Lines Are Where We Live: 4 Ways to Respond to Violence With Love

We talk a lot about going to the front lines. Aleppo. Mosul. Fallujah. We talk a lot about going where no one else will go to love the ones no one else will love.

For many of us, it’s easy to think about the front lines as somewhere “over there.” But the truth is...

The front lines are where we live. And we need to show up here, too.

From “Dream City” to Nightmare to Medical Clinic: How You’re Meeting Needs in an Overlooked Refugee Camp

There is a place in Iraq called “Dream City.” But for many of the refugees who took shelter here after ISIS, it felt more like a nightmare.

Earlier this year, you helped provide water here for displaced families who found shelter in this unfinished housing development in northern Iraq.

For Hatem, Growing Up Is An Unexpected Privilege

Hatem is just starting to grow a mustache. He’s pimply. He’s shy and a tiny bit awkward in conversation. But he meets my eye every time I ask a question. His answers are short, but sure.

At 15 years old, he’s in that slice of in-between time, when boys’ bodies start to take the shape of men. We can now see in him growing into the adult he’s going to be. And we are left weak at the knees with gratitude.

The Unstoppable Determination of a Refugee Mom


Four of the fingernails on my right hand—and a good portion of the surrounding skin—are freshly painted purple. Toleen, four years-old and not yet skilled with the tiny brush in the bottle of nail polish we gave her a few days ago, decides she has finished my impromptu manicure. She climbs up into her mother’s lap and settles in for a few moments.

Her mom, Abeer, buries her face into her daughter’s messy curls, barely held back by a yellow plastic hair band. Toleen is her treasure.

Inclusivity Is More Than Tolerance

Photo by Christine Anderson

In the last couple months, most of us have at least considered dropping Facebook—and maybe even Instagram on the worst days. We just couldn’t face one more political post. The discussions about racism and discrimination have been frustrating at best, anger-inducing at worst.

This 5-Year-Old Wants to Be Famous… For Loving Kids in Aleppo

You know those people...the ones who are unapologetically awesome in the face of obstacles and don’t seem to experience feelings of insecurity or insufficiency?

Ava is one of those people. And at five years old, she is my new hero.

As Families Return to Aleppo, an Unthinkable Challenge Awaits

More families are expected to return to eastern Aleppo in the coming days, according to a report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The question is: what will they find? 

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