Love Looks Like Henna, Falafel, and Mary Kay

"What does love look like? It has the hands to help others."
- Saint Augustine

by Lannea Russell

The laughter of women, the smell of Mediterranean delicacies, and the array of beauty products filled Maha's home. For two days, her house was transformed to funnel compassion into action. The fundraiser brought women from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds together to raise more than $2,700 through massages, haircuts, Mary Kay products, henna body artwork, and crafts.

When visiting family in Lebanon, Maha saw firsthand the suffering of Syrian refugees and her heart was stirred to do something. All proceeds will be donated directly to refugees living in Lebanon when she travels to the country this summer.

When Anna (Maryam) heard about Maha’s idea to hold a Mary Kay fundraiser, she was inspired to act. “I had the idea to expand it to a Spa Night incorporating something I had seen before at our mosque,” she shared. Enthusiastically, she began to recruit women with diverse skills to expand the event’s scope. For those who would consider holding a similar event, she advises, “start with an idea with people who are willing to help, use your imagination, and consider promotion and timing.”

  Showing off henna artwork created by a woman who volunteered her skills at the fundraiser  

Showing off henna artwork created by a woman who volunteered her skills at the fundraiser 

Both Maha and Anna are involved in the Compassion Gathering, a Peace Catalyst program that has brought together Muslim and Christian women to develop friendships, learn from one another, and partner in compassion-oriented projects. Since January, the group has met for discussion groups focusing on topics such as prayer, listening, empathy, and the source of compassion. They’ve attended special events at mosques, an interfaith Passover Seder, and the Islamic Relief and Development banquet. Developing friendships as a community, members have gone hiking together and took a road trip to the mountains to visit a women’s-only hot spring cave. Recently the group was involved in collecting needed supplies for a refugee family who lost their home in a fire.

“This strengthens cooperation between different faiths and even within your own faith,” Anna pointed out. “Together, we’re working for a common cause regardless of background.”

The hands of love might donate massages, cook food, deliver supplies to refugees, embrace in prayer, or open to shake hands with someone from a different faith background.

What does love look like to you?

  women shared their culinary skills in creating delicious food for sale

women shared their culinary skills in creating delicious food for sale

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