Guest Post: King County Heritage Organization Steps Up in a Time of Need

Temporary exhibit at the Seattle Center during a past Arab Festival, courtesy of Salaam Cultural Museum.

The Salaam Cultural Museum (SCM) exists to raise awareness about Arab American cultures and support refugees and immigrants both locally and internationally. Here, they share with us how they’re fulfilling that mission in Beirut: 

SCM has been part of the King County cultural community since 1996, promoting understanding of the people, cultures, languages, religions, and lands of Middle Eastern region. SCM provides teaching tools, maintains a speaker bureau, and cares for and loans out Middle Eastern cultural artifacts that were acquired by its founder, Rita Zawaideh. Rita recently received the Spirit of Liberty Award from the Ethnic Heritage Council for her decades of advocacy on behalf of Middle Eastern and North African communities in the U.S. and around the world.

In addition to this work, SCM has been seeking a permanent location for their cultural artifacts. Earlier this year, SCM held a community meeting at Cherry Street Mosque in Seattle, where they hope to establish a museum soon.

SCM’s work extends to humanitarian aid as well. When an explosion devastated the city of Beirut on August 4, SCM quickly joined relief efforts to assist the people of Beirut and Lebanon, who have already been impacted by national economic collapse and COVID-19. SCM’s fundraising campaign started the day after news of the explosion, collecting funds to purchase emergency medical supplies, walkers, wheelchairs, blankets, clothing and more. SCM’s Regional Manager in Jordan, Basel Sawalha, has been working with Jordan Hashemite Charities to transport the supplies overland and via airlift to Lebanon. In addition, a team from SCM is traveling to Beirut to set up distribution centers. SCM plans to continue fundraising and send aid to Lebanon for the foreseeable future.