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Miry's List honored for helping refugees settle in SoCal

Yemenis Ahmed Abdallah and son Hezam, 11, who were among those stranded in Djibouti when President Trump ordered his travel ban, arrived at LAX on February 8, 2017.
Yemenis Ahmed Abdallah and son Hezam, 11, who were among those stranded in Djibouti when President Trump ordered his travel ban, arrived at LAX on February 8, 2017.
DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images
Yemenis Ahmed Abdallah and son Hezam, 11, who were among those stranded in Djibouti when President Trump ordered his travel ban, arrived at LAX on February 8, 2017.
Miry Whitehill-Ben Atar, founder of Miry's List, carries a child during one of the organization's communal picnics.
Courtesy of Miry's List


On a recent Thursday night, Eagle Rock resident Miry Whitehill-Ben Atar was sitting in a Riverside County apartment, streaming a conversation on Facebook Live.

In the video, a 2-year-old boy squirms around the living room. Whitehill-Ben Atar pans the camera to show a new stroller and a set of crocheted pillows, delivered to the apartment by strangers.

"What do you think about living in America?" she asks Sayed Sadat, the boy's father and a former architect with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She wants him to rate his family's experience after moving from Afghanistan on a scale from 1 to 10. 

"It's very peaceful. Very safe," Sadat says. “About a nine."

"You're around a nine? Wow! That's really impressive," she says. "You have a very positive outlook on life, my friend."

Sadat is one of more than a hundred newly arrived families aided by Whitehill-Ben Atar’s organization, Miry’s List. The nonprofit delivers household supplies and social support to recently resettled families from Syria, Jordan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.

On Tuesday, she was honored by the Los Angeles City Council for her work.

Since its founding last year, Miry's List has played matchmaker for families in need of basic amenities as they search for work and stability in their new American homes. The organization connects them with donated household items, everything from toothpaste to couches.

Miry’s List tries to remove the barrier between American citizens and the new arrival families, Whitehill-Ben Atar told KPCC. Her hope is to make sure families feel safe. 

"Once you feel safe, that's how you transition from refugee to new arrival," she said. 

Once referred to a family, Miry's List volunteers meet with them in-person. Together, the families and volunteers make a list of the needed household supplies and post it online.  The lists usually have about 100 items. 

The organization was founded last year when Whitehill-Ben Atar heard about a family of Syrian refugees that needed supplies for their new home in Azusa, she said. She created an online shopping list for the family and asked friends on Facebook if they wanted to pitch in.

Ten months later, the organization is growing by 12 families a week.

On Sunday, June 18, Miry's List will host its first fundraiser at the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock. It will feature food, music and speakers from recently arrival families.