Behar Godani is the kind of person non-profits dream of having in their corner.
In fact, if you search “ultimate supporter” in Wikipedia… well, you mostly get a bunch of gibberish, but you should see her photo.
She started spearheading support for PLC way back in the day; fund-raisers, spreadin’ the word, Facebook “likes”, bake sales—she’s done it all! And that’s great for an overseas staff like ours because we don’t spend much time Stateside. She’s a lifeline across the Atlantic, and today (which also happens to be her birthday!) she agreed to an interview.
PLC: Let’s start by hearing a little about you. Tell us about yourself.
Behar: My name is Behar, and I’m now a 25 year-old student program analyst for the US Department of State. I recently graduated with my MA in Political Science and my Graduate Certificate in Bio-defense for Critical Analysis and Strategic Responses to Terrorism. I’m interested in anything and everything relating to politics in the Middle East, although, being Kurdish, I’ve always had a bias for the politics surrounding Iraqi Kurdistan. Over the past year I’ve been a co-partner in two projects that resulted in the production of a documentary and short film on the Kurdish Diaspora in the US, and I did some work with the US Institute of Peace where I was featured in a documentary about issues in diaspora communities. Non profit work through various organizations has also always been a profound interest of mine. The use of media to promote issues within my own diaspora community and my Kurdish community back home has been a way for me to feel like I’m contributing in some positive way—however small—to a homeland that I’ve always felt connected to but have never quite had complete access to.
My ultimate aspiration, on a more general level, would be to finally see peace in Iraq as a whole, but, more specifically, I yearn for the day when my particular country—Kurdistan—is finally independent and when its children have the educational and healthcare initiatives in place that ensures a long term, brighter future for generations to come.
PLC: So how did you hear about the Preemptive Love Coalition?
Behar: Maureen Mcluckie from “Kurdistan: Save the Children” first referred me to Jeremy and Cody via email after I expressed my desire to become directly involved with an NPO helping Kurds and Arabs in Iraq from the states. When I first saw the initial BuyShoesSaveLives website, I remember getting goosebumps as I couldn’t believe the amount of dedication and love PLC put into helping Iraqi children and how easy it was for anyone to simply donate. They even had ideas about how we as students could get involved at our universities, and that’s when I think I knew I’d found the right organization. Seeing teenagers wear klash with jeans was perhaps another indicator. Who knew Kurdish shoes could look so cool with jeans?!
PLC: You’ve obviously got a big heart for your homeland and these children. Where does your motivation for them come from?
Behar: I think my greatest motivation has been a sincere desire to move beyond the politics and crippling bureaucracy that’s done such a huge disservice to all Iraqis and to simply start at the grassroots level by helping people. As a child of two Kurdish parents who first came to the US as refugees about thirty years ago, I’ve seen the power of grassroots movements first hand in terms of keeping culture and language alive, but also by bringing people together in the name of a greater cause that we can all believe in. Helping sick children, many of whom continue to suffer from the diseases contracted by their parents after exposure to Saddam Hussein’s chemical agents, is a cause that is—or at least should be—an easy way to unite people of all backgrounds, be they Kurdish, Iraqi, Turcomen, Assyrian, or your average American with an incredibly big heart. It’s something we can all agree on as human beings, and I couldn’t find an organization that communicated that better than PLC.
PLC: Thanks! Is there anything you’d like to tell the rest of the Coalition? Any rally cries, encouragements, or challenges?
Behar: I’d like to encourage continued commitment despite all the opposition, obstacles and incredibly vocal naysayers that you may encounter along your way. Where there are pure hearts, strong wills, a love of God and a refusal to accept ‘no’ for an answer, there will always be a way, God-willing. — Our thanks to Behar and the entire Kurdish Student Organization at George Mason University for being such awesome partners for kids in Iraq! We’re wishing you a happy birthday today from Iraqi Kurdistan!