December 14, 2012, Washington, D.C. – John F. Kennedy once said: “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” In a world mired in politics, war, a sliding economy, and social disorder, children are often the innocent victims. Many have their lives disrupted or devastated by acts of war, lack of health care services, poverty, and homelessness. As global citizens, we must take time to ensure that these young victims are provided with the needed support and services to grow and prosper.
The newly created Blossom Hill Foundation has chosen to do just that. PAAIA had the opportunity to speak with founder Shiva Sarram about Blossom Hill’s mission to bring healing to war-ravaged youth.
Having been involved with philanthropic efforts for over twenty years, Sarram decided to take her work to the next level and found the Blossom Hill Foundation. The foundation supports organizations that engage and empower war-affected youth as leaders in the reconstruction of their lives and their communities. While there are many organizations that seek to provide services to child victims of war, Blossom Hill believes that the best way to move forward is to make these children active participants and leaders in the healing and reconstruction of their communities.
The Blossom Hill Foundation aims to be the primary way in which donors can reliably, transparently, and effectively donate to organizations helping children affected by conflicts. The foundation makes grants to NGOs around the world that have demonstrated their commitment to post-conflict reconstruction for youth. Blossom Hill is currently helping fund organizations working in Afghanistan, Colombia, Congo, Palestine, Rwanda, and Somalia.
Sarram told PAAIA that a lot of the inspiration for starting the foundation was her own experience as a child in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. “Even that year and a half living in Iran during the war had an impact on me. I remember that feeling going to bed, not knowing what would happen the next day,” she said. “[Blossom Hill] really started from the moment that I left the airport in Iran where I said if I really make it, if I really survive, I’m going to make a difference.”
Sarram described Blossom Hill as different from other philanthropic efforts because it does not simply provide services to victims of war. Rather, it seeks a more long term solution by funding and supporting those organizations that are directly engaging children to rebuild their own lives and to rebuild the community as a whole. “We fundamentally believe that the only way to break the cycle of violence for these children is to engage them,” Sarram said. “No one can do it for them. They have to do it themselves.”
Sarram is thrilled to be working with another Iranian American who has devoted his time and energy to this effort. Reza Sayah, CNN International correspondent, serves on the Board of Directors of the Blossom Hill Foundation and he also believes that together we can make a significant difference in the lives of children of war.
Sarram expressed to PAAIA her sincere hope that the Iranian American community will come together, as is has on many other issues, to seriously address the issue of child victims of war.
“We are literally 7 billion people sharing a planet. We should all be outraged that today, over one billion children worldwide live in areas of conflict, or are emerging from war. The cycle of violence needs to end.”
To learn more about the Blossom Hill Foundation and how you can help, click here.