Founded in 2014 by Jennifer MacDonald and Vanessa Bell, HADAYA is a grass-roots organization that works to bring joy to displaced refugee children worldwide by providing toys, books, art supplies, and educational opportunities. We believe this ‘lost generation’ deserves opportunities to experience moments of joy and fun, and that these moments are invaluable to a child’s overall health, development and well-being. In January 2017 they also introduced a new ‘micro-grant’ program – seed money for self-supporting and self-sustaining small businesses – typically for displaced single mothers with families to feed and support.
Vanessa Bell is also a mother and passionate about bringing a little joy and light to these ‘forgotten’ children.
As co-curator and designer of (DIS)PLACED: Life As A Tent City Refugee – an exhibit exploring and informing on the Syrian refugee crisis – she was instrumental in conceiving and compiling the visual story. With a background in graphic design she has an experienced and discerning eye for all things creative.
As an independent business and marketing consultant, she also manages a number of businesses with the dexterity of a plate-spinner. Outside of this particular collaboration, she is an artist in her own right, with photography and mixed media art displayed in several galleries.
Jennifer MacDonald is a teacher, mother, polyglot, award-winning filmmaker and world traveler. She had the inspiration to start Hadaya in the summer of 2014 on one of her annual trips to the Middle East, after spending several days with refugee kids in the Beka’a Valley gathering material to create the exhibit (DIS)PLACED: Life as a Tent City Refugee.
She currently teaches and lectures about the culture and history of the Middle East and has started the first basic Arabic program for High School students in the American South, with an emphasis on cross-cultural connection and discovery. She is the owner and primary baker at Habibi Baklava, enjoys cooking, kids and culture and still loves to play.