Coral Gables High senior Maya Iskandarani visited Lebanon to see family and also help Syrian refugees. She and her brother had clothing to donate to families displaced by the war in Syria. “We collected clothes in Miami and shipped them over there,” she said.
“We did everything through an NGO called Danish Refugee Council (DRC).”
Iskandarani researched the organization and met a representative though a family member. She needed to do a service project as required by the International Baccalaureate program at Gables.
When they went to Lebanon, they drove around the shantytowns and tent camps where the refugees live.
“We knew the names of the families. They were the ones in greatest need,” she said. “We mostly gave away children’s clothes.”
She doesn’t speak Arabic so she couldn’t understand everything the recipients said, but she understood their emotions.
“Sometimes you don’t need words. At one time, a woman started crying,” Iskandarani said. “Her husband had been detained and was in prison. And she was devastated.” She said the refugees they dealt with were obviously educated and their ethnicity was being held against them.
“There they are struggling for survival,” she said.
While grateful the trip was productive, Iskandarani said it was heartbreaking they couldn’t do more. When she came back, she made plans to try to involve the IB Honor Society, which hosts the Bridge for Peace fundraiser.
“We change causes every year. In the past we have built schools in Haiti and Jamaica,” she said.
She will make the case for raising money to help the DRC.
Iskandarani is a swimmer and competes for the school and the Miami Swimming Club team. She is the news editor of Highlights, the news magazine. Before that she was a writer for two years.
She is a vice president of Gables Earth, the environmental club and president of IBHS.
For college, she has applied to Stanford and Pomona, Duke, the University of Miami, New College of Florida, Wellesley and Brown University.
Her major will be either biology or marine science.
— Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld