A Birthday Party with a Good Cause

A Birthday Party with a Good Cause
Courtesy Photo Hamsa Newmark, Fayetteville resident and founder of Bridge of Peace Syria, will be celebrating her 70th birthday this month.

Courtesy Photo
Hamsa Newmark, Fayetteville resident and founder of Bridge of Peace Syria, will be celebrating her 70th birthday this month.

Hamsa Newmark, a long-time Fayetteville resident will celebrate her 70th birthday on Saturday, Dec. 27. On that day there will be a celebration at Teatro Scarpino, 329 N. West Avenue from 7 to 10 p.m. Hamsa’s wish is that the celebration serves to benefit her non-profit organization, Bridge of Peace Syria (BOPS), which can be found online at www.bridgeofpeacesyria.wordpress.com.

The public is invited to attend. The birthday lineup includes musicians Rochelle Bradshaw and Hypnotion, Still on the Hill, Geoff and Leslie Oelsner, Adam Cox, Susan Shore and Michael Cockram. Poetry will fill the air featuring Doug Shields, Michael Heffernan, and Moshe Newmark.

Donations to Bridge of Peace Syria are requested but are not required to enjoy the musical merrymaking, with a cash bar and birthday cake.

Known as one of the best yoga instructors in Fayetteville, Hamsa has guided many individuals on the path to a more healthy way of living. She is a macrobiotic cooking instructor, mother to three sons, grandmother to three granddaughters and co-business founder and owner of Nature’s Water. Hamsa is also known as a champion of peace and justice, having devoted much of her time and energy to a host of environmental, social justice and educational projects throughout Northwest Arkansas and the world.

Living and working in Fayetteville since 1982, Hamsa’s work in the local and international peace community has a long history beginning with her childhood. Born in Germany, during some of the worst allied air attacks of World War II, she recalls post-war East Germany.

“My mother and grandmother, both war widows, struggled to keep us four children alive and fed,” she said.

From the ravages of the WW II and then the post war politics, she acutely empathizes with the horrors that war can visit upon children in particular.

Hamsa and her husband Moshe founded Puente de Paz or Bridge of Peace in 1987. They did so to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Central America fostered by the Contra War that displaced many thousands of people in Nicaragua. BOP financed and helped supervise the building of potable water systems, a widespread vaccine immunization program and the building of a school.

Bridge of Peace is now Bridge of Peace Syria dedicating their efforts to providing financial support to help Syrian refugees, primarily children with food and basic survival essentials.

“The politics surrounding Syria are so complicated,” Hamsa said. “Feeling helpless, I decided that at least one small thing that could be done was to find some way to provide direct relief to some of the Syrian children.”

As a result of Hamsa’s decision and a lot of networking with people in Arkansas and internationally, thousands of dollars have been raised. Last month a truckload of 300 thick blankets and 275 warm jackets, funded by BOPS, arrived at the Al Waleed Refugee Camp in northern Syria.

With temperatures dropping to below freezing, families there are also in need of shoes and more food supplies. Delivering these will be part of the continued efforts of Hamsa and BOPS.

“It seems that much of the world has turned its back on Syria, deciding things are too complicated, too politically messed up to understand or to even visualize a hopeful future for those people who remained behind,” said Burnetta Hinterthuer, a contributor to Bridge of Peace Syria. “Hamsa and Moshe are doing something. I am so glad to be able to donate money that I know will reach people in the refugee camps who are so needy. It is a direct way to make a difference in the life of Syrian children. Perhaps my contributions will not go that far; if they help just one individual and provide an iota of hope, then I feel my money has not been in vain.”

Donations may be made online to Bridge of Peace Syria by visiting bit.ly/BOPSyriaDonate or by check to PO Box 3133 Fayetteville, AR 72702.

Categories: Family Friendly