Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Janan Collection Raises Funds for Iraqi Women Artists

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Janan Collection Raises Funds for Iraqi Women Artists

Article excerpt

Three years ago Major Ty Nguyen-Reed, one of a handful of Vietnamese-American female officers serving in the Army, and her sister Teresa Nguyen launched Janan Collection, a non-profit organization to promote and preserve Iraqi artistic tradition and to employ and empower Iraqi women. Janan Collection art was on display April 16 at the Deep Ellum Art Walk, a community art exhibition in Dallas, Texas.

The sisters spoke about Janan and described how it started. During her three tours in Iraq, Nguyen-Reed developed district-wide summer soccer tournaments for 10,000 youths and established vocational training projects for women. One day, in the latter part of her last tour, she recalled, she met Fatimah, who'd lost her husband in the war and had two children to support. "She approached me because I was the only female in the group," Nguyen-Reed said. "She said, 'Can you help me support my family? You guys are going to leave one day and I don't want to depend on these handouts.'"

Fatimah came back with paintings she and her friends had made. "We were like wow, these are good, how can we help them?" explained Nguyen-Reed.

"We not only want to sell the art and provide income for them, but we also want to tell their stories. That's very important to them," her sister added. "This is the reason we went with the name Janan, which means heart or soul in Arabic. We are doing this from our heart, just as the women are painting these pictures from their heart and their soul. …

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