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Swat Relief Initiative (SRI) strives to improve the lives of women and children in Pakistan through various initiatives in healthcare, education, economic growth and a sustainable environment. SRI empowers societies through community development, social mobilization and awareness programs to help them achieve a better quality of life.
Now more than ever, SRI needs your support. Join us to learn how you can make a positive difference! *RSVP required to attend.
Co-Chair of the South Asian American Caucus and Mercer County Director of the Muslim Caucus for the NJ Democratic State Committee is a proud Pakistani American who migrated to the United States in the late 1990s. She has a long record of public service and was elected to the Board of Education for Princeton Public Schools where she was an advocate for equity and worked to address bullying issues in the district. She was also appointed to the Princeton Human Services Commission and later to the Princeton Civil Rights Commission (CRC) where she worked to empower community members and to create a more inclusive Princeton.
In her professional capacity, Afsheen is the Director of Communications and Marketing for the Graduate School of Education (GSE) at Rutgers University. Under Afsheen’s leadership, Rutgers GSE has become nationally recognized for its excellence in communications and has won several prestigious awards for many projects that she has led. She currently serves on the board of the ACLU-NJ and is a former board member of Not In Our Town in Princeton.
She is elected as County Committeewoman to the Mercer County Democratic Committee and also serves on the Executive Board of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization. She holds an M.S. in Strategic Communications from Columbia University and a B.A. in International Studies from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Alex Kronemer has been working for peace and interfaith understanding for most of his adult life.
He was a member of the lobbying group that successfully lobbied Congress for the establishment of the current US Institute of Peace in Washington, DC. Shortly after, he attended Harvard Divinity School where he studied comparative religion on his way to receiving a Masters in Theological Studies. After graduating from Harvard, he worked for two years at a refugee resettlement agency in Boston, Massachusetts, helping refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Eastern Europe find jobs and homes in the US. He became a prolific writer, publishing articles in numerous newspapers magazines, and appearing as a commentator on Islam and Religion on CNN and other networks. In the late 1990’s, he was the Middle East Desk Officer in the US State Department office of Human Rights and Democracy, helping to staff the newly formed Religious Freedom Office.
In 2000, he cofounded Unity Productions Foundation, a media and educational nonprofit dedicated to creating peace and understanding about Muslims and other religions in the world. Unity Production Foundation has gone on to produce 12 national broadcast documentaries and received numerous prestigious film accolades, including an Emmy nomination. In addition, his organization has launched dozens of interfaith and peace-making projects in the US and abroad. Unity Productions Foundation now consults with movie and television writers, advising them on how to better portray Muslims and Islam on the screen.
Among many other credits, he wrote and directed the animated film, Lamya’s Poem, about a Syrian refugee girl fleeing her country who is given a book of poetry by the famous Muslim poet Rumi. The book becomes a magical gateway where she meets Rumi when he was a boy escaping the violence of his time. In a shared dreamworld she must help him write the poem that 800 years later will save her life. Now in distribution internationally it will be available in the US early 2023.
Other Unity Production Foundation films include:
- Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet
- Prince Among Slaves
- Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World
- Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story
- The Sultan and the Saint
- The Great Muslim American Road Trip, a three part series broadcast nationally on PBS in July 2022 In these divisive times his call to us is to commit to making peace happen.
Presentation by Swat Relief Initiative Founder and President, Zebu Jilani
President, Swat Relief Initiative
Zebu Jilani is President and founder of Swat Relief Initiative. Swat Relief Initiative strives to improve the lives of women and children in Pakistan through healthcare, education, economic empowerment and a sustainable environment.
Zebu Jilani’s educational background is in dietetics, preventive medicine, acupressure and Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has created a comprehensive health and nutrition seminar to help women and children in rural Swat take concrete steps to improve their health and prevent disease.
Zebu is the granddaughter of the last Wali (Ruler) of Swat, who is renowned as a pioneer in rural development in Pakistan. The Wali established hundreds of schools, hospitals and clinics as well as modern roads and communication systems in Swat.
Zebu Jilani has been a guest speaker at American University in Washington DC, The Gender and Education Symposium sponsored by CIES Montreal, the 2016 Rotary International Assembly in San Diego and The American Psychiatric Association annual meeting. She has attended the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue with Hillary Clinton (US Secretary of State) and Eric P. Schwartz (US Assistant Secretary of State for Refugees).
Meral Guneyman, is a world class pianist and Steinway Artist. She trained at the Istanbul Conservatory in her native country, Turkey, the Mozarteum Academy in Salzburg and finally the Juilliard School where she was a two time winner of the Maria Guerra Judelson award.
Her Carnegie Hall debut was as winner of East&West Artists International Competition. Her accolades further include first prize in Juilliard School’s Chopin Concerto Competition and Naumburg Competition finalist, which, once again, brought her to Carnegie Hall. As co-winner of William Kapell International Competition at the University of Maryland, she performed with Leon Fleisher and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Meral has also performed in numerous music festivals and universities around the world.
In her capacity as performer and educator, throughout her life, Meral has worked to raise money for many charity organizations, included amongst them are :”Save the Children Fund, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Educate at Risk Orphans campaign, including a Memorial Concert in the name of Arshad Jilani to raise money for Swat Relief Initiative.
Pasha Ahmad has been a friend of SRI and a close friend of the Jilani family for years. He went to MIT where he befriended Arshad Jilani in the seventies. He has followed and participated in the valuable work of SRI in education and community development with a visit to Swat and one of its schools this year. He sponsored an essay competition among the students at SRI this year. Pasha lives in Cleveland with his wife Tasneem and daughter, Dr. Erum Ahmad
Fawad Ali is from Islampur, Swat. He has done his masters in Physics and Education. He has been working with SRI since 2014, as a Principal of SRI Model School for 7 years. He now works as the Supervisor of SRI’s Girls’ Middle and High School in Islampur. Fawad is an activist in his community and has worked tirelessly to promote girls’ education in his village, where childhood marriages are very prevalent.
Fawad has used SRI Model School as a perfect platform to utilize his energy for achieving his aim to educate girls.
Muhammad Ali is the Founder and Director of Khpal Kor Foundation, a boarding school for poor orphans in Swat. Muhammad Ali has been a Board Member and Chief Monitoring Office for SRI since 2010. He has recently taken the role of Executive Director and General Secretary for SRI.
Muhammad Ali has been an activist and a philanthropist since he was a teenager. He has gotten numerous awards for his work. Some of his awards include the gold medal from President of Pakistan as the best Scout in Pakistan in 1997. The Quaid i Azam Scouts award from the Governor of NWFP for being the best Scout in 1986. He was awarded the Ashoka Fellowship Award in 2005, and he was also awarded the honor of being the best Social Worker by the Chief Minister of NWFP in 1998.