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Diverse group of young advocates smile and hold up peace signs in front of FCNL office

At the inaugural Diaspora Organizer Gathering at Friends Place on Capitol Hill this fall, I spent four transformative days sharing, learning, and connecting with organizers from across the country. They were all there from different diaspora—communities who have been dispersed from their homelands—and came from different activist backgrounds.

We gathered in Washington, D.C., to learn new skills and advocate for the world we seek. Over several days, we explored concepts of resilience, solidarity, and the beauty of forming intrinsic community connections across land and time. It was a moving, intentional experience.

Woman Smiles and walks out of Quaker Welcome Center

The 11 people in our cohort represented a wise, experienced, and diverse group of organizers. They included community builders, refugee resettlement volunteers, student organizers, and advanced academics. They shared connections to diaspora communities from Niger, Bhutan, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, and Iran.

During our time together, the group kindled a deep and shared understanding of what “diaspora” meant—not just for themselves and their communities but also as a seed for blooming solidarity across borders, ethnicities, and religions.

We met just days after the war in Israel and Gaza began, and we were gathered in a state of endemic grief, never for a moment forgetting the violence occurring at the same time we were together. All that grief can hold your heart and soul in a state of motionless shock. But the resilience we witnessed among Palestinian people spurred our own purposeful action.

Putting Our Advocacy Training into Action to Lobby for a Ceasefire

two people discuss policy in the Quaker welcome Center

Having recently led more than 70 national organizations in a letter calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, FCNL’s lobbyists and program assistants provided our group with a framework for our advocacy on Capitol Hill. The organizers used these tools to plan their lobby visits, identify a clear legislative ask for members of Congress, and solidify community action plans to sustain long-term organizing work in their home communities. The FCNL staff also offered support in shaping strategic steps for the group’s broad vision.

The cohort also heard from excellent speakers who joined us in person from across the country and virtually from across the world. The inspiring dialogues enabled our organizers to connect the dots between the importance of impacting federal foreign policy decisions and their critical organizing on issues their local communities face.

Diverse Backgrounds, Common Goals

What emerged from our gathering was a strong sense of connection. Solidarity is beautiful, inevitable, and supersedes borders. People who have been oppressed and exploited, who have experienced violence and occupation, will never fail to realize the connections between their struggles.

Allyship is rooted in solidarity. FCNL’s mission to realize the world we seek is no different.

In 2023, FCNL’s Advocacy Teams spent a whole year building congressional support for investments in peacebuilding. In 2024, the teams will continue advancing peace by advocating to reduce Pentagon spending. Both of these efforts recognize how violence can be interrupted through our advocacy for peace with justice.

Two advocates walk the halls of Congress

The Diaspora Organizer Gathering and our rainbow cohort gave me hope. As we lobbied members of Congress to support a ceasefire in Israel-Palestine, I took inspiration from the strength of those living through unspeakable violence in Gaza. If they can persevere, we, too, must continue our advocacy from our position within the war machine here.

The transformative potential of FCNL working alongside impacted communities like these diaspora organizers is real. We can further this work together and build the beautiful, flourishing, equitable World We Seek.

A world free of war and the threat of war.

A society with equity and justice for all.

A community where every person’s potential may be fulfilled.

An earth restored.

Hadiya Afzal

Hadiya Afzal

Diaspora Engagement and Partnership Organizer

Hadiya Afzal serves as part of FCNL’s strategic advocacy team as the diaspora engagement and partnerships organizer.