Thursday, August 25, 2011


Additional Hearing Missions to the Middle East with the goal of donating up to 1,000 hearing aids in the next 12 months

For Immediate Release

NORTHRIDGE, California (August 25, 2011) – The ALO Cultural Foundation’s Medical Treatment Empowerment Programs continue to support local and international charities through humanitarian partnerships to identify children in need of medical relief with special circumstances in the Middle East and the United States. The Foundation is proud to announce the extension of its Forever Wish initiative in collaboration with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which has a mission that includes providing the gift of hearing to those in need around the world.

The organizations have been exploring options to provide additional hearing missions to the Middle East, enabling even greater collaboration between the two foundations. The ALO Cultural Foundation, one of the most progressive grassroots, cross-cultural awareness charities in the United States and the Middle East, and the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which delivers more than 100,000 hearing aids annually through more than 100 hearing missions a year in countries stretching from the U.S. to Vietnam, will continue cooperating to provide the gift of hearing for the underprivileged in the Middle East.

As part of the continued efforts to reach out to underserved global communities, the two foundations successfully worked together during the ALO Cultural Foundation’s mission toLebanon. As a result, ALO founder Wafa Kanan arranged a special medical mission for Hussein Balhas to the United States. Hussein is a child with Frasier Syndrome (physical abnormalities to face and body). During the mission – possible in part through the generosity of several participating physicians and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s International Children's Surgery Fund – it was discovered that Hussein’s hearing aids could not satisfy his need for hearing instruments with simplified controls and appropriate amplification. The Starkey Hearing Foundation was able to provide a custom, quality hearing solution for Hussein. This effort enabled the ALO Foundation to enhance Hussein’s quality of life, empowering Hussein’s social interaction, education, comprehension ability and attentiveness, in addition to increasing the awareness and mission for both organizations to implement a support system for hearing aids in the region.

Since then, the Foundation has assumed the responsibility of providing lifetime support for Hussein, making it possible for him to progress. Starkey’s Middle East International Territory Manager, Giscard Bechara, checks in with Hussein regularly, reporting that Hussein has adapted very well to his new receiver-in-canal (RIC) devices. Embracing ALO’s mission to educate, empower and enlighten those in need, the organizations are exploring ways to expand their collaboration with the goal of donating up to 1,000 hearing aids in the next 12 months.

“As the partnership with the Starkey Foundation continues to grow, the underprivileged, hearing-impaired children of the Middle East will have access to a more promising future through our Forever Wish program,” says Kanan. “We are committed to delivering quality education, increased technical skills and emotional empowerment to physically challenged children - despite the deterrents of poverty, illiteracy and neglect. This fits perfectly with the spirit of the Starkey hearing Foundation.”

“It’s important for us to help the children because they’re the future of the world – and if we neglect the children, we diminish our future,” says Bill Austin, Founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. This partnership will enable both organizations to increasingly share capabilities – Starkey with hearing aids and ALO with developing human potential.

“Auditory perception is essential to language development and proficiency; people with hearing deficits are at a disadvantage and face enormous obstacles in life. Removing these barriers makes it possible for individuals to realize their potential and become productive members of their respective societies. From the moment his life began, Hussein confronted a multitude of complex challenges, but due to the collaboration of many individuals, his undaunted, beautiful spirit remains valiant. ALO is very proud to be a part of his victorious effort,” says Kanan.

Backed by a decade of philanthropic work, the ALO Cultural Foundation was founded to build stronger, healthier communities through social investment. The Foundation focuses on community outreach, education and empowerment programs for women, youth mentoring in theU.S. and other forms of assistance to disadvantaged communities worldwide. Through its various initiatives, such as its support of orphanages in Egypt and other surrounded countries, ALO aims to promote cultural understanding and to advocate for social change. The Foundation provides myriad educational opportunities that empower those with a thirst for life, the chance for a lifetime of learning and personal fulfillment.

About the ALO Cultural Foundation

The Foundation’s mission is to educate, empower and enlighten members of disadvantaged global communities, with special emphasis on the U.S. and the Middle East. ALO seeks to heal gaps in cultural understanding while impacting the quality of life of everyone they encounter. Through good will expeditions to the Middle East, special events and philanthropy, the Foundation offers their devotion and loyalty to the most vulnerable: women and children who require guidance during their first tenuous steps toward self sufficiency. Their programs instill the confidence necessary to transform lives and build brighter futures. ALO stands for this primary, basic tenet - that humanity has no nationality – that the ways we are all alike far out-number our differences. Key to raising our common awareness is through person-to-person contact, engagement designed to break through arbitrary geo-political boundaries and damaging stereotypes.


About The Starkey Hearing Foundation

The Starkey Hearing Foundation is striving to change the social consciousness of hearing and hearing loss prevention. Hearing loss affects one in 10 Americans, and 63 million children worldwide, yet many do not have access to the hearing devices that can help correct that disability. The Foundation has a yearly goal of giving more than 100,000 hearing aids through hearing missions in countries stretching from the U.S. to Vietnam. Since 2000, the Foundation has supplied nearly 498,000 hearing aids to people in need and is striving to achieve its goal of distributing over one million free hearing aids in this decade.

For more information on the Starkey Hearing Foundation, including the Listen Carefully campaign, visit

Monday, August 8, 2011

ADVISORY: Developing a sharper image of Middle Eastern Americans


ALO Cultural Foundation presents
Expanding Perspectives
Developing a sharper image of Middle Eastern Americans

Co-hosted by
Hon. LeRoy D. Baca, Los Angeles County Sheriff
ALO Magazine, America’s Top Middle Eastern Lifestyle Magazine

LeRoy D. Baca, Los Angeles County Sheriff
Wafa Kanan, Publisher of ALO Magazine and Founder, ALO Cultural Foundation (

Invited Guests: Hon. Governor Jerry Brown of California, Octavia Nasr, CNN's Chief Middle East correspondent for 20 years; Rima Fakih, Miss USA 2010; Joseph Hayek, Publisher of the Arab-American Almanac.

“EXPANDING PERSPECTIVES: Developing a sharper image of Middle Eastern Americans”, a unique symposium brings together corporations, media, government agencies, educational institutions, and social agencies to unify cultures and promote tolerance to become a world class citizens .

Sheriff's Department Headquarters
Media Conference Room
4700 West Ramona Boulevard
Monterey Park, CA 91754
RSVPs: ALO Cultural Foundation 818/727-7785

Tuesday, October 11, 2011, 1:00 P.M.–3:00 P.M.

The ever growing population of Middle Easterners is often misunderstood. As a nation still holding onto negative stereotypes, this symposium seeks to illustrate our similarities, facilitate diversity issues through healthy and authentic cross cultural relationships. It will seek a change for misconceptions perpetuated by the media as we present opportunities to shape public policy decision-making in an emerging community while asking “How do we shorten cultural distance and promote diversity, inclusion and understanding?”

A panel of experts from the diverse landscape of the United States will be assembled for cross-cultural collaboration. Along with Sheriff Baca, Kanan—one of the foremost experts in cross-cultural tolerance and education—opens a frank and diverse discussion between an intimate gathering of cultural, media, and business leaders, and educators that will ultimately lead to a greater understanding of Middle Easterners in America.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why the silence?

At times, listening to the news or reading some of the hundreds of news releases in my inbox brings out the best in me; other times it makes me laugh at the reality of life and current affairs.

Seldom do I devote my time to the pundits, critics and anchors of today’s media world. Today was different. Today, it inspired “activist mode” in the fire of my belly. The fire inside that I choose to bury most of the time.

I’ve had my fill of all the “go-to” sources: CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, FoxNews, MSNBC and Sky News. As I observed the dialogue and communication that kept spreading around me, I wondered about the genuine intention of the speakers and their state of mind about their perception of their listeners. Do they really think people are that stupid?

When speaking of democracy, my appreciation for opinionated people grows every day. But, there’s a difference now. They are twisting the meaning of democracy. I find it disturbing to hear some of these political commentaries injecting poison in our daily life and burden my ear with talk of death, destruction, encouraging words of government overthrows and anarchy. I know I can switch the channel and chose my own desired entertainment to enjoy, but today I cannot keep the silence.

As a matter of fact, I refuse to keep silent.

Politics and religion, these are two of the world’s most intriguing, sophisticated and complicated disciplines that have ever existed. They are at once an effective climate and the fasted way to cause trouble between people and countries. They have never mixed properly and now our leaders – pushed by the world’s media – have taken us to the point of no return.

Looking from my own microscope, I find it amusing that we to chose to rally around democracy and our allies to empower our own interests and profit. We are extremely selective about when it is appropriate to bring morality and ethics into play. It seems that we are very ethical to step in when there is an oil well around the corner or a strategic country near a prime landing area for planes and weapons. When it is not in such a lucky area or the bullied doesn’t meet our exact way of thinking, we throw human rights down the drain.

Pealing back the top few layers of the onion, I wonder, for example…

…Why we view Saudi Arabia differently than Iran?

…Why we treat Israel different than Palestine?

…Why we take sides against one party of the Lebanese government knowing that this stance will keep the country in disability mode?

...Why we view Britain – a country known for millenniums as one of the most oppressive, corrupted and destructive empires in the world – as a cultured and civilized nation?

…Why history is forgotten when it is convenient and profitable.

We take a pride in our religious freedom. We each celebrate a private relationship with God. Yet we go to war to impose our religious will on other countries. We feel that we need balance all over the world instead of choosing our allies to suit right and wrong, ethics and morality. We seem to be in a mission to convert thy neighbor. We’ve become missionary activists to show others the path for what to believe in and how to believe. Witnessing religion as a subject of segregation and hatred is a shameful act.

We have challenged our creator since the beginning and instead of learning from our past mistakes we remain unappreciative of the Earth that we are responsible for its caretaking. War and the greed of men are leading us to the crisis of mankind. We must take a very close look at democracy, its leaders, our politicians and religious figures. We have a voice, so instead of being sheep shepherded blindly behind them, we need to play a major role to bring back responsibilities. We should hire only those that will be disciplined to our Mother Earth and to the morality of living a pure life.

My solution is simple:

-Demand respect and transparency from your leaders;

-Question the authority if it is not placed for the best interest of all;

-Ask for change in the economic and political environment;

-Speak up and don’t be silent. Never jeopardize your principles for profit;

-Stop segregating in groups and become a world citizen;

-Do not judge others with guilt by association;

Do it for the sake of humanity. The ancient game of thrones shall never find its way back to our 21st century and if so, we are doomed to infinity.

Humanity has no nationality. I pledge my support to this motto of being. Do you pledge yours?