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2024 Student Peace Award of Fairfax County

Senior Jenna Naffa was one of 27 recipients of a 2024 Student Peace Award of Fairfax County honored at a reception on March 10. Rep. Gerry Connolly introduced a Resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives listing all the recipients and recognizing them as “active in promoting peace or removing the causes of conflict.”
Jenna says that her Palestinian roots instilled in her a deep compassion for the human condition; in particular, for the plight of under-resourced women. This motivated Jenna to initiate and complete a pilot program that provided 150 hygiene kits to women in need at two local shelters and to the Al Amal Center in Amman, Jordan. The hygiene kits included soap, shampoo, conditioner, band-aids, hand sanitizer, toothbrush/toothpaste, and women's sanitary napkins.

Jenna remembers that her parents always emphasized the value of giving back to one’s community and how “even small acts of kindness can make a big difference.” As a freshman, these values motivated her to take action and volunteer at Brigade-of-Mercy, a local nonprofit that provides immediate relief to those who have limited or no access to health-promoting resources and that serves people of all races, nationalities, religions, and genders. Its motto is: “Helping to alleviate the burden of poverty by changing one life at a time.”

Jenna explains that through her work at Brigade-of-Mercy she became aware that everyday hygiene products often were not included in the relief packages provided to local shelters. “As I looked further into this, I was appalled to learn that worldwide, due mainly to cost barriers, around 500 million women are deprived access to hygiene products. Toward the end of my junior year, I was determined to find a way to provide sheltered women and children with access to these common hygiene products and approached my KAA advisor with the idea of starting an initiative to create and distribute hygiene kits to local women in need. I also reached out to Ambreen Rizvi, the founder of Brigade-of-Mercy, for practical advice. Ms. Rizvi was immediately supportive of my initiative and suggested that I set up a fundraiser using Brigade’s website. In discussing the scope of the initiative, we decided to initially prepare 150 hygiene kits as an achievable goal.”

Working through the summer and into her senior year, Jenna raised $1200 to fund the project by spreading the word on Instagram, distributing flyers throughout the local community, and with an online fundraiser. She obtained the hygiene products needed at a much-discounted cost through vendors with whom Brigade-of-Mercy had previously worked. These vendors generously assumed an advisory role to ensure proper procedures for handling and distributing the products. Finally, Jenna hosted an event to assemble the hygiene kits. This event brought together KAA students, friends, and family to “give back” to the community collectively.

Jenna spent long hours and many weeks planning and executing the hygiene-kit initiative, but she is grateful for the unflagging support of Ms. Rizvi and Brigade advisors, “without whom I would not have been able to bring it to completion.  I plan to continue this work and am considering how it can be expanded to women in Gaza and in refugee camps. As a Palestinian, my desire for the peace and well-being of all my people is of foremost importance.”
    • In the photo, Jenna is flanked (left to right) by Fairfax County School Board members Ryan McElveen, Sandy Anderson, Robyn Lady, and Karl Frisch.  On the right is US Rep. Gerry Connolly.

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