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April 2018: PULITZER PRIZE: This is kind of crazy, but I just learned that I won the Pulitzer Prize — along with my friend and illustrator, Michael Solan — for our comic, Welcome to the New World. The comic followed the true story of a family of Syrian refugees, who landed in the U.S. on Election Day. Michael and I are both kind of in shock at this news. We’re so grateful to so many people — most of all the two remarkable families who let us chronicle their lives.

As you may know, I’ve spent the last few years writing about refugees.  It’s a subject dear to my heart.  I have several holocaust-survivors in my family; and I married a Polish immigrant, who experienced the hardships of communism first-hand. 

The subjects of my comic – Jamil & Ammar’s families – were lucky to escape the Syrian Civil War with their lives.  But they paid a huge price.  Jamil and Ammar were both tortured.  Their homes were destroyed.  Their old lives were lost.  They are now struggling to make their way in U.S.  It hasn’t been easy.  Jamil just had emergency back surgery to fix his injuries.  Ammar’s family was relocated to a small town in Connecticut and, while here, they received a death threat, which ultimately forced them to leave town.

The truth is, there are so many other families – like Jamil & Ammar’s – who need help even more urgently.  If you were moved by any of my stories, you can help.  Sometimes when we give money to a charity it feels so impersonal.  We wonder reasonably: Will this money be used well and will it even make a difference?  That’s why I am writing this post.  Here are three wonderful places that you can support and make a difference. 

The first place is IRIS.  This is the refugee re-settlement agency that helped Jamil & Ammar settle in the United States.  It is run by a generous, charismatic and devoted staff.  They get their support from small donors.  Here is the link to the website.

The second place is in my hometown of Buffalo.  I am a proud native of Buffalo – as most of you all know – and I wrote a long story for the New Yorker about a place called Vive that helps political asylum seekers.  You can click here to read that article.  This place is a tribute to Buffalo.  It has helped 40,000 political asylum seeker over the last few decades.  They too need our support to survive.  Here is the link to their website.

The third is HIAS.  This is the agency that helped my family after World War 2 and they still do wonderful work.  Click here to visit HIAS.

These are challenging times for a great many people – folks like Jamil & Ammar – who just want the same thing that all of us want, safety, a better life for their kids, and a shot at a bit of happiness.

With gratitude -- Jake   


 

 

 

 

 

They came from Syria and arrived on Election Day...
Follow my graphic narrative in the New York Times...