The Habiba Chaouch Foundation
Habiba Chaouch PortriatHabiba Chaouch 1932-1991

Foundation Begins 23rd Year

By Sue Nelson

We were sitting in a small cafe in Zarzis, Tunisia just a stone's throw from the Libyan border. It was January, 1989 barely a week after the U.S. had bombed Libya. My daughter, Alanna, then a Fulbright Scholar doing research in Tunisia, and I were the only non-Arab folks in the cafe. It was soon apparent that we were noticed.

For a while we continued sipping our sodas trying to ignore the commotion we were generating, hoping we would soon be viewed as the thirsty travelers we were. Finally, when the agitation reached a crescendo, we realized that the people in the cafe were afraid of us.

Afraid of us?

With this new information we picked up our belongings and left the cafe astonished that two pacifists would be viewed in such a light. Where we had visited and the people knew us, we had always been well received. Yet the people did not know us. Many of the customers in the cafe were Libyans. Their country had just been bombed. I do not believe in weapons for any reason, but they didn’t know that. They only knew Americans had bombed them and that we were Americans.

This experience made a major impact on the formation of the Habiba Chaouch Foundation. In reality, we know Americans make the same unreasonable assumptions about Arabs that the people in the cafe made about us.

The late Habiba Chaouch was a Tunisian woman who opened both her home and her heart to Americans. At the time of her death (1991) we were searching for an organizational name. With the permission and support of her family we christened this organization as the Habiba Chaouch Foundation.

As we leap into our 23rd year of outreach and dialogue as the Habiba Chaouch Foundation, we hope you agree about the value of education in learning about other cultures and respecting the diversity of all people.

Since the foundation was created, we have helped to give information to Americans and when traveling, we have opened the dialogue to the people on the other side of the world.

Join us in our quest to bring information to Americans and open the dialogue with Arabs across the world.

The Habiba Chaouch Foundation is incorporated in the state of Wisconsin (U.S.A.) in 1991 and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization under federal law. Our purpose is to further international understanding between Americans and Arabs.

Contributions are encouraged to support the foundation's goals. Checks should be made out to the Habiba Chaouch Foundation and mailed to2424 Andre Ave, Janesville, WI 53545. E-mail by clicking here. Your contribution is tax deductible to the extent provided by law.

Mourad Chaouch photograph

People To People:
An lmperative

For Arabs...

By Mourad Chaouch

Having grown up in an Arab country and as a U.S citizen now living in the United States for several years, I have witnessed the misunderstandings and prejudices of both cultures toward each other. Ignorance of the other culture is a main factor contributing to prejudice, fear, racism and, eventually, aggression.

The Habiba Chaouch Foundation will be a bridge of communication between the people of the Arab world and the United States. As more and more experience the lifestyle, the values and the open minds of the Arab culture, the prejudices will slowly disappear. Participants in the Habiba Chaouch Foundation programs will be true ambassadors of peace.I

For Americans...

By Sue Nelson

Each day the world becomes increasingly complex while the needs of the world's population become permanently interdependent. Yet we still function in an “us versus them” mode. People fear what they do not know. The fear translates into hate while our growing interdependency translates into a necessity for knowledge.

In the Apology, Socrates describes wisdom as a state of understanding how much we do not know.

The Habiba Chaouch Foundation is here to fill the void of understanding about the Arab people. Join us as we reach out to Americans through our display and resources or our books to the libraries program.

Habiba Chaouch, the woman for whom the foundation is named, exemplified the spirit of the Arab people. She was loyal to her culture, but open, loving and caring to Americans who came into her life.

In the spirit of Habiba (Tunisian for “dear”), we are opening a dialogue of hope to break the barriers of hate and hopelessness between Americans and Arabs. From communities learning about “Arab Contributions to the World" and experiencing “A Taste of the Middle East,” to understanding the “struggles of hope” of the Arab people, Americans can become a part of the healing process. Please support the Habiba Foundation’s efforts to link up with the compassion, generosity and openness of Arab people.

Habiba Chaouch Foundation
Board of Directors

Mourad Chaouch —Melrose, Mass., He is a biomedical engineer.

Alanna Nelson —Melrose, Mass., is a former Fulbright Scholar in Tunisia who did research in environmental planning. She is now involved in fabric art.

Amy Nelson—is a school social worker who lives in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

Gordy Nelson—Janesville, Wisconsin, is a retired teacher and is actively involved in the Foundation’s work.

Sue Nelson —Janesville, Wisconsin, has always been an activist. She has directed the Habiba Foundation since its inception.

Jennifer Olson —West Lafayette, Indiana. Jennifer was a lively volunteer as a student at Beloit College where she studied Arabic. She also studied one semester in Jordan

Patrick Weeden —Madison, Wisconsin, is our technical support person. He works in publishing and public relations.

E-mail any of the Habiba Chaouch Foundation board members by clicking here.