Press Release: Announcing


Afghan-American Peace Activist / Blogger joins Leader in
Neighborhood-Centered Rebuilding

SAN MATEO, CA – June 28, 2013 - Rebuilding Alliance, an American nonprofit dedicated to rebuilding war-torn communities and making them safe, today announces the appointment of Sophia Omar to the position of Chief Executive Officer (COO).

“I am thrilled that my mentor, Sophia Omar, is bringing her insight and action-advocacy to our village-centered rebuilding,” said Donna Baranski-Walker, Founder and Executive Director of Rebuilding Alliance. “Her ability to develop education, jobs, build trust and safety will advance our rebuilding work in Palestine and open new opportunities to help in Afghanistan.”

Sophia Omar is a freelance writer and blogger for the silent majority of Afghanistan.  She was the owner/chef of the popular Sophia’s Café in Palo Alto CA.  Two months after 9/11, Omar returned to her native Afghanistan, ending her 23-year exile.   She used her own money to start a 2-room medical clinic in Kabul and, with help from Rotary International, CURE, and Assist International, built it into what is now the largest teaching hospital in the country. Her integrity and ability to achieve goals is a key reason why Omar is the first woman ever chosen by the people of Afghanistan to participate in the Loya Jirga, a  “Grand Council” called in 2010 to press for peace talks.   Omar is a member of the National Peace Council for Afghanistan.

“We believe that Sophia and Donna (the Executive Director) represent an unrivaled leadership team,” said Rebuilding Alliance Board Chair, Dina Saba. “Together, they will extend Rebuilding Alliance’s innovative construction solutions to more neighborhoods at risk of displacement and demolition, and engage U.S. citizens and Congress to keep those neighborhood standing.”

In Afghanistan, Omar was the youngest Director of Foreign Relations Department of the Ministry of Public Works and worked with Habitat for Humanity to rebuild homes for 200 residents of Samangan following an earthquake. Shortly after the Soviet invasion and regime change in 1979, she was placed under house arrest and eventually escaped with her family to the U.S.   During this time, Donna took a year abroad from MIT, to study in Poland and learned about the Solidarity Movement first-hand. She formed Rebuilding Alliance in 2003, helping war-torn communities to recover by rebuilding their infrastructure.  In 2010 Donna was awarded a Medal of Gratitude before 27,000 people at the Gdansk Shipyard in Poland for her work in support of Solidarity when martial law was declared.

“This is the time for citizens here in the U.S. to press our government for peace,” said Omar, “as we work to guarantee the fundamental human right to a home, education, and work – something that will give us all hope and a solid future, both here and overseas.”


Rebuilding Alliance (RA), a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in San Mateo CA, is dedicated to rebuilding

war-torn communities and making them safe. RA’s life affirming vision is a just and enduring peace in Israel and Palestine founded upon equal value, security, and opportunity for all.  RA pioneered a village-centered rebuilding model that focuses on the building of kindergartens, playgrounds and homes including the establishment of a crowd source revolving mortgage fund to finance home construction when banks won’t. Rebuilding Alliance won the Bonus Day competition in March and is launching a new program, a U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages, to assure the 149 Palestinian Villages under demolition order their right to exist. For more information,

“In order to do something big — to think globally and act globally — one starts with something small and one starts where it counts.”

– Oxford Prof. Nabeel Hamdi




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