What Do You Do When A Little Child Waits on You for his Rice, Chicken, A Soccer Ball and more...
You Don't Look The Other Way - You Step Up And Take Care of Him
“(The righteous are those) who feed the poor, the orphan and the captive for the love of God, saying: ‘We feed you for the sake of God Alone; we seek from you neither reward nor thanks.” – Quran, 76:8-9
Assalamu Alaikum Dear family,
In this blessed month of Ramadan, I want to remind you about the poor and needy children and families that live on the westside of Columbus. There are hundreds of orphans, refugees and absolutely needy children that we serve through several programs.
You might think that they are better off than the children in the third world countries, but let me tell you that it might not be true. Until I started working on the westside of Columbus, I never imagined that I would see a child without food, without shoes or without a shirt or proper clothes in Columbus. I never imagined that I would see people looking for food and clothes in dumpsters. But I have seen this and more. I have seen the most deprived and needy children just 12 miles away from my home in Hilliard. Each time I go in the neighborhood, I end up crying right there or later in the night. I get depressed, but then I get hope and I focus on what we have done for them so far and what we could still do. Indeed, the plight and misery of these children is a sad reality, but the change that MY Project USA has brought in their lives and community already is the start of a happy ending, inshaAllah.
Earlier in Ramadan, one day at the end of our hot meal distribution in the Wedgewood neighborhood, I noticed a little boy with big sad eyes following Samira, our distribution team lead. I asked Samira why he was following her. She said, "unfortunately we ran out of food right before his building and he didn't get a box today. I am gonna make sure that he will get the first box tomorrow." I felt very sad at the moment and had also comforted him that we would get him a special box the next day. Thanks to you, family, that we were able to deliver his rice and chicken the next day. We are also preparing to get him Eid toys and Eid clothes during our "Eid Open House For Refugee Families" event.
But what if there were no MY Iftaar Kitchen, no My Project USA, no Samira or Zerqa to take care of him, no community members to cook for him. Where would he go? Who would he turn to? Most probably a gangster, a pimp or some other criminals who would buy him free food, clothes, a soccer ball and other stuff in exchange of his loyalty to him. In fact, it’s not a theory anymore. It happens more often. Many children in the Wedgewood neighborhood that were desperate for good food, clothes, toys, and sometimes just for little attention have already joined gangs and are doing drugs.
That’s why, the work we do is so crucial for the sake of our children and the community. That’s why, we are not only appreciated by the community members but also by the Mayor of Columbus, the Columbus City Council and so many other highly prestigious organizations and agencies that are now becoming our official partners in our work. Indeed, I am seeing the results every single day.
Three weeks ago a woman came in my office at MY Deah's to share with me that she and her mother did not have salad and fruits for a very long time, but now because of MY Project USA, they are having fruits and salad every week. She said that she and her mother make dua for MY Project USA, its volunteers and donors everyday.
Another woman a while ago started crying and wrapped her arms around me tightly when I gave her a check to pay her utility to avoid eviction. While sobbing she said nobody had ever done something like this for her before and for the first time she felt she had a Muslim family in Columbus. Alhamdulillah.
I can go on and on, but let's focus on the action items for now. Nothing else seems more important than securing enough funding to sustain and grow the project now.
As our Ramadan campaign is on its way, we are still short of $25,420 to cover the rent, utilities and basic cost of MY Deah's store and MY Family Pantry. We need another $25,000 to pay the salary of a much needed program coordinator. Please see the picture below for the breakdown. From the last week’s fundraiser and the crowdfunding we have raised only $31,720 so far.
Dear family, from the depth of my heart and the utmost sincerity and pain that I can share with you in words, I implore you that please step up and let your kindness and humanity benefit these children whose parents do not have enough resources to provide good stuff for them and they need your help.
May Allah SWT immensely reward you for the rest of your life and in the hereafter for your immediate help in this regard. May He protect and empower each one of your children and loved ones as you have helped save so many unfortunate youth and their parents.
In Solidarity with Youth & Families,
Yours Sister Zerqa Abid,
Founder & Executive Director
MY Project USA
Where Your Money Would GO
The proceeds of this campaign will help sustain, empower and protect the Refugees, Orphans and Needy in Columbus, Ohio. It will help prevent and stop drugs, gangs and human trafficking (modern day slavery) , through the following programs and services:
1. MY Family Pantry & Soup Kitchen (Served 220,000 meals/snacks to 13,000 people in last 6 months)
2. MY Deah's Store (Provides clothes, shoes and household items for free or a very low price)
3. Youth Programs (Kids Club, Tutoring Program, Soccer Team, Reading Buddies, Youth Leadership Development for at least 1000 children & youth)
4. Parenting Workshops (45 workshops to improve their social and communication skills; their relationship with their children; to equip them against criminals, to help them get better jobs; to help them better educate and raise their children - Aim to help up to 300 parents)
5. ESL Classes for Parents & Youth (to educate up to 75 individuals this year)
6. Job Trainings & Employment (trained/employed 46 individuals in 2016. Aimed to train 100 individuals in 2017)
7. MY Deah's Warehouse (Used clothes, shoes & toys business modeled after Salvation Army's model to generate steady funds and employment for the community - Will train and employ up to 25 individuals)
As we are preparing to kick off our warehouse business this year, we hope to be self sufficient by the end of this year. But to get to that point we need your help. We have broken down our ask into different tiers per the priority of our project. Money collected through this campaign will be spent by the priorities set here for this year.
At the moment we have raised $31, 720, we are still short of $25,420 to cover the rent, utilities and basic cost of MY Deah's store and MY Family Pantry. We need another $25,000 to pay the salary of a much needed program coordinator. Please see the itemized breakdown below.
6 Reasons to Give Your Zakat to MY Project USA
Support Orphans, Refugees, and Needy in Columbus
MY Project USA is Zakat eligible since it falls into six of the eight categories of Zakat as commanded by Allah SWT in the following verse of Quran:
"Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler - an obligation [imposed] by Allah . And Allah is Knowing and Wise. (Quran 9:60)"
The first and second category of “poor and for the needy” applies since we are helping poor local and refugee Muslim families.
The fourth category of "bringing hearts together" applies since we serve all needy people regardless of their faith, ethnicity or race. We also work with individuals that are attracted to Islam and Muslims and prefer working with us to learn more.
The fifth category “freeing captive” applies since we are addressing human trafficking, the modern day slavery, prevention and intervention. We are specially focusing on freeing sex-slaves from their masters and then helping them in reestablishing their lives.
The sixth category of "paying the debt" applies since we take care of families, single moms and family violence victims dealing with debts and financial instability.
The seventh category “the cause of Allah” applies because we are protecting and empowering Muslim youth and families in America. Through our work we are addressing drugs, gangs, violence, suicides, radicalization, homelessness, and hunger through capacity building of the individuals and the community. Through the documentation and publicity of our work we seek to address Islamophobia as well. Our goal is to preserve Islam and Muslim community in America at its best.
According to the majority scholars, Zakat can be given to those who volunteer to fight in the cause of Allah (SWT) and do not receive a fixed salary from the government. This also applies to the operational cost/salaries of a non-profit organization like ours that fits the other categories of zakat eligibility.
Of course people can also donate from any Sadaqa funds for this cause as well.
Columbus City Council Approves a Joint Grant for MY Project USA and the Boy Scouts of America.
Program to focus on Wedgewood refugee and immigrant community
We are pleased and humbled to share this great news that the Columbus City Council has approved a joint program grant for MY Project USA and the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America to start Boy Scouts packs/troops and ventures group in Wedgewood neighborhood. Thanks to Columbus City Councilmember Michael Stinziano for his leadership for sponsoring this ordinance. Thanks to President Pro Tem Priscilla Tyson for approving it through the Health and Human Services committee.
This grant will cover the registration, uniforms, transportation, incidentals and labor in organizing up to 6 packs/troops and a couple venture groups. Please read this piece by Columbus Dispatch article for more details. for more details.
Ramadan Volunteer Opportunities - Share Your Blessings Calling on all community members
First, we want to thank you for showing your interest in supporting MY Project USA. As the only non-profit of its kind in the area, we rely solely on your efforts and contributions to the project in helping sustain and empower the youth of the Hilltop area.
We are always in need of committed volunteers, and here are some of the ways you can donate your time:
MY Family Pantry MY Family Pantry is a sub-set of MY Project USA, and works on serving fresh produce and other goods to families of low socioeconomic income in the Hilltop area. We need help every Thursday afternoon to unload and stock the goods and every Saturday morning to distribute them to families.
MY Eid Toys Drive 2017 Put smiles on the faces of the thousands of children within our refugee community on the west side and help us reach our goal of 2500 toys and 750 goody bags, God willing.
MY Iftar Kitchen Join us in this humbling experience by donating cooked food, donating money, or helping us serve the needy. We cannot reach our goal of feeding 100-200 people a day this Ramadan without your help!
Titled "Stop Slavery: Our Children Are Not for Sale", this year's fundraiser is aimed towards spreading awareness about human trafficking and raising money to support the initiatives that help and empower the targeted communities. We need volunteers to help on the day of the dinner. Please sign up.
Not Fasting This Ramadan - Feed People Through Our Pantry
Give Your Zakatul Fitr to Buy Vegetable Oil, Rice, Sugar, Pasta and Flour for Refugees and Orphans in Columbus
Send Your Zakatul Fitr by June 21st. Special Eid Pantry on June 23rd & 24th.
We plan to distribute food to more than 150 families in the last two days of Ramadan. Depending upon the donations received, in addition to fresh produce from the Food Bank, this Eid pantry would include rice, sugar, flour, pasta and vegetable oil as well. We request all community members to send their zakatul fitr to our way at their earliest.