Massachusetts Director Speaks About Helping Syrian Refugees at Local Council Meeting

ICNA Relief's Massachusetts Director Sr. Malika MacDonald spoke at a Cambridge City Council meeting to discuss the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the role of ICNA Relief USA both nationally and locally.

She talked about the various problems incoming refugees would face and their potential solutions.

"A major role the City of Cambridge can advocate is scholarships for tuition so that foreign born professionals can become accredited within the United States," she told the Council. "Professional employment opportunities would alleviate some of the financial concerns refugees face upon arriving in US. Let's help them become productive citizens."

Sr. Malika is also the National Director of ICNA Relief's Network of Women's Shelters.


How Well is the U.S. Prepared to Welcome and Support Refugees?

By Malika MacDonald

Given the refugee crisis that is gripping Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, and Turkey and spilling into Europe after years of bloodshed in Syria, the pressure is on the Obama Administration to accept more refugees into the United States.

But aside from the debates and questions about how best to help refugees and how many to accept, what does it mean to be a refugee in America? This is a question that isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Besides the obvious culture shock and differences in language, the Refugee Resettlement Process itself is cloaked in misconceptions — both on the part of refugees themselves as well as the general public.

Read more: How Well is the U.S. Prepared to Welcome and Support Refugees?

ICNA Relief Georgia Holds Eid Gifts Party for Refugee Children from Burma and Somalia

With Eid-ul-Fitr only a few days away, ICNA Relief Georgia held an Eid Gifts Party for the children of refugees from Burma​ and Somalia this past Saturday. We had over 500 gifts collected and distributed among kids and families. The highlight of the event were the kids who volunteered and shared Eid gifts with their new friends from Clarkston. There were gifts for the adults, too. The City of Atlanta has a large population of refugees from all over the world. ICNA Relief Georgia works very closely with the refugee community by assisting them through various programs, including Project RACE


Refugees Come Together Through ICNA Relief to Help A 70-Year-Old Sister with No Food for Suhoor or Iftar

This is the sweetest Ramadan story we have come across. Please take the time to read it to the end. Before the start of Ramadan, ICNA Relief received a request for suhoor and iftaar on behalf of Sr. Halima (on left), who is over 70. She lives in a nursing home, speaks no English and had no access to halal meat or suhoor or iftaar. Hearing our request, families volunteered to bring her suhoor and iftaar each and every day for Ramadan. And since she doesn't have access to halal meat through the year, these volunteers make it a point to include it in each meal! 

The day one lady cooks for Sr. Halima, she is provided groceries for it by another sister in the group. They take turns cooking and shopping for each other, so no one family does it all. But do you know what the most touching thing is?

Read more: Refugees Come Together Through ICNA Relief to Help A 70-Year-Old Sister with No Food for Suhoor or...

ICNA Relief's New Project RACE Aims to Provide Education Support to Refugee Children in the Country

According to statistics from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), most refugees who immigrated to the United States between 2009-2011 came from either Muslim countries (like Iraq or Somalia) or countries where the local Muslim population is being persecuted (such as Burma). Generally, people tend to help refugees while they're still in their country of origin but forget about them once they're here.

Many refugees arrive in the U.S. with little or no money and no place to go. Refugees face all kinds of trouble adjusting to life in America and don't always have the resources to do so effectively. Sometimes these refugee families consist of women separated from their husbands who must take care of their children all on their own in a foreign country they know little about. Other times -- even if both parents are present -- they are too busy juggling odd jobs to make ends meet that they do not have the time or means to take their kids to the mosque. 

That is why ICNA Relief has a whole program devoted to accommodating the needs of these refugees. We offer them financial assistance, English as a second language (ESL) classes and have even provided them with free cars directly through donors by the grace of Allah, among other services. About a year ago, we started a new education program for refugee children in Clarkston, GA called Refugee Assistance for Children's Education (RACE). 

ICNA Relief discovered 80 Burmese children attending weekend school in a cramped apartment with no air conditioning. Our Atlanta chapter collaborated with a local Islamic community center to improve their learning environment by providing them with a bigger space. ICNA Relief arranged for volunteer teachers and hired teachers through the center as well. We also provide free books and snacks to the children in addition to free transportation services. Seeing how beneficial the program is, refugee children from Darfur, Chad and Somalia have also enrolled making the total number of kids participating in RACE rise to 150.

But Clarkston is not the only refugee hub in America; a lot of other cities in the nation are seeing an influx of refugee populations who need help adjusting to their new lives. Please donate today so we can continue to support refugee families in other areas through programs like RACE.


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