Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Naazish YarKhan, Founder RAP

Glendale Heights: naazishyarkhan@gmail.com

Refugee Assistance Programs finds its roots in a cold winter's day, six years ago, when a young Muslim mother saw sandal-clad African women, in thin cotton clothing, dropping their children to school. Moved to do more than simply feel sorry for them or just fold some money into their palms, Naazish YarKhan began mobilizing the greater Chicago community to get involved towards assisting the refugees to become self-reliant. This was the kernel of Refugee Assistance Programs, which today partners with ICNA Relief, amongst other organizations.

Over the years, RAP has collaborated with several organizations to build bridges towards bringing self-sufficiency to the refugee community. These include Community Outreach and School District 41, Refugee and Immigrant Network and Services, Mohd. Webb Foundation, Glen Ellyn Children's Resource Center, ICNA Relief, Islamic Foundation Mosque, Muslim Society Inc., Helping Hands/ Love Christian Clearing House and OWLS.

Naazish YarKhan/ RAP have been featured in Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, Azizah magazine and other local media. What fuels her work? "In Islam, being your brother's keeper - either by donating funds or time - isn't a choice. It's a God-given responsibility. Secondly, I am very aware of how life can change in an instant. How would I want my children and myself to be treated, if life dealt us such a harsh blow. It could. Afterall, God doesn't love my family more than he loves any refugee family. It could be us facing tremendous hardships next."

Naazish YarKhan is a prolific writer, editor, NPR commentator and founder of Writers Studio, where she works with students on college essays and writing skills. She blogs for Huffington Post and has a column in the Oman Observer. In 2009, she was on PBS' Chicago Tonight, a speaker at the InterFaith Youth Core and a panelist at the International Human Rights Center, DePaul University. She is an Advisory Board member of Poetry Pals. She has been honored with the inaugural MWA "Inspiring Woman" Award. She has two children ages 7 and 12.

In 2009, RAP received the Excellence in Community Service Award from the Council of Islamic Organizations, Chicago.

37 comments:

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Sabina Abdul Qadir

Sabina Qadir, a mother of two and a lawyer by education, has been incredibly active in the Muslim and Non-Muslim Community in various roles.

Her efforts include chairing the ICN Girls Club for ages 8-12, serving as Director of Community Service on the MWA Board, organizing a plethora of community service events for IMAN, UMMA and MWA and creating a staple program related to Islam at her children's school - Avery Coonely.

AT AVERY COONLEY Besides doing Islam/ Eid presentations for the past 10 years at Avery Coonely in her children's classes, she began organizing Eid lunches for the staff, towards which all the Muslim parents at the school contributed. That combined with an educational "Show and Tell" component for the teachers, has grown to become a staple at the school. She has been invited back by staff to present beyond Eid, during Social Studies.

Sabina has organized annual food and Eid gift drives for UMMA, MWA and IMAN, for the needy. As Board Member and Director of Social Services at MWA she, most recently, organized 6 community service events in 6 weeks around and during Ramadan 2009.

Rush for Rewards included serving breakfast at a homeless shelter and having kids put on a talent show at a children's hospital. In the Muslim community, she organized an Iftaar at a SouthSide mosque, cleaned up a food pantry, spearheaded an Eid Grocery Drive for refugees and more. Several thousands of dollars worth of grocery were distributed/ collected as monetary donations. She ran this Eid Grocery Drive as a collaboration between Arab American Service Committee, MWA, ICN, Refugee Assistance Program and ICNA.

She has been with ICN girls club for 2 years as an organizer. Here she had the children volunteer and visit nursing homes for seniors, participate in a project for the organization "Feed my Starving Children", had the girls run a mock election, organized eid parties, arranged for the girls to take archery and more.