Engaging young Muslim children in community work since young age, a Muslim women group in Texas has celebrated a decade of work in integrating young kids in voluntary works, working with various interfaith and NGOs throughout the Dallas area.
“We are really proud of them,” Mona Kafeel, Chief Operating Officer of the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, told the Dallas Morning Herald on Thursday, July 30.
“I think these are amazing young girls.”
The Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation started its youth wing 10 years ago to answer growing demands of engaging young Muslim kids in the community.
Welcoming boys and girls of any faith, the group provides volunteer opportunities for kids ages 7 and up, working with various interfaith and nonprofit organizations throughout the Dallas area.
The group is led by Alaa Khurram, a sophomore at Plano ISD’s Jasper High School; Soha Rizvi, a sophomore in Plano East Senior High School’s IB program; Izzah Zaheer, a sophomore at Allen High School; and Alizay Azeem, a freshman at Allen High School’s Lowery Center.
Working for a decade in Dallas, the youth group became a permanent partner in community-service days such as the National Day of Service, Humanitarian Day and the Day of Dignity.
The group also takes part in monthly events for local charities.
“We like to do something different each month, so it’s not like food pantries all the time,” co-youth leader Azeem said. “We like to spread out.”
The group volunteers by cleaning up White Rock Lake or feeding the homeless, as they helped package food for food pantries and played bingo with elderly residents at the Heritage Gardens nursing home in Carrollton.
“At times, when you go to certain places, you may find your future career there, you make some friends there,” Kafeel said.
“And Heritage Gardens was one when they first went, they were very nervous. They came out of their comfort zone, and I think that has been their favorite activity so far, spending time with seniors.”
Cooperating with all faith groups, openness was pronounced as one of their guiding principles.
“TMWF is made to support and empower not just Muslim women, but women and their families, their sons, their husbands, their daughters so that we can all work together to make a better community,” Rizvi said.
“Because you can’t fix things if you’re volunteering as just Muslim women working for just Muslim women.”
This philosophy encouraged many to join the group, including Azeem.
“We do it no matter who you are,” she said.
“And if anyone asks for help, it doesn’t matter what religion they are or what gender,” Khurram said. “We’ll still help them.”
Reaching out to hundreds of volunteers, each event sees about 20 volunteers depending on their availability.
After ten years of work, Khurram, Rizvi, Zaheer and Azeem were brought on as co-leaders after the foundation board realized how large the organization had gotten, Kafeel said.
“It’s such a huge volunteer base, and we want to engage more people,” Kafeel said.
“This is their first year, and they are hitting the ground running.”
For Rizvi, the group’s culture was something she liked.
“It doesn’t feel like a clique; it feels like anybody is welcome, anybody that wants to volunteer,” she said.