I must say, this was truly an inspirational experience. Being able to sit in the room as a former fellow now youth ally, brought so many sparks within my soul. Realizing how much work the recent youth allies and I worked to get to the stage we’re at now, made me more optimistic on the change that we the youth hold in this society.
So many young people in this world are on a desperate search to find: who they are, what they truly stand for, what’s their passion, and etc. That is why, these youth-empowerment initiative are truly needed among our communities, to help build strong transformative youth leaders of today— on a mission/drive for social justice.This is such an emotional topic for me, because when I sit back and reflect on how the youth are suffering by making wrong choices just to be heard; youth who want to make a change but their held back by stereotypic parents who see no benefit in these types youth groups and believe that school is the only EDUCATION needed in this dunya [world], makes my heart ache.
I’m truly blessed for the path that Allah [God] is leading me on, as I learn more and experience more; I gain more understanding/wisdom about the society we live in today and about the impact that I want to make/leave in my home, community/school, and the world.
W/ PEACE && LOVE...
Hello people! Long time no blog, sorry about that. So as you may or may not already know Fanta, Ami, Hana, and myself have promoted to youth allies of DMH! Alhamdulilah, everything has been pretty smooth, hard work though. :) So at this Sunday's session the current fellows (of Cohort #2) began working on their community initiatives! Exciting right? :D While planning, some of the other allies and I pulled the fellows aside to interview them...the link to the video is above.
The parts that stood out to me most during the interview were when we asked the fellows "What are you learning about your strengths and weaknesses throughtout the program?" Just their simple answers about how they're beginning to notice themselves speaking their opinions more often and not being as fragile or discouraged when others put them down reminded me so much of myself. Now I know it wasn't that long ago since I was a fellow, but I've just gotten so used to this bettered me (if you will) that I don't think about how much DMH has improved me everyday.
The other day I was speaking to a group of my friends about DMH. While doing so, another one of my friends approached us and asked what were we discussing. My answer was clear and simple; I replied, "Detroit Minds and Hearts, are you planning on joining?" *Mind you, she already knew what the group was about* She then replied, "No...I don't need it, it won't change me." This, in connection to the video is what my blog will be based around.
Often times, we as humans find it rather difficult to accept change...even when it's good or necessary. A lot of it is based around stubborness as well as ego-issues. When the answers of the fellows to the question reminded me of myself almost a year ago ... I thought back to how at the time I didn't not only think I needed change, I didn't I want it. Regardless of this I joined DMH, stuck it through, and am still apart of what is for a lifetime.
Tracing back to my question, "are you open enough to necessary change?" When my friend stated that DMH couldn't change her, it made me think back to how many individuals (if not all) thought that very same thing when they joined the program. And one fellow in particular stands out so much to me when it comes to this, specifically.
As Ramadan (the month of fasting for Muslims) is coming to a close (bye bye! see you next year!), I thought it would be cool to share a lesson I've learned. This month, I tried to remain focused on prayer, and so I prayed for myself and for everything I wanted. I prayed for others here and there, you know, to even the score, then I realized "Wow.... I'm pretty dang selfish". I was so caught up in my own life I seem to have forgotten that there are others in the world who NEED (not want) our prayers. This thought was reaffirmed while standing in prayer at my local mosque and hearing the Imam (who leads the prayer) cry as he asked God to help those in Palestine and in Syria and Burma. And it's sad to say some people are completely blind to what's happening in the world. I may not be an expert on these worldwide events, but I definitely know now to think of others instead of only myself. So I urge everyone to take some time out of their prayers for themselves to pray for those dying, starving, suffering around the world. And remember that there are billions sharing this planet who don't have the luxuries that we have, so keep them in mind, because if God wills, one day we may be in their place, and we'll need those prayers too.
By: Amany Killawi
“My brain hurts!” said my sister, as we walked out of one of the
allies’* house after an intense program development session.
“Trust me. So does mine.” I answered back.
We had just finished helping to develop a part of the program for
the Detroit Minds and Hearts fellowship. For those of you who are not familiar with it just yet, its a fellowship that aims to empower disengaged youth and transform them into agents of social change by recognizing their potential, refining it, and retaining their drive for social justice by helping them launch their very own community action plans and initiatives.
This incident happened approximately a year ago, and many like
this one were to follow. Yet today as I reflect back on my journey with being involved in this program I realize many things:
For one I can still to this day remember the extreme hesitation I expressed in being involved. I had just freshly graduated high
school and I was genuinely traumatized from being over involved and burn out during my senior year. This led to a strong commitment phobia. When asked to join the DMH team, at first I wasn’t sure at all. All I wanted was a summer to relax and take a break before I started classes in the fall. So what made someone like me eventually get on board?
The cause drew me in. It was such a powerful cause. And it scared
the hell out of me as well. I mean we were going to be designing a program thats goal was to successfully transform the participants, who were your average teenagers into advocates of social change.
If the cause was one strong magnet so was the passion behind it. I knew that I would be working with a team who believed in this cause like Terry Jones believed Islam is of the devil.
In addition to the fact that I was personally sick of organizing flash mob events. Events where you would put so much work behind it in which people would attend en masse and get all inspired for that day, and then they leave and you wouldn't hear much from them after that. I wanted to see how my work was affecting others on a more personal level, and how it was helping their development in the long run.
Today I reflect back on year journey of involvement in this program and the fact that my ability to critically think has dramatically improved. At first a session or two with the adult allies would cramp my brain. Now we run through marathon sessions of fleshing out the program.
A skill no doubt we are aiming for the fellows to have.
Because it takes critical thinking skills to take the Prophet PBUH practices and translate that into community action. It takes critical thinking to take ideas that well-known civil rights leaders like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and others championed and define how they translate into our specific context.
I’m not going to say it was easy. We had, and continue to have
our challenges. From worrying about funding, to deciding how to best measure change, and how to design the implementation month where the fellows launch their action plans, it’s all enough to make anybody’s head spinning.
Yet in those challenges lay so many opportunities for personal
growth and development. At times I could literally feel the internal growth
after I had resolved an issue or completed a challenging task.
Sometimes I joke about how being in this program and working with
the allies is like a marriage, except your married to 3 other people as you have to learn how to navigate their working and communication styles, resulting in many “pulse” check meetings in which we learn how to confront each other on specific issues so that we can improve our interpersonal relationships.
So looking back at this journey and what a journey it has been, I can only be hopeful for what we have yet to overcome. And I know that when the goings get tough all I have do is I bring some perspective to the picture and I remember why this program is so powerful. So that even when my brain hurts (which it still does sometimes) I know it’s hurting for a good cause. :)
It's Khadigah, here! I am not a fan of blogging-- more of a journal writer but I'm gonna give this a shot and see where it takes me. Yup-- I just finished my DMH tasks and a couple other MAS tasks and yup it is past fajr so feel guilty fellows; you are the cause of my sleep deprivation!!! :P I kid.
On the real...
I've been thinking about something for a while as we move through this program. I wonder, for the fellows who do believe in the Prophet Muhammad, pbuh**, do you see what we are doing as an extension of the work that he did during his time? Think about that for a minute...
I definitely do. I imagine what his opinion would be of what I am doing and if he were alive this day and age, living my shoes, would he be doing the same thing? And I really want for that to be the case. That would be the ultimate test of whether what we are doing is up to par or not. AND THEN this line of thought led me down:
Flasbacks of what ideas I had in high school and the beginning of my college career returned to me, how I had such negative feelings towards the Prophet, pbuh. I was embarrassed to talk about him because what I had known of him was really negative. I thought he, pbuh, was a womanizer and that he helped cause women to be oppressed. I looked around me and all of the oppression of women; I attributed it to him. Why did I think this? Some of you can guess-- just look at the stories that our media and news tells us about Islam and the Prophet, pbuh. Think of the Islamophobes (including some of my school teachers) and people who are ignorant of Islam and what they often promote about him. All the crap had invaded me and corrupted the image of a person who I actually had completely misunderstood. It took a while but I came around. One of the biggest gamechangers for me when it came to how I thought about the Prophet, pbuh, was when I heard this story. The Prophet, pbuh, was crying and God sent the angel Gabriel to ask why Muhammad, pbuh, was crying (although God, of course knew) and Muhammad pbuh explained that it was for those of us who were going to come and live after him. He'd cry out of fear and in compassion for us and what we would face. God informed the Prophet pbuh that he could intercede for us on the Day of Judgement.
This shocked me. What forethought and concern this man had to have for me and all of you? This is what he spent his time doing? Seriously? IT takes SO MUCH for me to cry about my family and friends-- people I love and see everyday of my life but I RARELY will shed one tear for a person I don't know especially for someone who will live 1500 years after I die. Learning this shook me and it was just the beginning of a journey to better understanding and eventually having mad love for our beloved Prophet, pbuh. That's why I hope that the work we are doing in this fellowship is in line with what he would want for all of us.
I know some of you don't really dig on him or could care less for him, pbuh, but I hope that changes. Let me know if you want to work on changing that :)
** this stands for "peace be upon him." It's part of the Muslim tradition to wish peace and blessings upon our Final Prophet when his name is mentioned.
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Hello! My name is Tahany, and I am one of the youth allies. I’d like to start off with saying I feel the same exact way as Issra, but being an ally kind of showed me how I can work on my PDP. I want to interact with people more, help people, and be active in the community. I'm always full of talk, but I never take action. One reason (excuse) as you ALL may know is because I get scared quickly and I'm going to admit I’m afraid to fail. But, ever since Ammerah pulled me into all this I feel like I'm taking action. You guys may not see it, but I swear I’m not a creepy weird girl who take pictures of EVERYTHING (Ammerah’s request) I'm more active and I yearn to help out the younger and older! Ammerah is always on top of me, and always throwing this quote at me “If you are afraid to fail, then you will never succeed”…this quote actually drives me to take action and risks! I'm trying so hard to break out of my shell (Very shy person)…Ammerah and the rest of DMH crew are really helping me. The one thing that caused me to be myself and get more active with the fellows was the camping trip, IT WAS AWESOME!!! So, that’s a little something I thought I should share for now…
P.S. I don’t think I will talk this much at a session, not quite yet. I’m shocked that I shared this much…LOL! But, you got to do what Ammerah says. ; P… that’s not the ONLY reason I blogged, I also wanted to push myself and share some thoughts
Love you Ammerah!
Hey Its Issra. I was not even going to blog until Ammerah made me... er I mean.. convinced me to. We were having one of our VERY long chat convos that we do to keep each other company during work, and so I was telling her this:
me: sometimes i wish i started out as a Fellow.
me: ask me why?!
me: Well bcuz i would have gotten my purpose and direction
straight and worked my way through a PDP. I also would have been able to interact with youth who actually are striving for the same purpose I am, and I would have benefitted from all the discussions and new things they get to learn through the program.
Sometimes I just wanna jump into the debates and offer my input and be a part of the discussions. I feel like i have to hold back so much as an ally.
Plus, I would eventually get all the training and what I am doing right now
with you guys.
that's beautiful issra!
YOU HAVE TO BLOG THAT!!!!
So, yeah, that is kind of how I am feeling right now and I am actually glad I am putting it out there so that I am no longer just the creepy person in the corner that writes everything you say LOL. There is more to who I am, I swear :)
My name is Ammerah Saidi and I've been a youth ally for more than a year now and I couldn't love this work any more. I truly believe in the potential of youth to change themselves and their communities. I believe this in spite of having youth how curse at me, youth who resist my pushing, youth who call me names behind my back, and youth who pretend that failure is exactly what they wanted in life. Pushing past all that, I see their potential to be transformative, inspirational human beings.
In this same vein, I'm finding myself learning so much from the Fellows and the other Allies throughout this whole journey as a Detroit Minds and Hearts Adult Ally.
But today, what I'm stuck on is how to move these youth from doing what we tell them to do to doing what THEY WANT to do in order to work towards the community change that they're passionate about.
How do we get those Fellows who don't complete their blogs to do them on their own without us having to call them?
How do we get the Fellows to clean up after themselves without us having to tell them to?
How do we get the Fellows to read about the world around them in order to act more purposefully and effectively?
We'll be discussing these issues along with other feelings and thoughts on Thursday's session.