By: Magda Elkadi Saleh
At a time when it seems that everyone is at odds, and the world is full of human suffering and pain, there are many bright rays of hope here in our community. One of those very bright rays of hope is Radiant Hands. Subhan'Allah, meeting the needs of our newly settled families from all over the Muslim and Arabic-speaking world has become a cause that so many in our community have rallied around. Last October, there was much talk about the "Refugee Crisis in Tampa." Three weeks ago, a "Celebration of Success" was held for and by these same refugees, who prefer to be called "newcomers" or "newly settled families" or "muhajireen." They came to Tampa through no choice of their own, leaving behind their countries, their families and their belongings in the hopes that they could build new lives for their families in safety. They have faced and continue to face many challenges: they are struggling to learn the language; they are struggling to find jobs; they are struggling to fit in.
However, the amount of good that has come from people in the past nine months to try to alleviate these challenges is nothing short of amazing, masha'Allah. It has been wonderful seeing all of the masajid working together and all of the ethnic communities within the Muslim community coming together to help bring smiles and confidence back to the faces of these new families who now call Tampa home.
There is barakah in work that people do for the sake of Allah SWT alone. There is barakah when people forget their ethnic, cultural, educational and social differences to work to alleviate the suffering and hardships of others: Translating for them at doctors' appointments; giving them driving lessons; escorting them to the health department for their immunizations; providing free dental and medical care; etc.
In the past month alone, the community has come together to buy over 150 toys to be given as Eid gifts to the children of the newcomers, ages 2-10. Community-members have dug deep into their pockets and donated over $3000 towards 190 gift cards, so that each child ages 2 - 18 could buy new clothes for Eid. Generous community-members donated cars to these families, so that they no longer have to walk to work and to the grocery store, and so that they can make it to the masjid to interact with the rest of the community. College students have been offering free tutoring services to a great many of these newly settled children, so that they can be more successful in school in the fall, and so that they can get the educations that so many of their parents do not have. Many community-members have made much-needed monetary donations to help keep the whole system moving.
The Radiant Hands experience is not only touching the Muslim community. Masha'Allah, partnerships have been built with many agencies, faith-based organizations and individuals in Tampa Bay. Members of the Hyde Park United Methodist Church have stepped up to the plate in providing services to many of our families, and they are in awe of the blessings that they have witnessed this Ramadan. In their own words: "Radiant Hands truly radiates love and positive results for so many needs in our refugee community.” and "Allah, God, is working through us and inspiring us and blessing our families during this holy season of Ramadan." Subhan'Allah, this is definitely not the story you are going to see on the prime time news programs, but this is the truth of what is happening.
In the coming weeks, many more families will be arriving in Tampa, and they will need your support. If you have been supporting the families who are already here, please continue to offer your support. If you have not had the opportunity to support them yet, please do so. Every member of our community can do his/her part, and it does not have to involve money or lots of time. Often, all that a family wants is to be given an job opportunity. Often, they simply want to be offered a ride to the masjid on a Friday to pray Jumuah and to interact with other families. Often, all they want is to get a phone call asking about them and letting know they are not forgotten. Often, they simply want our duaa and well-wishes.
May Allah bless and reward each and everyone who has helped make the Radiant Hands' experience such an amazing one, and may He continue to shower His blessings on us all and ease our way.