Muslim Youth Outreach members share reflections

Group helped tutor young refugees.

When refugees from camps in Tanzania came to Dayton two years ago, the Muslim Sisterhood of Dayton (MSD) reached out to Dayton Catholic Social Services to help.

MSD founder Kaukab Husain recruited high school students to form Muslim Youth Outreach (MYO) to tutor young refugees; in addition, MYO volunteered with area charitable organizations. On Dec. 1, members of MYO and their younger counterparts (Young MYO’s) shared reflections on their experiences at MYO Night, held at the Dayton Mercy Society in Miamisburg.

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Michael Murphy, who manages the refugee settlement program for Dayton Catholic Services, said he and director of social services Cindy Currell met Husain when they were invited to the Dayton Mercy Society to talk about the refugee program. “Kaukab approached us and said she’d like to be involved, and she dug right in. We matched her with a few families and she involved students.”

“We met with the families to discover their needs,” said Husain. “They were not familiar with our culture or way of living, but the biggest barrier was the language. I started tutoring, and would take a few youth with me; that group rapidly grew, so we formed the MYO. As younger youth wanted to participate, we started a Junior MYO.”

Currell described a session she visited. “There were about 10 kids in the family, and the MYO kids set up a table next to the house. It was like a one-room schoolhouse.

“Students worked in pairs with the kids on homework and topics of interest, and then there’d be free time with soccer or races using life skills, and mothers would often join in.

“Kaukab developed this model, and it’s very successful. She also partnered with MetroParks to develop a garden with the refugees. She’s always looking for resources as partners.”

Husain was so proud of what the youth had done that she organized MYO Night to give them the chance to share reflections on their work.

“We invited parents and representatives from the charities we work with,” she said. “It was time to highlight their experience and its impact on the youth and adults of all faiths and charities involved.”

Both Currell and Murphy attended MYO Night. “They had a social hour when we got to talk with the students, and then they read about their experiences and how they were affected,” said Murphy.

Sher Shah opened the presentations with a recitation from the Quran, followed by a history of the MYO and his personal reflection. About the refugees he’s helped, Shah said “At first I thought I was there to teach them, yet I now can proudly say that I was the one who was being taught a lesson. I’m more humble and accepting to those of different cultures and beliefs.”

Abdullah Nasir, 15, joined the MYO when he was in eighth grade. Since Nasir joined, the Junior MYO has been formed.

“I was the youngest, and started with refugee tutoring every Friday after school,” said Nasir. “Now, it’s not just tutoring, we also volunteer for places like the Food Bank, Hannah’s Treasure Chest, St. Leonard’s, United Way, Church of the Latter Day Saints and House of Bread. It’s (MYO) changed my mentality on the world and I now really just want to help everyone, regardless of their situation.”

“MSD was already going to these places to volunteer, and I just started taking the students along,” said Husain, who picks the youth up every Friday and transports them.

“I was impressed that Kaukab had the MYO kids process their experiences through the reflections,” said Currell. “It helped to transform them and they broke down barriers. And, I liked seeing the younger generation being inspired by the older kids who are about to graduate.

“Kaukab and the MYO students are engaged and work out of a sense of social justice which is what we’re about as a city of neighbors.”

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