Abdullah Ali has witnessed much in his 30 years. At the age of 12, he was kidnapped from his village by border security forces and forced into labor. What followed was a long journey of displacement and statelessness as he moved across Southeast Asian countries in the pursuit of a better life. Ali’s story is just one of many from the Rohingya community who have dealt with years of systematic persecution because of their ethnic identity.
The Zakat Foundation of America is currently working on efforts to secure a community center for the Rohingya refugees in Chicago. There are currently over 80 Rohingya families in the Chicagoland area. “We are thankful to Zakat Foundation for the resettlement process,” said Mr. Ali.
The proposed community center will provide educational support, cultural needs, and a communal space for the Rohingya refugee community now present in Chicago. They are optimistic the new community center will bring a smoother resettlement transition into a new land and create a sense of belonging.
While finding their own place in a new home, Mr. Ali still maintains an attachment to his homeland. “I cannot forget my country,” he says. Despite the inhumane treatment and denial of their existence, the Rohingya community hopes, if possible, to return to their country in peace. They remain hopeful in Allah’s (swt) plan for their families, their people, and their land.
As of now, Abdullah and his family feel blessed to be given the opportunity to resettle in America. “When I came to the United States,” he says, “I felt like I am a newborn. I felt the freedom of life. This is something I [have] never seen.” Now, Abdullah and his wife want to take advantage of their new opportunity and provide their children with a quality education – what may have only been a dream back home.
There is much to be learned from Abdullah’s life. He survived harsh persecution by remaining steadfast and having patience with the plan of Allah (swt). Despite what he faced, he remained thankful to Allah (swt). After years of hardship, he is now in a country with religious freedom and civil rights. Abdullah believes his sabr (patience) and gratitude is what eventually brought him and his family to the United States, a place where he has experienced peace for the first time.
Unfortunately, many Rohingya have not been blessed with the same opportunity to relocate to the countries such as the United States. That is why it’s fundamental to continue our campaign efforts to help the Rohingya across the globe. For those interested in helping with local refugee projects, please feel free to contact us at [email protected] (subject line: refugee projects).