They are considered to be the most persecuted people in the world. The Rohingya, an ethnic community hailing from Burma, have faced consistent oppression for several decades in their own homeland.
In 2012, the situation worsened to the point where Rohingya’s began fleeing the country by any means possible. Many were turned away by neighboring countries. Fortunately, a number of families were able to migrate to Chicago in recent months.
On Friday, Zakat Foundation of America organized a winter kit distribution event at a church on the North Side of Chicago. Many Rohingya families arrived to receive a winter kit and expressed their thanks to Zakat Foundation of America.
“Distributing the winter kits to the Rohingya refugees was a very rewarding experience,” said Yara, one of the interns at Zakat Foundation of America. “There were four refugee women that helped us distribute the packages when it became hectic. It was so touching to see them put everyone else before themselves.”
“They could have set aside a winter kit for their families and themselves but they made sure everyone else was taken care of first,” added Yara. “Distribution would have been close to impossible without their help. May Allah bless them.”
Currently, over 200 Rohingya families have settled in the Chicagoland area. At the moment, Zakat Foundation of America is helping the Rohingya community secure a community center off Devon Avenue, a neighborhood known for its South Asian culture.
The community center hopes to act as a safe space where the Rohingya families can maintain their identity. It will feature social and religious programs and offer courses specifically for women.
“They’re focused on retaining their identity in this country,” said Bashira, a Programs Coordinator at Zakat Foundation of America. “Some of these families are now having children born here, so they’re very much invested in their future in terms of education and youth development.”