Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) met with leaders from the Rohingya Culture Center to discuss fundraising, structure and creating more exposure. The goal is to make the community see the RCC as more than just a place to solve problems, as written in a grant agreement between ZF and the RCC.
The center is approaching its one-year anniversary on April 9th, and ZF is continuing its sponsorship with a second grant. The cultural center, which serves about 1,000 beneficiaries, will work more closely with ZF representatives to ensure objectives are being met.
Bashirah Mack, a ZF programs coordinator who attended the meeting, said she is excited about the possibilities of the upcoming year and looks forward to working with them as they build upon the successes of last year.
“This year, we anticipate the Rohingya Culture Center will assist more families through their already established programs, including ESL classes and after-school tutoring,” Ms. Mack said. “I’m also excited to see the development of social services at the center. This is the beginning of a promising year for the resettled community.”
ZF and the RCC agreed on objectives to strengthen English language abilities (through English as a Second Language classes). Children attend schools and have enough immersion and school support to strengthen their English language skills. Many of the mothers in the community do not have the same opportunities to learn English, so the RCC offers classes to do so. Both ZF and the RCC want to increase the number of students in ESL.
Children can also receive homework help and computer literacy classes at the center. The RCC wants to unite youth within the community around extracurriculars, an example of which is connecting young men through sports teams.
The RCC also offers Arabic language classes for children, as well as cultural retention for children and cultural competency for adults. The children learn about their people’s history, and the adults learn about American culture to better fit in. Another objective is to have monthly communal gatherings such as dinners, and to coordinate and establish a wedding, birth ceremony, and funeral committee.
The center is working with Iraqi Mutual Aid Society (IMAS) to provide social service assistance. This includes helping beneficiaries and training community members to translate for IMAS, as well as schools, hospitals and doctors. The professionals at IMAS will be training RCC community members to handle social service issues, including immigration concerns
ZF wants to help the RCC create a stronger sense of belonging to help reduce stress among community members. ZF’s long-term goals also include making students more successful through extracurriculars, resolving social service problems in a timely manner, and creating a stronger sense of community to help members become self-sufficient. Also, getting more members to commit to improving their English and other skills can help community members get better jobs that would, in turn, further strengthen their English language abilities and make them even more productive members of society.