Hayat Washington

Fatimah,  a homeless Arab Muslim woman in the Northern Virginia area and not her real name, wrote the following diary entry after struggling to establish a home for herself and her two young children. I ask our readers to excuse her English writing skill as she is new to the United States.

Speaking to herself.  “I will start looking for an Islamic organization on my own. What happened to you Fatimah?   You can find it on your own, you need to find your people and people of your faith. What is the first place after ADAMS Center?”

“Dar Alhijra, there is ….., her name is Arabic. Today I will go to Jumma and will call and leave a message and another message in Arabic since there is an Arab working there. This time I won’t wait like last time. I heard of another organization called KARAMA. But when I called them the phone keeps getting disconnected, maybe they are busy. There is also the IKRAM organization, when I called someone answered but he only speaks English then he hangs up. I have to keep trying before I end up in the street. I won’t call anymore.”

“After a while I met Maui who kept trying to get close to me and she is very persistant.  She wants to help and I won’t say no to help. She introduced me to a man his name is Allen and his wife Jackie. I explained my situation to them and they promised to help me. They helped and in a short time. The man mentioned that he knows people at ADAMS Center and will pass my number to them because I’m Muslim and they need to know about my case and help me. I see Allen everyday but I’m afraid he will ask me if the ADAMS Center contacted me and I’m embarrassed to tell him they didn’t. I’m still waiting.”

“Today is Friday, I will go to pray Jumma even though the lecture is not in Arabic. Go Fatimah, talk to the person in charge and tell him everything, it’s no secret anymore. The prayer finished and I followed the person in charge and tried to explain. He told me to go to ADAMS Center it’s not far from this place. Even though Maui did call ADAMS before and argued with them and told them we don’t need your help.”

“On Monday I called and left a message since she was busy. Three days past and I got a call back from …. who listened to me and I gave her all the details. However, their help was limited. She asked for my case worker to follow up with her. This gave me some hope and I’m going to wait. It seems that she forgot about me … I’m still hoping but nothing… I’m still waiting.”

Our community, like many, faces a number of social challenges ranging from domestic violence, drug abuse, mental illness, immigration and unemployment. We had the chance to learn more about a number of social service organizations or lack thereof last month through Fatimah’s case that came to our attention.

What we discovered was shocking and saddening at the same time.  There are social service organizations in the Arab and Muslim Community. Some operate within Islamic Centers like Dar Alhijra and ADAMS Center, while others operate independently like FAITH, iMPACT and IKRAM. Some receive government grants and others are completely reliant on private funding. What is common between them all is the fact that they exist to help members of the community who need social services.

Even though, these organizations or entities are there to provide support, they seem to lack one important aspect, empathy for those in need.  Hayat Washington experienced this first hand when it received a call from an Arab-Muslim woman with two children who have been living in a homeless shelter for the past few months, Fatimah.

Fatimah attempted to contact all the organizations mentioned earlier, but no one was able to help or, in many cases, did not even return calls. After many attempts she lost hope in getting help from within the community.

She contacted Hayat Washington asking for a job in order to leave the homeless shelter and live in a private place. We informed her that we don’t have an opening but we are willing to direct her to the appropriate organizations that may assist her. In addition to Fatimah’s  attempts, we also began contacting some of those who work in the field of social services who promised to contact her.  To our surprise they didn’t do much. We sent messages to other organizations that claim to help homeless people on a regular basis but we were ignored. We even contacted individuals for help but all we got was sympathy.

We know that our community social service organizations collect funds from the community and some get funding from the government. However, in this situation we discovered that they are not effective or do not care to serve in this particular case. In some cases, people don’t need money, but guidance and moral support to resolve their social problems. Even that was not offered to this homeless woman and her children.

How many other cases are there that we don’t know about. Where is the money collected going to if not for cases like this? How about giving guidance, resources and support as a minimum to those who are in need? Why are they so negligent? Can’t they at least return phone calls and provide some solutions?

This is an issue that can’t be ignored. We suspect there are many other cases out there that are not reported and most people are too embarrassed to keep asking or complain. Organizations need to be held accountable for the money and resources they have and how it is being spent. They should be accountable for how many people they help every year and what the outcome of their work is. If we as a community do not begin to watch over this type of activity these organizations will continue doing the minimum or nothing, like they have for Fatimah and her children.

We reached out to all the aforementioned organizations for their comments. However, they were unable to provide us with a statement before the printing of this issue.

  ‬حياة‭ ‬واشنطن

فاطمة‭ ‬هي‭ ‬امرأة‭ ‬عربية‭ ‬مسلمة‭ ‬في‭ ‬منطقة‭ ‬شمال‭ ‬فرجينيا‭ ‬كتبت‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬اليوميات‭ ‬عن‭ ‬معاناتها‭ ‬للحصول‭ ‬على‭ ‬مسكن‭ ‬لها‭ ‬ولأطفالها‭ ‬الإثنين‭. ‬كتبت‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬اليوميات‭ ‬باللغة‭ ‬العامية‭ ‬لتوصل‭ ‬صوتها‭ ‬وقصتها‭ ‬للقراء‭. ‬

‮«‬رح‭ ‬أبلش‭ ‬افتش‭ ‬عن‭ ‬منظمات‭ ‬اسلاميه‭ ‬لحالي‭ ‬،‭ ‬وينك‭ ‬يا‭ ‬فاطمة‭ ‬شومالك‭ ‬معقول‭ ‬ما‭ ‬بتعرفي‭ ‬تفتشي‭ ‬مالهم‭ ‬ايديكي‭ ‬متربطين‭ ‬وكأنك‭ ‬صرتي‭ ‬اتكاليه‭ ‬‮«‬‭ ‬لازم‭ ‬اتفتشي‭ ‬على‭ ‬اهلك‭ ‬واهل‭ ‬دينك‭ ‬‮«‬‭ ‬اول‭ ‬واحد‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬ادم‭ ‬سنتر‭ ‬مين‭ ‬مين؟‮»‬

‮«‬دار‭ ‬الهجره‭ ‬في‭ …. ‬ممتاز‭ ‬اسمها‭ ‬عربي‭. ‬اليوم‭ ‬الجمعه‭ ‬خلص‭ ‬رح‭ ‬ارن‭ ‬رنيت‭ ‬وحطيت‭ ‬مسج‭ ‬وكمان‭ ‬مسج‭ ‬ملاحظه‭ (‬بالعربي‭ ‬البسيط‭) ‬لانو‭ ‬اسم‭ ‬عربي‭ ‬بس‭ ‬مش‭ ‬رح‭ ‬انتظر‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬اول‭ ‬اسبوع‭ ‬وتنين‭… ‬اسمعت‭ ‬بمنظمه‭ ‬اكرام‭ … ‬ابدا‭ ‬نفس‭ ‬الموضوع‭ ‬بس‭ ‬هاد‭ ‬بدون‭ ‬مسجات‭ ‬دغري‭ ‬سريع‭ ‬بفصل‭ ‬التلفون‭ ‬مش‭ ‬فاضي‭ ‬يمكن‭ ‬،‭ ‬هلا‭ ‬في‭ ‬منظمه‭ ‬كرامه،‭ ‬لا‭ ‬ما‭ ‬بدي‭ ‬اتصل‭ ‬يمكن‭ ‬يكون‭ ‬نفسو‭ ‬اكرام‭ ‬طيب‭ ‬حاولي‭ ‬خلص‭ ‬بحاول‭ ‬مهو‭ ‬كلو‭ ‬إنتظار‭ ‬قبل‭ ‬لا‭ ‬اوصل‭ ‬الشارع‭ ‬،‭ ‬كل‭ ‬هاد‭ ‬وانا‭ ‬لسه‭ ‬عن‭ ‬بدور‭ ‬على‭ ‬شغل‭ ‬ردت‭ ‬اكرام‭ ‬شخص‭ ‬بتكلم‭ ‬انجليزي‭ ‬كلمتين‭ ‬وسكرالخط،‭ ‬ما‭ ‬رح‭ ‬اتصل‭ ‬على‭ ‬حدا‭ ‬ابدا‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬اليوم،‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬فتره‭ ‬تعرفت‭ ‬على‭ ‬بنت‭ (‬ماوي‭)‬‭ ‬لأ‭ ‬هيه‭ ‬اتعرفت‭ ‬علي‭ ‬غصب‭ ‬اجباري‭ ‬فرضت‭ ‬حالها‭ ‬يوميا‭ ‬وراي‭ ‬وبدها‭ ‬تساعدني‭. ‬هيه‭ ‬عرفتني‭ ‬على‭ ‬رجل‭ ‬اسمو‭ ‬ألين‭ ‬وزوجته‭ ‬جاكي‭ ‬رح‭ ‬يساعدوكي‭ ‬اشرحيلهم‭… ‬ساعدوني‭ ‬طبعا‭ ‬وبسرعه‭ ‬خبرني‭ ‬انو‭ ‬بعرف‭ ‬حد‭ ‬مسؤول‭ ‬بادم‭ ‬سنتر‭ ‬رح‭ ‬يحكيه‭ ‬ويعطيه‭ ‬تلفوني‭ ‬وانو‭ ‬انا‭ ‬مسلمه‭ ‬ولازم‭ ‬حد‭ ‬يعرف‭ ‬اني‭ ‬بحتاج‭ ‬للمساعده‭ ‬،‭ ‬كل‭ ‬يوم‭ ‬لما‭ ‬أمر‭ ‬واشوفهم‭ ‬بطريقي‭ ‬اخجل‭ ‬لما‭ ‬يسالوني‭ ‬حكوكي‭ ‬آدم‭ ‬سنتر‭ ‬طبعا‭ ‬ما‭ ‬حكو‭ ‬عم‭ ‬انتظر‭.. ‬وللان‭ ‬بنتظر‭.‬‮»‬

‮«‬يوم‭ ‬الجمعه‭ ‬رح‭ ‬اروح‭ ‬الصلاه‭ ‬يا‭ ‬ربي‭ ‬حتى‭ ‬خطبه‭ ‬الجمعه‭ ‬مو‭ ‬بالعربي‭ ‬،‭ ‬اسالي‭ ‬يا‭ ‬فاطمة‭ ‬المرشد‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬ما‭ ‬يطلع‭ ‬واحكيلو‭ ‬كل‭ ‬شي‭ ‬طبعا‭ ‬هيه‭ ‬ما‭ ‬بتخلي‭ ‬سر‭ ‬بدون‭ ‬نشر‭ ‬المهم‭ ‬خلصت‭ ‬الصلاه‭ ‬ولحقتو‭ ‬مباشره‭ ‬احاول‭ ‬اشرحلو‭ ‬وفهمت‭ ‬انو‭ ‬آدم‭ ‬سنتر‭ ‬مش‭ ‬بيعد‭ ‬عنا‭… ‬لكن‭ ‬المشكله‭ ‬قبلها‭ ‬اتصلت‭ ‬هاي‭ ‬البنت‭ (‬ماوي‭) ‬على‭ ‬رقم‭ ‬لآدم‭ ‬سنتر‭ ‬وتكلمت‭ ‬معهم‭ ‬ما‭ ‬فهمت‭ ‬كتير‭ ‬لا‭ ‬ما‭ ‬تكلمت‭ ‬صرخت‭ ‬وصرخت‭  ‬وبالنهايه‭ ‬حكتلهم‭ ‬لا‭ ‬تحتاج‭ ‬لمساعدتكم‭.‬‮»‬

‮«‬يوم‭ ‬الاثنين‭ ‬رنيت‭ ‬وحطيت‭ ‬مسج‭ ‬لانها‭ ‬مشغوله،مروو‭ ‬ثلاث‭ ‬ايام‭… ‬ردت‭ …. ‬وأخيراً‭ ‬ردت‭ ‬وسألتني‭ ‬بدون‭ ‬ما‭ ‬أحكي‭ ‬اهتمت‭ ‬بالحكي‭ ‬إلي‭ ‬بحكيه‭ ‬أعطيتها‭ ‬التفاصيل‭ ‬تاعتي‭ ‬لكن‭ ‬طبعا‭ ‬حدود‭ ‬المساعده‭ ‬طلعت‭ ‬محدوده‭ ‬يمكن‭ ‬مش‭ ‬إلي‭ ‬بس‭ ‬ما‭ ‬تركتني،‭ ‬طلبت‭ ‬رقم‭ ‬المسؤوله‭ ‬عني‭ ‬للتواصل‭ ‬معها،‭ ‬صار‭ ‬عندي‭ ‬أمل‭ ‬وعم‭ ‬انتظر‭ ‬للآن،‭ ‬يمكن‭ ‬نسيتني‭ ‬يمكن‭ ‬الملجأ‭ ‬رح‭ ‬يساعدني‭ ‬،يمكن‭ ‬يصير‭ ‬شي‭ ‬،يمكن‭ ‬للآن‭ ‬عم‭ ‬تنتظر‭….‬‮»‬

يواجه‭ ‬مجتمعنا،‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬الكثير‭ ‬من‭ ‬المجتمعات،‭ ‬عددا‭ ‬من‭ ‬التحديات‭ ‬الإجتماعية‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تتراوح‭ ‬بين‭ ‬العنف‭ ‬المنزلي‭ ‬وإدمان‭ ‬المخدرات‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬القضايا‭ ‬العقلية‭ ‬والهجرة‭ ‬والبطالة‭. ‬لقد‭ ‬أتيحت‭ ‬لنا‭ ‬الفرصة‭ ‬لمعرفة‭ ‬المزيد‭ ‬عن‭ ‬عدد‭ ‬منظمات‭ ‬الخدمات‭ ‬الإجتماعية‭ ‬الموجودة‭ ‬في‭ ‬الشهر‭ ‬الماضي‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬قضية‭ ‬استدعت‭ ‬انتباهنا‭ ‬إليها‭.‬

ما‭ ‬اكتشفناه‭ ‬كان‭ ‬صادماً‭ ‬ومحزنا‭ ‬في‭ ‬نفس‭ ‬الوقت‭. ‬يوجد‭ ‬هناك‭ ‬منظمات‭ ‬للخدمات‭ ‬الإجتماعية‭ ‬في‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬العربي‭ ‬والإسلامي،‭. ‬بعضها‭ ‬يعمل‭ ‬داخل‭ ‬مراكز‭ ‬إسلامية‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬دار‭ ‬الهجرة‭ ‬ومركز‭ ‬آدمز،‭ ‬في‭ ‬حين‭ ‬يعمل‭ ‬البعض‭ ‬الآخر‭ ‬بشكل‭ ‬مستقل‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬FAITH،‭ ‬،‭ ‬iMPAC‭ ‬و‭ ‬IKRAM‭. ‬ويتلقى‭ ‬البعض‭ ‬منها‭ ‬منحاً‭ ‬حكومية‭ ‬بينما‭ ‬يعتمد‭ ‬البعض‭ ‬الآخر‭ ‬اعتماداً‭ ‬كاملاً‭ ‬على‭ ‬التمويل‭ ‬الخاص‭. ‬ما‭ ‬يجمع‭ ‬بين‭ ‬كل‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬المنظمات‭ ‬هو‭ ‬كونها‭ ‬موجودة‭ ‬لمساعدة‭ ‬أفراد‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يحتاجون‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬الخدمات‭ ‬الإجتماعية‭.‬

على‭ ‬الرغم‭ ‬من‭ ‬أن‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬المنظمات‭ ‬أو‭ ‬الكيانات‭ ‬موجودة‭ ‬لتقديم‭ ‬الدعم‭ ‬لمن‭ ‬يحتاجه،‭ ‬إلا‭ ‬أنها‭ ‬في‭ ‬كثير‭ ‬من‭ ‬الحالات‭ ‬تكثر‭ ‬عليها‭ ‬الطلبات‭ ‬فوق‭ ‬ما‭ ‬تستطيع‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تلبي،‭ ‬ويبدو‭ ‬أنها‭ ‬تفتقر‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬جانب‭ ‬هام‭ ‬وهو‭ ‬التعاطف‭ ‬مع‭ ‬المحتاجين‭. ‬شهدت‭ ‬حياة‭ ‬واشنطن‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬الأمر‭ ‬بنفسها‭ ‬عندما‭ ‬تلقت‭ ‬مكالمة‭ ‬من‭ ‬امرأة‭ ‬عربية‭ ‬مسلمة‭ ‬تعيش‭ ‬مع‭ ‬طفليها‭ ‬في‭ ‬ملجأ‭ ‬للمتشردين‭ ‬منذ‭ ‬أشهر‭.‬

حاولت‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬المرأة‭ ‬الإتصال‭ ‬بجميع‭ ‬المنظمات‭ ‬المذكورة‭ ‬أعلاه‭ ‬ولكن‭ ‬لا‭ ‬أحد‭ ‬كان‭ ‬قادراً‭ ‬على‭ ‬مساعدة‭ ‬وفي‭ ‬كثير‭ ‬من‭ ‬الأحيان‭ ‬حتى‭ ‬لم‭ ‬يعاود‭ ‬أحد‭ ‬مكالمتها‭. ‬بعد‭ ‬محاولات‭ ‬كثيرة‭ ‬فقدت‭ ‬الأمل‭ ‬في‭ ‬الحصول‭ ‬على‭ ‬المساعدة‭.‬

وكانت‭ ‬الخطوة‭ ‬التالية‭ ‬هي‭ ‬الإتصال‭ ‬بحياة‭ ‬واشنطن‭ ‬لكي‭ ‬تطلب‭ ‬الحصول‭ ‬على‭ ‬وظيفة‭ ‬من‭ ‬أجل‭ ‬مغادرة‭ ‬الملجأ‭ ‬والعيش‭ ‬في‭ ‬مكان‭ ‬خاص‭. ‬أبلغناها‭ ‬بأننا‭ ‬لا‭ ‬نملك‭ ‬وظائف‭ ‬شاغرة‭ ‬ولكننا‭ ‬سنساعدها‭ ‬للحصول‭ ‬على‭ ‬المساعدة‭ ‬المناسبة‭. ‬وبالإضافة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬محاولاتها‭ ‬السابقة‭ ‬بدأنا‭ ‬أيضا‭ ‬بالاتصال‭ ‬ببعض‭ ‬من‭ ‬يعملن‭ ‬في‭ ‬مجال‭ ‬الخدمات‭ ‬الإجتماعية‭ ‬ووعدونا‭ ‬بالإتصال‭ ‬بالمرأة‭ ‬مرة‭ ‬أخرى‭. ‬ولكن‭ ‬لدهشتنا‭ ‬لم‭ ‬يفعلوا‭ ‬شيئاً‭. ‬أرسلنا‭ ‬رسائل‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬منظمات‭ ‬أخرى‭ ‬تدّعي‭ ‬مساعدة‭ ‬الأشخاص‭ ‬المشردين‭ ‬على‭ ‬أساس‭ ‬منتظم‭ ‬ولكنهم‭ ‬تجاهلونا‭. ‬حتى‭ ‬اتصلنا‭ ‬ببعض‭ ‬الأفراد‭ ‬للمساعدة‭ ‬ولكن‭ ‬كل‭ ‬ما‭ ‬حصلنا‭ ‬عليه‭ ‬هو‭ ‬التعاطف‭.‬

نحن‭ ‬نعلم‭ ‬أن‭ ‬منظمات‭ ‬الخدمة‭ ‬الإجتماعية‭ ‬في‭ ‬مجتمعنا‭ ‬تجمع‭ ‬الأموال‭ ‬من‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬وبعضها‭ ‬يحصل‭ ‬على‭ ‬تمويل‭ ‬من‭ ‬الحكومة‭. ‬ومع‭ ‬ذلك،‭ ‬في‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬الحالة‭ ‬اكتشفنا‭ ‬أنها‭ ‬ليست‭ ‬فعالة‭ ‬أو‭ ‬لم‭ ‬يكونوا‭ ‬مهتمين‭ ‬بخدمة‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬الحالة‭ ‬بالذات‭. ‬في‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬الحالات،‭ ‬لا‭ ‬يحتاج‭ ‬الناس‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬المال،‭ ‬ولكن‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬التوجيه‭ ‬والدعم‭ ‬الأخلاقي‭ ‬لحل‭ ‬مشاكلهم‭ ‬الإجتماعية‭. ‬ولكن‭ ‬حتى‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬لم‭ ‬يقدم‭ ‬لهذه‭ ‬المرأة‭ ‬المشردة‭ ‬وطفليها‭.‬

نحن‭ ‬نتسائل‭ ‬كم‭ ‬عدد‭ ‬الحالات‭ ‬المماثلة‭ ‬التي‭ ‬لا‭ ‬نعرف‭ ‬عنها‭. ‬أين‭ ‬تذهب‭ ‬الأموال‭ ‬التي‭ ‬يتم‭ ‬جمعها‭ ‬إن‭ ‬لم‭ ‬تكن‭ ‬تذهب‭ ‬لحالات‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬هذه؟‭ ‬ماذا‭ ‬عن‭ ‬إعطاء‭ ‬التوجيه‭ ‬والموارد‭ ‬والدعم‭ ‬بحد‭ ‬أدنى‭ ‬لأولئك‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬هم‭ ‬يحتاجونهم‭. ‬لماذا‭ ‬هم‭ ‬مهملون‭ ‬هكذا؟‭ ‬ألا‭ ‬يمكنهم‭ ‬على‭ ‬الأقل‭ ‬الرد‭ ‬على‭ ‬المكالمات‭ ‬الهاتفية‭ ‬وتقديم‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬الحلول؟

هذه‭ ‬مسألة‭ ‬لا‭ ‬يمكن‭ ‬تجاهلها‭. ‬نحن‭ ‬نشتبه‭ ‬في‭ ‬أن‭ ‬هناك‭ ‬العديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬الحالات‭ ‬الأخرى‭ ‬التي‭ ‬لم‭ ‬يتم‭ ‬الإبلاغ‭ ‬عنها،‭ ‬فمعظم‭ ‬الناس‭ ‬يشعرون‭ ‬بحرج‭ ‬شديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬تكرار‭ ‬السؤال‭. ‬يتعين‭ ‬على‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬المنظمات‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تكون‭ ‬مسؤولة‭ ‬عن‭ ‬الأموال‭ ‬والموارد‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تملكها‭ ‬وعن‭ ‬كيفية‭ ‬إنفاقها‭. ‬وينبغي‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يكونوا‭ ‬مسؤولين‭ ‬عن‭ ‬عدد‭ ‬معين‭ ‬من‭ ‬الأشخاص‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يساعدونهم‭ ‬كل‭ ‬عام‭ ‬وما‭ ‬هي‭ ‬نتائج‭ ‬عملهم‭. ‬إذا‭ ‬لم‭ ‬نبدأ‭ ‬بمراقبة‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬النوع‭ ‬من‭ ‬النشاط‭ ‬فإن‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬المنظمات‭ ‬ستواصل‭ ‬القيام‭ ‬بالحد‭ ‬الأدنى‭ ‬من‭ ‬المساعدة‭ ‬أو‭ ‬لا‭ ‬شيء‭ ‬على‭ ‬الإطلاق،‭ ‬مثلما‭ ‬فعلوا‭ ‬مع‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬المرأة‭ ‬المشردة‭ ‬وطفليها‭.‬

حاولنا‭ ‬التواصل‭ ‬مع‭ ‬المنظمات‭ ‬المذكورة‭ ‬بهذا‭ ‬المقال‭ ‬للحصول‭ ‬على‭ ‬وجهة‭ ‬نظهرهم‭ ‬ولكن‭ ‬لم‭ ‬يصلنا‭ ‬رد‭ ‬حتى‭ ‬موعد‭ ‬نشر‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬العدد‭.‬