Saturday, September 23, 2006

Happy Ramadan!!

Happy Ramadan! Merry Ramadan?! I don’t know what to say, but the holy month of Ramadan started yesterday for the Muslims around the globe. And with all the talk of angry Muslims in the news these days, I thought I would write a little about the Somali families we have here in Columbia, who are both Muslim and NOT angry at all. As most everyone who reads my blog knows, Katie and I have been involved with several of the families from Somalia who have been recently resettled to Columbia (and many other places across the US) from refugee camps in Kenya.

Katie and I and our friend Nicole go over to the apartments of two families every Thursday to tutor. Nicole (and Katie when she can get away from work) tutor several of the adults, and I work with any of the kids that need help with their homework and such. Our friend Ann and I are going to start tutoring the kids on Wednesdays as well and Katie is going to help teach one of the ladies to drive! That’ll be fun, teaching someone who knows very little English how to operate a vehicle (she does have her permit, though, so she obviously knows enough for that). I had my camera with me last week to take some pictures, but I didn’t get any because it was a little chaotic (and 12 year old Khadija didn’t think her hair looked good enough for a photo). So I have no photos yet, but maybe next week I can snap a few to share with you, Dear Readers.

However, I DID get a picture of Aden Mabruk and his friend Abdi, who were all too willing to pose for the camera. Abdi’s on the left and Aden on the right.

Abdi and Aden

I have tutored Aden for about 10 months, and though I am not an official tutor to Abdi, I try to help him a little whenever I get the chance. Both come to the library a lot, as a large chunk of the Bantus live in the northeast area of Columbia, not far from the Cooper Branch of the library where I work. I first started going to Dent Middle School (where Katie works) once a week as a tutor for CIS-M to help Aden with his work back in January, but he is now in high school, so we meet in the library when I get off work and work for about 1 1/2 hours. He is an amazing person and has learned so much in the brief time that I have known him that it is mind-boggling. Before coming to America, he had had very little formal schooling, and within about a year and a half, he has brought himself up to about a 5th grade reading level. Now, this is problematic since he is in high school and I do worry about him becoming frustrated. But all that being said, he is amazing and one of the most dedicated students I have ever seen. He is in the library all the time. He has three or four tutors and he takes classes in Arabic at his mosque. Relentless.

So I hope to have some other pictures sometime soon of the beautiful families we work with. And on a related note, this Monday the Pope is supposed to meet with numerous ambassadors and dignitaries from the Islamic world to try and mend the wounds that his supposed affront to Muslims has created. I think the reaction of the Islamic world was uncalled for but I think it’s a great thing that the Pope has extended this offer. I mean, that’s pretty major, right? I hope it helps facilitate some good earnest dialogue between the two faiths. Lord knows we need it.

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