Having trouble viewing this email? View it in your web browser

In this newsletter: 

  1. Issa's Letter from Heaven

  2. Dr. Waqas Nawaz Explains 'Why MY Project USA is My Project'

  3. Urgent Need! MY Eid Toys Drive Desperately Needs Your Help!

  4. Get Involved! MY Project USA is Still Looking for Volunteers for MY Iftar Kitchen’s Final Days

  5. MY Project USA is Zakat-Eligible! Help Your Neighbors

  6. Feed a Family For a While with Your $15 Zakat al-Fitr

  7. MY Project USA Aids Wedgewood Resident Organizers in Running First-Ever Event

  8. Dozens Gather for MY Project USA’s First Youth Iftar Dinner

  9. New Weekly ESL Class for Hispanic Community Draws Big Crowd

  10. Helpline: Rent & Utilities Support Information for Clients

  11. MY Deah's Warehouse Donation Bins Locations


Issa's "Letter from Heaven"

Dear Family, 

This is our first Ramadan without our beloved Issa and it has not been easy. Not only that we miss him dearly, but we are also constantly worried about other children in the Hilltop area. In this blessed night, I wanted to share with you this short poem "A Letter From Heaven" by Dr. Waqas Nawaz.

“I loved soccer, and I was a defender, 
but I cannot defend it anymore. 

I was about to start my high school, 
but I cannot attend it anymore. 

Being born in a poor society was my mistake 
A world, where my innocence was at stake.

A world, full of misery and full of hunger
What is meant for me? What is my future? 

Where are my rights, where am I supposed to be?
Do you hear my voice, do you see my agony?

Can't you see me fighting for a life that I don't control?
Can you extend your arms, hug me for a while to console?

I needed that now, before closing my eyes. 
Oh, but it’s late, as before you, the bullets have arrived.

I have to go now; I will be a memory that is archived. 
But let my soccer ball roll and my memory be cherished. 

Let my craze for Cristiano Ronaldo be nourished. 
Let my dreams not shatter and my soul not be vultured

By the monsters of drugs, violence, and racial terror 
Hear my cry, hear my hue.

I am Issa Jeylani, I was one of you"

– Dr. Waqas Nawaz

Please keep Issa in your prayers. May Allah SWT wrap him in His mercy, grant him with the highest ranks of Heaven and grant his family and loved ones peace in his memories. Ameen.  

Please also have help us build the Issa Jeylani Memorial Recreation Center to save other children in this neighborhood from gangs and gun violence. Your donation can save thousands of children for years to come and will help us uplift a very poor community right here in Columbus, Ohio. 

May your prayers and worships are accepted in these last few days of the Holy Ramadan. May God bless you with His bounties and may He always protect and guide your family and loved ones. Ameen.

In solidarity with Youth & Families, 

Zerqa Abid, 

Founder, President and Executive Director, 

MY Project USA

A Message from Dr. Waqas Nawaz: 

“Why My Project USA is My Project”

I have been doing fundraising and philanthropic work for the last six years. In all these years, I have known many people who work for their families and relatives. I have known many people who work for their community and country. But I rarely have met such people whose generosity and kind-heartedness cross the borders of blood relations, nation-states, nationality and religion. I met one such person last month when I visited MY Project USA, and that is Ms. Zerqa Abid. I spent two hours there as the vice president of the Community Association of Pakistani Americans (CAPA) of Central Ohio, in which we were briefed about the progress report of the last eight years. How this foundation has been helping the underprivileged Somali refugee communities of the Hilltop area is commendable. 

Imagine a community of 60,000 refugees who left their homeland because of civil war and poverty and decided to settle in a new land unaware of the challenges that would come across. A community in which 55% of people do not have a high school diploma. In which the median annual income is $6,000 per family. There is crime and poverty. There is food scarcity. A neighborhood where none of us would like to live or raise our kids. In such a neighborhood, this foundation of Zerqa Abid is helping to improve the standard of living of the people who by all means have equal rights to education, employment, food, safety and social respect. 

Before visiting this project site, I was asking myself why I was spending time on issues that are not related to “my own people” and country. But then I asked myself: What is the definition of “My People” as I belonged to a religion that is universal and talks about humanity. I remember the famous saying of an English writer Herbert George Wells who once said: “Crime and bad lives are the measure of a community failure. All the crime, in the end, is the crime of the community.”

Our communities are interlinked and interwoven. We do not live in segregated and discrete societies. If there is a fire in one corner of a forest, then I cannot sway away and excuse myself from the extinguishing efforts saying, “it’s not my headache,” because when the wind would blow, the other corner of the forest, that is my house, would also get burnt one day. Now it is my headache, yes? This is the most worldly, materialistic and objective rationale I can give that why we should be involved in eliminating poverty, hunger, illiteracy and discrimination in this area of Columbus, as these factors lead to bigger vices such as crime, violence, drugs, human trafficking and gang wars, which ultimately affect all of us as they do not discriminate between color, nationality and borders the same way we do.

As far as our religion is concerned, as I said earlier that it is all about humanity which is universal and multinational. It inculcates in us the feelings that can make our hearts pounding and eyes tearful while reading the tragic death of 15-year-old Issa Jeylani as a result of gang violence while playing on the soccer field. 

Moreover, this is an opportunity for our youth to be involved in mentorship and counseling projects and improve their volunteer profile. MY Reading Warriors, MY Family Pantry are the projects where we can dedicate our time once in a while that will not only help this community but help us in nurturing our teaching and leadership skills. 

Indeed, in the last eight years, Zerqa Abid has done work of eight decades. As the representative of the Pakistani community of Ohio, I fully endorse this foundation and its objectives and request that all of us should contribute generously to this foundation. 

Dr. Waqas Nawaz 
Vice President, Community Association of Pakistani Americans 
(CAPA – a nonprofit 501 © 3)

Ramadan Happenings: 

Urgent Need! MY Eid Toys Drive Desperately Needs Your Help!

No Muslim Child Should Go Without on Eid – Please Donate

MY Project USA is urgently looking for donations for this year's Eid Toys Drive. We have had many successful toy drives in the past, and we want this one to be just as successful.

But we need your help!

Eid al-Fitr is a joyous occasion for Muslims around the world, but right here in central Ohio there are thousands of children within our refugee community who do not receive any gifts or toys on the Day of Eid. 

Our goal this year is to distribute at least 2,500 toys and gifts and 750 goody bags. Please sign up now and help us continue to make this a successful event. You can bring toys or donate money.

After you sign up or donate, please share it with others!

Once sign up, you will need to bring wrapped gifts to the Hilltop Youth Empowerment Center (3275 Sullivant Ave.) on or before April 15. 

Make this a happy Eid for every kid!

Ramadan Happenings: 

Get Involved! MY Project USA is Still Looking for Volunteers for MY Iftar Kitchen’s Final Days

We Have Distributed More Than 2,200 Meals So Far!

Thanks to the help of some wonderful volunteers, including Hilltop Tigers coach Mohamed “Speedy” Ahmed and players Sharmarke Abdi and Mukumbira Mukumbira, MY Project USA has been able to deliver approximately 120 meals to the needy each day during Ramadan.

Through Monday, April 11, the total number of meals delivered is approximately 2,280. We are so very thankful to be able to continue this project each year, and it is not possible without our volunteers who bring food, help pack meals and/or help deliver the food across the west side of Columbus. We are also very thankful to all of those who have donated money to help make MY Iftar Kitchen a reality.

We still have open slots for volunteers through the end of this year’s MY Iftar Kitchen, which will conclude on Tuesday, April 18. Please volunteer if possible!

Ramadan Happenings: 

MY Project USA is Zakat-Eligible! Help Your Neighbors

MY Project USA is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization. We serve local refugees, orphans, slaves, victims of abuse and other needy and poor neighbors in the Columbus and Dayton areas in Ohio. We are Zakat-eligible because it falls into six of the eight categories of Zakat as commanded by Allah SWT in the following verse of Quran.

“Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect (zakah) and for bringing hearts together (for Islam) and for freeing captives (or slaves) and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the (stranded) traveler – and obligation (imposed) by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.” (Quran 9:60)

• MY Project USA Fits 6 of 8 Criteria of Zakat •

  • Categories No. 1 & 2: “for poor and for the needy” – This applies because we are helping poor local and refugee Muslim families.
  • Category No. 4: “bringing hearts together” – This applies because we serve all needy people regardless of their faith, ethnicity or race. We also work with individuals that are attracted to Island and Muslims and prefer working with us to learn more.
  • Category No. 5: “freeing captives” – This applies because we are addressing human trafficking, the modern-day slavery, prevention and intervention. Our focus is to free sex slaves from bondage and help them reestablish a life of their own.
  • Category No. 6: “paying the debt” – This applies because we take care of families, single moms and family violence victims dealing with debts and financial instability.
  • Category No. 7: “the cause of Allah” – This applies because we are protecting and empowering Muslim youth and families in America. Through our work, we are addressing drugs, gangs, violence, suicides, radicalization, homelessness and hunger through capacity-building of the individuals and the community. Through the documentation and publicity of our work, we week to address Islamophobia as well. Our goal is to preserve Islam and Muslim communities in America at its best.
Ramadan Happenings: 

Feed a Family For a While with Your $15 Zakat al-Fitr

Zakat al Fitr is a mandatory charity for wealthy Muslims to give out before offering the Eid prayers.

This Eid, MY Project USA would like to amplify your Zakat to help feed over 300 families this Ramadan.

You can put smiles on the faces of a family in need this holy month. Help us make this Eid pantry the best yet! Donations can only be accepted through Wednesday, April 19.

With just a $15 contribution, we can distribute the following on your behalf to one family:

  • 22 oz. of Vegetable Oil
  • 10 lb of Rice
  • 3 lb of Spaghetti
  • 5 lb of Flour
  • 4 lb of Sugar

If you are unable to donate at this time, please consider sharing our fundraiser on Facebook! Small acts like this can go a long way in assisting our mission.

Other Ways to Pay:

  • Pay By Check: Please make checks payable to MY Project USA and send them to 3275 Sullivant Ave. Columbus, OH 43204
  • You can pay on our website here: MYProjectUSA.org/donors
  • Zelle Direct Deposit ID: info@myprojectusa.org
  • Venmo ID: MYProjectUSA

Please email us at info@myprojectusa.org if you have any questions or comments about your donations to MY Project USA.

MY Project USA in the News: 

MY Project USA Aids Wedgewood Resident Organizers in Running their First-Ever Event

Easter Egg-A-Palooza Brings Community Together with More to Come!

MY Project USA was very honored to help a group of Wedgewood resident organizers with their first-ever event this past weekend!

The group hosted an "Easter Egg-A-Palooza" on Saturday for residents at the Wedgewood Village Apartments. MY Project USA helped organize the event, but the residents took center stage when the event took place. Children hunted for candy-filled easter eggs, a DJ played music and there was a delicious cookout as well. It was a wonderful time, and we are so very proud of the resident organizers and all of their hard work.

Anna Hoffman of NBC 4 attended the event and filed a report you can find here.

“We are all dedicated,” Wedgewood resident organizer Christina McDaniel told NBC 4. “We’ve been here for the last three months together trying to work and get this together. We did our planning, we’ve been trying to get this council started by any means necessary.”

MY Project USA is very proud to support the resident organizers and their efforts. 

“These are the change makers that we have been waiting for,” MY Project USA Founder & Executive Director Zerqa Abid told NBC 4.

The resident organizers will now turn their attention toward their next planned event – a community-wide block party scheduled for Saturday, April 22. MY Project USA will proudly help in any way possible as we all work to improve life in Wedgewood.

“We would like everybody to come together to make it safer for the kids because the kids are our future,” Wedgewood resident organizer Melissa Coleman told NBC 4.

Youth Empowerment:

Turkish, Afghani, Somali, Somali Bantu Youth Leaders Break the Bread Together for the First Time at MY Project USA’s First Youth Iftar Dinner

More Than 50 Attend, Future Leaders Hear from Inspiring Speakers

MY Project USA, in collaboration with the Muslim American Society (MAS) of Columbus and the Turkish American Society of Ohio (TASO), hosted a Youth Iftar Dinner on Monday, April 10 at the Hilltop Youth Empowerment Center.

More than 50 people were in attendance for the dinner, which was created for youths from eighth grade through college. There were icebreaker activities, games and networking and a delicious dinner, of course.

Three speakers also gave inspiring speeches. Rep. Munira Abdullahi from the Ohio House of Representatives; Abdulmajid Liban, Committee Member of MY Project USA; and MY Project USA Founder & Executive Director Zerqa Abid all spoke to the attendees.

A special thank you goes out to MY Project USA Youth Program Director Katana Mullen for organizing this event! This was the first-ever event in Columbus to put so many different demographics and youths from different organizations together in one room.

We thank all of those who attended for making the event a huge success. Thanks again to MAS Columbus & TASO for their support.

Community Development:

New Weekly ESL Class for Hispanic Community Draws Big Crowd

Tuesday Classes Are the Latest Endeavor of Partnership Between MY Project USA & Alianza 614

It was a standing-room-only crowd at the Hilltop Youth Empowerment Center on Tuesday, April 4 for the first Hispanic-focused English as a Second Language (ESL) class at the Hilltop Youth Empowerment Center.

The classes, which are the latest venture in the partnership between MY Project USA and Alianza 614, will be held each Tuesday. We look forward to seeing the progress of all of the students!

MY Helpline:

Rent & Utilities Support Available At MY Project USA

We have been working very hard in securing grants and building collaboration with other partners to help our clients. Thanks to The Columbus Foundation, United Way of Central Ohio, and IMPACT Community Action, we are still able to help more of our families with their rent and utilities. If you or someone you know needs help, please ask them to contact us at (614) 905-0977 or helpadmin@myprojectusa.org.

MY Deah's Warehouse:

8 Locations In Columbus To Drop Off Donations – Truck Pick-Up Available For Large Donations

You can now drop off your donations of new and gently used clothes, shoes, books, toys and other small non-breakable items in a donation box near you. These locations include: 

  • Noor Islamic Cultural Center –  5001 Wilcox Rd. Dublin, OH 43016
  • Masjid Nimrah – 4501 Refugee Rd. Columbus, OH 43232
  • MAS Youth Center – 4615 Northtowne Blvd. Columbus, OH 43229
  • Turkish American Society of Ohio (TASO) – 2885 W. Dublin Granville Rd. Columbus, OH 43235
  • Ahlul Bayt Society – 2580 W. Dublin Granville Rd. Columbus, OH 43235
  • The First Congregational Church – 444 E. Broad St. Columbus, OH 43215
  • MY Deah's Warehouse – 4004 Fondorf Dr. Columbus, OH 43228. (Business Hours Only)
  • Global Gifts & Thrift – 4730 Cemetery Rd. Hilliard, OH 43206. (Business Hours Only)

We are looking for more locations. If interested in helping us or have any other questions, please contact us at warehouse@myprojectusa.org.


Share This


MY Project USA
3275 Sullivant Ave | Columbus, Ohio  43204
614-905-0977 | info@myprojectusa.org

Follow Us

Unsubscribe or Manage Your Preferences