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In this newsletter: 

  1. Letter from Safa Mohamed: These kids can’t, and you shouldn’t.

  2. MY Leaders Climate Justice Team in Action

  3. Leading by Example: These Two Are Becoming Next Generation of Leaders

  4. Time to Play 4 Issa! Hiltop Tigers Begin Play in Fresh New Uniforms

Message From A Board Member: 

'It Seems Unfair to Me That We Can Turn a Blind Eye to These Situations When These Children Literally Cannot'

For Safa Mohamed, Turning Away from the Needy is Unacceptable

Joining MY Reading Warriors (MRW) has been one of the most informative experiences I have had. Though I am a visible and intersectional minority, working on this team as a MRW Executive Committee member for the past three years and now having become Director of MRW, I have also put into perspective my own privilege.

A few weeks ago, one of our students at MRW was very moody. He was generally very aggressive toward any board members who tried to comfort him and was interrupting Yassmin, our Program Development chair, as she led the kids through a reading. I began to get frustrated with his behavior, but it was not until the program was over that I had discovered from Stephanie Bassham, the incredible teacher who works with these kids during MY Project USA’s After-School Program, that a fire recently occurred in the neighborhood where many of MRW’s students live. One of this student’s family members lived where the fire took place and had to be evacuated.

He already has a difficult home situation with his parents, so the fact that this third grader had this much stress added to that broke my heart.

Those of us who volunteer and serve in Wedgewood and similar neighborhoods can ultimately leave. We can come in, help and go back home. What occurs there does not have to be our lives unless we choose our involvement. But these kids do not choose this. This is their reality, and they don’t get to walk away when the program is over and sleep in a queen size bed in a safe neighborhood.

It seems unfair to me that we can turn a blind eye to these situations when these children literally cannot.

I know that time is a commodity so scarce that not everyone has enough to dedicate to service. We all lead busy lives filled with their own conflicts and dramas. But I implore you to expand your story. Your life is so much bigger than what is immediately surrounding you. The world is so much bigger. These children may be outside of the scope of the daily happenings of your life, but you can choose to change that.

Ramadan is a month of deep meditation and reflection. This month, maybe you don’t have the time to donate, but please donate in any way that you can. Don’t turn a blind eye to what happens in your world. These kids can’t, and you shouldn’t.

Safa Mohamed

Director of MY Reading Warriors

Member, Board of Directors, MY Project USA

Youth Development:

MY Leaders Climate Justice Team Connecting To Earth & Learning To Advocate

It's Not Too Late to Get Involved! Join MY Leaders Today!

The next generation of leaders has been hard at work as part of MY Project USA’s MY Leaders program.

These young leaders meet each Saturday at the Hilltop Youth Empowerment Center. Recently, they worked on presentations for gardening, lobbying, hydroponics and compost/food waste management. They also got outdoors and started work on the community garden behind the youth center.

MY Project USA Founder & Executive Director Zerqa Abid created the MY Leaders program with the goal of creating a youth-led organization of boys and girls ages 14-18 who want to make a positive impact on their community. MY Project USA will help train those in the program on how to organize their peers; advocate for themselves and others; work with city, state and community leaders; and how to engage with media. 

MY Leaders is focusing on gun/gang violence and climate justice. Those who are interested in joining should contact Katana Mullen via email at YouthDirector@MYProjectUSA.org.

Special thanks goes to the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio and Youth 2 Youth International for generously sponsoring this project!

Youth Development:

Leading by Example: Sharmarke Abdi and Mukumbira Mukumbira Are Becoming Next Generation of Leaders

Soccer Champions Recently Received the Most Resilient Youth Award from MY Project USA Founder & Executive Director Zerqa Abid

One of the highlights of MY Project USA's recent Interfaith Iftar was when Founder & Executive Director Zerqa Abid called a pair of Hilltop Tigers to the stage. Sharmarke Abdi and Mukumbira Mukumbira, dressed in brand new suits, joined Zerqa and were publically honored with plaques declaring them both the Most Resilient Youth.

It was a long time coming, as Sharmarke and Mukumbira were both scheduled to be given the awards during MY Project USA's annual banquet last November but neither was able to attend.

It has been an eventful 2023 so far for both young men. They are not only returning to the soccer pitch this spring with the Hilltop Tigers, but both boys were also recently spotlighted during a news report by Isabelle Hanson of ABC 6. They both spoke to Hanson about the positive impact they have made since joining MY Project USA.

"I used to hang with the wrong crew, look up to the wrong members," Sharmarke told ABC 6. "Now since this program came up, I’ve been good and on a good path."

Added Mukumbira: "It helps me stay off the street because soccer makes me happy. It makes me stop thinking about my past and what I’m going through."

During Ramadan, both boys have been among the most frequent volunteers with MY Iftar Kitchen. They have packed hundreds of meals and helped deliver them to needy people in the community. We've been touched to see their charitable efforts and are excited to see their continued development.

Hilltop Tigers: 

Time to Play 4 Issa! Tigers Begin Play in Fresh New Uniforms

Despite the rain and gloomy skies on Friday, March 31, it was a bright atmosphere inside at the Hilltop Youth Empowerment Center when the Hilltop Tigers got their first look at their new uniforms for photo day.

MY Project USA turned a conference room at the Hilltop Youth Empowerment Center into a photo studio for the afternoon, and several members of each squad donned their kits and took photos that will be used throughout the spring and summer. Each team has new jerseys this year. The U10 team will wear black, the U12 team will wear orange and the U17 team will don red tops.

Each player got to take individual photos before going into a “freestyle” session where players could show off their creative sides for fun poses. One of the most popular poses came from the U17 team. All players took photos posing with three fingers in the air, honoring their late teammate Issa Jeylani – who wore No. 3 for the Tigers.

We are all very excited to follow the progress of all of our teams this spring and summer. Stay tuned for more fun content!


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

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