The Zoubai Family: Escaping the Horror of the Iraq War Only to Live Empty-Handed in the U.S.
Having come from Iraq, the Zoubai family had witnessed many horrors of war which had left the family traumatized. The Zoubai family consists of parents and seven boys ages 5 to 15. Mohammad Zoubai is disabled while his wife Ezel suffers from severe depression among other health issues. Coming to America as refugees from a war-torn country was supposed to be a relief. However the Zoubai family’s experience is far from it. Due to his inability to work, Br. Zoubai feels a sense of powerlessness and shame when he has to choose to either pay his rent or buy food for the family at the end of the month. He usually has to sell some of his food stamps in order to afford to the rent on the run-down apartment they live in, located on the North side of Chicago. This family relies on school breakfast and lunch to feed these children. School breaks and especially summer break is a big problem for the family as schools are closed, making their already impoverished conditions worse. The simple task of feeding the children becomes a sad challenge.
This family endures humiliation on a daily basis because of their poverty. They constantly have to avoid questions from neighbors and friends about why they are unable to replace their torn sofas, why they cannot afford better clothes and why they sleep on the floor rather than beds. They would rather prefer to isolate themselves in loneliness from everybody and suffer quietly. One of the boys told Dr. Rabia Zizine, who works at ICNA Relief's food pantry located in the North side of Chicago, where he lives does not feel like a home. This young boy feels his family is homeless.
"My older sons argue with us and ask why did you have us [if you couldn't afford to]?" Sr. Ezel said. Dr. Rabia said she saw the children firsthand asking their friends to borrow simple items such as a pair of pants. Their mother relates that once the boys found a bottle filled with liquid outside their window and even took a sip before discovering it was beer.
Alhumdulillah, after reaching out to the local network of donors, ICNA Relief through Dr. Rabia was able to collect many items to help alleviate the Zoubai family. They received a set of sofas with tables, five beds, a dining room set, dishes, crockery, a fan, an air conditioner, sheets, blankets, pillows and other random items. The donors also bought decorative items to brighten up Sr. Ezel's living room and make the place homey. In addition, the family was given a one month's supply of groceries including meats, fruits, vegetables, milk, etc among other staples.
The boys were so ecstatic after receiving clothes and shoes that their mother said they didn't sleep all night going through them. The bunk beds have given these boys so much joy for the first time in years. Now, they are looking forward to doing their homework using the table and chairs given to them that will help them educate themselves to a better future. Br. Ashar Qadri from Young Muslims, ICNA's youth wing, to provide mentoring for the growing boys.
"The family was very grateful for the help ICNA Relief was able to provide them with," Sr. Rabia said.
ICNA Relief Holds Back 2 School Giveaways Across Atlanta
Alhumdulillah, ICNA Relief Atlanta kicked off our annual Back 2 School Giveaway this year with events in four locations.
1) On August 1st, D.H Stanton Elementary school invited ICNA Relief Atlanta to support and distribute backpacks filled with school supplies to low-income children in their school residential zone. ICNA Relief Asst. Director Br. Abdul Rauf attended this event and had a brief discussion with principal Dr. Clara Taylor as well.
2) For the very first time Atlanta's Mayor's office invited ICNA Relief to participate in their yearly Back 2 School Expo at Adamsville Recreation Center held on August 2nd. Many big companies like Staples, Chick-Fil-A and nonprofit organizations like HOSEA and Fountain of Hope participated in this event as well. ICNA Relief distributed backpacks and school supplies to needy children in this event. Br. Hamid Qureshi met Atlanta City councilmen C.T. Martin and Andre Dickens at the event.
3) On August 5th, ICNA Relief Atlanta also arranged a backpack distribution at the Gainesville, Atlanta Masjid. Gainesville school board member Mr. Willie Mitchell along with local Masjid Imam Bilal distributed more than 50 backpacks to families with ICNA Relief staff.
4) The August 7th Back 2 School Giveaway was held at Baitul Salam in Stone Mountain, GA. ICNA Relief Atlanta including Br. Hamid and Br. Uzair distributed more than 30 backpacks to local families in need.