Stephanie Caspelich

Reporting the news that matters.

Archive for May 2012

An Alliance to Help the Refugee Community of Chicago

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Students, supporters, volunteers and refugee families gathered in West Rogers Park on a cold spring day to support the fundraising efforts of a mutual aid agency that has provided outreach and development services since 2002.

Pan-African Association was established to assist refugees and immigrants of African descent with their resettlement needs, especially once the 90-day federal assistance from agencies like Refugee One run out,” said Malik Kemokai, volunteer coordinator and event organizer for Power to Empower. “We have since extended our services to refugees from Iraq and Burma through community-building and life-enriching programs. We have also worked together with the Bhutanese Community Association of Illinois on securing funding from the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Refugee Resettlement, which they started receiving in 2010.”

For the volunteers and employees of the Pan-African Association, a mutual aid agency located at 6163 N. Broadway Ave., the challenges have inspired them to call on their community’s support through the Power to Empower event held Saturday, April 21, at Warren Park.

In 2011, PAA served the needs of over 1200 individual clients. The need is great but funding from federal agencies like HHS and state agencies like the Illinois Department of Human Services has not been enough to support the refugee community. PAA has relied heavily on its 110 volunteers to teach English as a Second Language, assist in work and computer vocational training, mentoring and citizenship and civic education programs, according to Kemokai.

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Nation of Islam

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The activities and message of the Nation of Islam have garnered much controversy over the years. Minister Louis Farrakhan’s appearance at UC Berkeley on March 12 sparked protests because of the “provocative” and “divisive” nature of his speech. His impersonation of an Asian person in relation to a point he was trying to make about immigrants taking away jobs from African-Americans was a classic example of rhetoric that has been denounced by critics for decades as bigoted, homophobic and anti-Semitic.

Although differences amplified in the news have influenced the public’s perception of the religion, ministers like Brother Jason Muhammad focus on the uplifting and restorative nature of the faith, and the similarities between the Nation of Islam and traditional Islam that lie in the “unifying thread” of their root and foundation.

Since it was established in July 1930 in Detroit, Michigan by Wallace Dodd Ford, generally regarded by members as Master Fard Muhammad, the Nation of Islam has been a theological source of community and pride for marginalized African-Americans.

“When you have a group of people who have been destroyed mentally, physically, morally and spiritually, as our people have, and someone comes along to give a word and that totally reverses the condition…well, he’s doing a job nobody else can do,” said Brother Jason, 36, assistant director of the Muhammad University of Islam at 7351 South Stony Island Ave. “We didn’t see value in ourselves until Master Fard Muhammad came for us. Because of his guidance, his servant the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and now with Minister Louis Farrakhan, they have given us from God, just that, value.”

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Written by Stephanie Caspelich

May 2, 2012 at 11:21 am

Maha Shivaratri Dance Offering

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Chef Tsadakeeyah Emmanuel: Changing Lives One Urban Garden At A Time

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The Bronzeville Community Garden on the southeast corner of 51st Street and Calumet Avenue has been a symbol of hope, peace and development for its residents since the gardening project was started by co-builder and designer Chef Tsadakeeyah Emmanuel in 2010.

“The garden is a place for community engagement, community learning on multiple levels,” said Emmanuel, 48, a self-taught chef who specializes in international vegetarian and raw vegan cuisine. “It has become a place where folks who do not normally interact can interact and socialize in a peaceful, nurturing environment.”

Emmanuel’s love for food and community building started as a young boy in Aurora, Wis., a small town 100 miles north of Green Bay. Being close to nature and growing up among dairy farm owners and urban gardeners inspired the budding chef to focus on how food is grown and where it comes from. It gave him a complete understanding of the farm-to-table concept that grew out of America’s heartland.

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GC

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Discovering Ireland one news story at a time.

Stephanie Caspelich

Reporting the news that matters.

natethayer

A compilation of current reporting and archived published work of journalist Nate Thayer