As we begin the blessed month of Ramadan, a month where we seek to both heighten our spirituality and deepen our engagement with those disadvantaged among us, Project REACH would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of you who made it possible for our youth to travel from DC to Chicago for what proved to be a life-changing experience. 

Our youth began the journey on the night of Thursday June 13th, excited to visit a different city, experience the Takin’ It to the Streets festival, and learn more about the work of IMAN.  In the words of Giovanni "Abdul-Majeed" Little, age 16, "I want to go to Chicago to be around more positive people and do something positive over my summer break. I hear [IMAN] does a lot of good things for the youth, for people coming out of jail. I think seeing it will help me get a better idea of how I can help people around me and do something positive for those around me.”  After a 14 hour car ride, the youth arrived in Chicago just in time for IMAN’s Friday prayers led by Usama Canon, whose khutbah stressed the importance of pure intentions and making positive change in our communities by working for social justice--a perfect kick-off for our time in Chicago. Later that evening, our youth visited IMAN’s offices to to learn about its  various programs, including a memorable visit to IMAN’s new Youth and Wellness Center, where our youth participated in an engaging discussion (facilitated by Youth Director Shamar Hemphill) around challenges facing communities in Southside Chicago, from which parallels were drawn to our communities in Southeast DC. Finally, all day Saturday, at the historic Marquette Park located on Chicago’s Southside--only two months ago the site of one of the many tragic murders in the area--the youth were continually inspired and engaged by the speeches, activities, performances, and numerous other sights and sounds highlighting the momentous Takin’ It to the Streets festival. Seeing talented and dedicated artists, activists, leaders, and scholars come together to promote peace, healing, and social justice through creative expression reinvigorated the youth’s passion to work for change in their own communities.  As Sakinah Abdul-Rahim, age 20, told us, “I hope that we, as Project REACH, can grow and expand to help make this happen [in DC], and I definitely want to be a part of that.

Three weeks later, we are still talking about our memories from the Streets trip.  It has made a lasting, positive mark on our hearts and minds and we have been truly left inspired. We would absolutely not have been able to embark on this blessed trip without yourgenerous support. We wish to express a heartfeltthank you for making our trip to Chicago possible, and we continue to incorporate the youths’ experiences in our weekly Real Talk lessons and discussions.  We hope that you will keep our efforts in your prayers and follow our growth from here:  Like our page onFacebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

P.S. View a video montage of our Streets trip here and browse through some photos from the trip here!

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