N2N Spotlight: Muslimah’s Against Abuse Center
Cultivating safer spaces for Muslim girls and women.
March 05, 2021
By Aileen Balahadia, Neighbor to Neighbor Program Consultant, and Elaine Chu, Senior Philanthropic Advisor
Rahmo Rashid recalls the first time she was asked to support young Muslim girls in her African community. Her instincts told her they needed to meet in a group, face to face, and in a circle. And so they did, on a Friday night, at their local mosque.
“There were about 8 girls that first time…and we grew into 100+ girls pretty soon after that,” Rahmo shared. “The need was so apparent.”
Neighbor to Neighbor awarded Muslimah’s Against Abuse Center funding in Winter 2021 to support and empower African Muslim women and young girls primarily in South Seattle. The group convenes virtual peace circles intended to be safe places to discuss taboo topics, such as gendered violence, mental health, and the effects of COVID-19. Muslimah’s Against Abuse Center is a first-time awardee of an N2N grant; however, they are not new to this work. They have served the community for many years but have operated primarily through pro bono and volunteer hours. Thankfully, a past grantee – Falis Community Services – referred them to N2N.
Their model is strong because the facilitators have similar lived experiences as the girls they serve. As women, the facilitators know what can happen to young girls without a healthy support system. Abuse, trauma, intergenerational conflict, trouble at school, and an inability to access health resources are just some of the issues that can pile up if there is no place to express the emotion of it all. And with COVID-19, mental health concern is at an all-time high.
“The pressure our girls face from religious leaders, family, and community is what makes this kind of work so important. We want our girls to feel empowered and to speak up against what is wrong. We hope to share tools, education and build friendship and confidence in our peace circles,” Rahma further explained.
Organizers work in small groups to build trust and ensure confidentiality. As a result, participants challenge taboo topics like gendered violence and cultural norms. Even the choice of their organization name was intentional and meant to spur conversation. Their ultimate goal is to name, address, support, and halt abuse in their community. That’s something N2N advisory committee member Gale Picker admires.
“This work is brilliant, and so are their leaders. The work is so critical right now. Who else can reach their community in this way? We need to resource these efforts,” said Picker.
One participant who now serves as a facilitator echoed this sentiment during a site visit with N2N.
“I’d follow Rahmo anywhere. She helped me so much and taught me how to listen to my inner voice and use that to help support others.”
This affirmation brought Rahmo to tears as she smiled and said, “This was not rehearsed, really! I’m so blessed – this why we do this work!”
The full list of N2N’s Winter 2021 grantees are listed below:
- Avole Community Kitchen*: To support a growing Avole Coffee community kitchen in South Seattle by bringing together Black and brown neighborhood entrepreneurs in a central space to apprentice, learn, sell and build community around food.
- Build2Lead**: To engage White Center/Delridge area Black and brown youth in listening sessions to understand how best to address the "COVID-slide" and work directly with Chief Sealth and Denny schools to support change efforts.
- Good Foot Arts Collective*: To develop a campaign led by BIPOC communities rooted in South Seattle called "NO Excuses", an effort to advocate for safety and NO tolerance for violence, sexual misconduct and toxic behavior or abuse in BIPOC youth communities and the Hip Hop street dance community.
- Movemiento AfroLatino Seattle*: To support South Seattle Afro-Latinx and Afro-indigenous youth leadership through artistic creation and exploring racial and cultural identity, particularly anti-Blackness in the context of the movement for Black lives.
- Muslimah’s Against Abuse Center**: To support and empower African Muslim women and young girls primarily in South Seattle by convening virtual peace circles intended to be safe places to discuss taboo topics such as gendered violence, mental health and the effects of COVID-19.
- Oromia Community Center of WA**: To support an emerging umbrella Oromo organization that will unify Oromo groups in South Seattle and beyond by conducting outreach, understanding needs and successes of past Oromo organizations and analyzing possible merger options.
- Paradice Avenue Souf*: To support Black and brown youth artists, anchored at Mt Baker lofts in South Seattle, to organize events, dialogues and action focused on using arts/culture to build solidarity. A mural and a multimedia arts exhibition at the Wing Luke Museum are also part of the effort.
- Queens Project: To support a COVID-19 era South Seattle food hub partnership at Africatown by providing infrastructure, capacity and healthier food distribution to over 700 low income neighbors and communities of color.
- Reclaiming Our Expected End (ROEE): To convene a cohort of Black and brown justice involved or formerly incarcerated people in Kent and South King County in peer driven restorative circles and leadership development workshops.
- Reclaiming Our Greatness*: To engage South Seattle area Black parents and other parents of color around their unique needs and developing community-led supportive childcare and school solutions as they work to influence the school system during COVID-19.
- Ubumwe Womens Association: To encourage youth and reduce COVID-19 isolation amongst a cohort of Rwandese and other East African middle and high school students in the Kent/South King County area through peer mentoring and a group community project.
*First time grantee of N2N
**Also, the first grant ever received by the organization
We invite you to learn more about the history of the Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) program by watching this short video. You can also read about Seattle Foundation’s Center for Community Partnerships, which houses N2N.
Neighbor to Neighbor,