Blessed With Islam

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BLESSED WITH ISLAM
Tara bint Curtis Gregory
October 26, 2002

I was born and raised in the Midwest, but both sides of my family are from the South. They are Christians and as far as I know I am the only one blessed with Islam. My mother was
raised as a Baptist Christian and later switched to Methodist. My father died when I was 19, one year before I became Muslim, so I never had a chance to understand what sect of
Christianity he was from. I do know that his father was Baptist and his mother was Catholic but switched to Baptist after she married my grandfather. My mother believes in God and
so did my father, they taught my siblings and I that there IS a God. They didn’t force us to become Christians and we were never baptized. My brother doesn’t believe in God…at
least that is the impression that I get from him. My sister believes in God but is confused as to which sect of Christianity she should belong to. I, however, was left upon the fitrah. I
did not have a religion and called myself non­denominational. I believed in God, that He was everywhere (in His knowledge) and that He was a light. I prayed only to Him and I didn’
believe that Jesus was the son of God. I read the first three pages of the Bible and put it down because it was confusing and hard to understand. I think that this early experience
helped ease my transition to becoming a Muslim.

After I met my ex­husband I was so interested to know about Muslim culture and counrties and especially Muslim women. I was like a sponge soaking up water in my pursuit of
Islamic knowledge. I could never get enough! I read Islam for about five years before I made the first trip to Morocco. I would talk to the natives and they were tickled pink to know
that I knew the history, culture, and most importantly the religion of their country. One Moroccan made a comment that I sounded like I was already a Muslim, alhamdullilah. Back in
America, I remember I used to watch my ex­husband pray in the bedroom and I would sit up on the bed and watch him. It was very nice to observe. At other times I would
accompany him to the mosque. I would go sit in the back of the women’s prayer area and watch them praying. And when everyone said “ameen” together there was a shiver that
went up my spine. What a wondeful practice and I felt so left out! There was something missing from my life.

My ex­husband gave da’wah to me and told me that he was afraid that I was going to hell unless I became a Muslim. Maybe this type of approach would scare others away from
Islam but it worried me. Meanwhile I was still reading about Islam and suddenly one day I asked my ex­husband out of the blue to teach me how to pray. He agreed and drew
illustrations but sometimes he was too impatient with me. However I do thank him for enlightening me. I declared to him that the next time we go to the mosque I was ready to take
shahada. And May 1996 that is exactly what happened! The Imam and my ex­husband witnessed my shahada. At the time I struggled to repeat the kalimah in Arabic but I said it in
English too. A feeling of peace came over me and I felt as if a great weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.

I was very happy and wanted to announce to everyone that I was Muslim! But when I told my mother and sister they were angry and ganged up on me. They said that I chose Islam
over them and accused my ex­husband of brainwashing or forcing me to convert. How funny since I had no religion before! And how scary because this coming from the people I
loved the most. I cried but was adamant and wouldn’t leave the fold of Islam.

For a while my mother didn’t believe that I was Muslim and had stopped eating pork. She would try to tempt me with pepperoni pizza or ham, two of my favorite foods before I
became Muslim. In spite of my mother and sister’s disapproval of my new religion they never stopped talking to me or disowned me as often happens to new reverts. These days
they are more understanding and accepting. They realize that in the beginning they were wrong in believing that my ex­husband forced me to Islam because now I am divorced from
him and still Muslim alhamdullilah. Finally, they recognize that it has brought about only good changes in my life.

And no matter what bad happens to me I will never leave Islam insha’Allah. I live for Allah and when I die I hope that His name is on my lips before I take my last breath.

Why I Wore Hijab Then Niqab

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WHY I WORE HIJAB THEN NIQAB
By Tara Gregory
27 May 2008

Three years after becoming Muslim, I finally succumbed to the fact that hijab was obligatory. I had been wearing hijab for three years when I compiled “Why I Wear Hijab Not Niqab”. If anyone had told me that I’d wear niqab a year after I wrote that article, I wouldn’t have believed them. *See footnote*

It all started in Ibri, Oman. A dear friend, Khadija Oum Abdul-Aziz, invited me to stay with her and her family at their village. I readily accepted and left Muscat for this conservative little town in the northeast region of the country. On the bus ride to Ibri, I sat in the front seat to the right of the bus driver for safety because I was alone and without a mahram. Despite my fears of being harassed, nobody ever bothered me alhamdulillah.

Khadija picked me up and took me back to her house. While chatting with Khadija, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that her
driver kept looking at me in the rear-view mirror. He was probably having a field day seeing the unveiled face of a non-mahram woman. Even though he was an older brother, I still felt uncomfortable.

This was one of the first of many instances of feeling uncomfortable when out and about in Ibri. Whenever I accompanied Khadija around town, most of the men would stare unabashedly at me. It wasn’t that I was gorgeous, I do alright, but I think it was my light skin and uncovered face that attracted so much attention. I have never liked to draw attention to myself and was constantly embarrassed. I also stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the veiled women and was very conscious of the fact that I looked like a foreigner.

I yearned to wear niqab. I wanted to hide behind its anonymity from the prying eyes of those men who lacked the willpower to stop gazing at my face. I realized that being more modest could help bring me closer to the pleasure of Allah. The man who would later become my husband desired that I wear niqab. I viewed satisfying his request as another way to please Allah.

From time to time, Khadija and I discussed wearing niqab. She instilled courage in me and was an ideal role model being a niqabi herself. One day she gave me an extra niqab which I still have to this day, barakAllahu feehaa ameen. I was excited and waited until I could try it on in private. Flipping back the top layers, I was stunned by the reflection in the mirror. A mysterious woman looked back at me as I admired her in her niqab masha’Allah. Was this woman really me?

I liked it alhamdulillah! The material was Saudi cotton gauze which made it easier to breathe, a plus in hot weather. Now I was incognito, nobody I didn’t know could recognize me. I blended in with the local women and strangers spoke to me in Arabic, not realizing that I was (gasp) American! Niqab covered my blemishes when I was having a bad face day. I was empowered, nobody could see my face without my permission. What a blessing not to have my face on display for those men who couldn’t or wouldn’t lower their gaze. You can’t see me, nananana boo boo.

I liked it so much I continued to wear it when I moved to Bahrain 2 months later. For those who know, Bahrain is very modern Muslim country. Not too many women wear niqab. For those who do, there is a suspicion that they might be prostitutes. Some prostitutes are known for doing business while using the niqab as a disguise to trick the police. I was chased by men although I was covered from head
to toe in black, with the exception of my eyes and hands. This mostly happened whenever I walked in public alone. Unfortunately, I had to take my niqab off while working in a mixed gender international school. I worked there during my last three months in Bahrain and wore it off and on.

Back in the US, my iman was not high enough to wear the niqab so I kept it off. I didn’t feel brave enough to wear it in a non-Muslim country. Shallow excuses, I know. I felt guilty not wearing it and strived to be like the few niqabis I saw in Missouri. They looked so beautiful and confident masha’Allah. It seemed that nothing prevented them from donning what they had the freedom to wear. Even though I constantly strived to wear niqab, I cared too much about what my family and strangers would think of me and not enough of what Allah thought of me. I worried that I would bring harm to myself from Muslim haters when I should have trusted in Allah that He would protect me.

Now that I’m in Saudi Arabia, I feel that Allah has given me a second chance. I couldn’t imagine not wearing niqab here. And if I ever return to the US, I hope that I can wear my niqab with pride while fearing Allah and not His creation.

I’d like to conclude this article by reminding other sisters that no matter how we decide to cover, we all have one thing in common and that is being a Muslimah in this glorious Din al-Islam (Religion of Islam.) Amongst us Muslim women there is the one who doesn’t cover at all because she doesn’t think it is obligatory; the one who doesn’t cover and is striving to; the hijabi who covers everything except her face and hands; the hijabi who is striving for niqaab; the niqaabi that believes covering everything is wajib and the niqaabi who believes it is only encouraged. Who is the best? The one that is the most pious. Which one is the most pious? Allah Knows Best!

*13 August 2011 update: My current views on niqab is that it is mustahabb and wajib in some circumstances. I have deleted the contents of the article, “Why I Wear Hijab Not Niqab” because I do not wish to be associated with it any longer. There is a webmaster of a website called, Islam For Today, who still has my old article up but I can’t reach him through the email address he lists on the website. His name is Hussein Abdulwaheed Amin so if anyone knows current contact details for him please email me. If you find it on other websites/blogs, please alert me at taraummomar at gmail dot com so that I can request it be taken down insha’Allah. JazakumAllahu khair, Tara Umm Omar

This article was mentioned at BintMokhtar, I Love Hijab

The Muslim Woman

4bcf6-slide1By Tara Umm Omar
Copyright 21 June 2001

In Arabic you can call her Amatullah which in English means female slave of Allah.

The Muslim woman is the most liberated woman on earth.

When you look at her you are forced to judge her not based upon her physical appearance but her intellect. She does not conform to the fashion craze therefore she escapes being labeled as a sexual object. Instead she conforms to the laws that Allah Most High commanded.

The look of peace and happiness on her face defies the stereotype that she is “oppressed.” And how could she be oppressed when she competes for the pleasure of Allah Most High rather than men?

The veil on her head does not measure her intelligence no more than it does for a Christian nun. It measures her level of modesty. For the Muslim woman, the veil signifies her love and respect for Allah Most High. In return, she is protected from molestation and her honor is guarded. Her beauty is hid from the prying eyes of men and saved for her husband. If you had a rare diamond, would you display it for all to see or would you want to safeguard it?

You ridicule the Muslim woman in the summer time because she is covered head to toe, sometimes even her face is not shown. Perhaps you speculate that she must be hot. Of course she is hot but she knows hell is hotter. Maybe you would change your mind if you knew that for every drop of sweat the Muslim woman sheds because of her veiling, she is going to be rewarded for it insha’Allah. This is what encourages her and gives her strength.

While feminists in non-­Muslim societies have been fighting for their rights to be equal to men the Muslim woman achieved this status of equality over 1400 plus years ago. In Islam, men and women are already equal it is just that they were created for different roles and responsibilities. Therefore, the Muslim woman doesn’t have to demonstrate her physical prowess in order to be considered capable of performing a man’s job. Non-­Muslim women are working the same job as their male counterparts but getting paid less. So much for the fight for equality!

The Muslim woman is the shepherd of her home so this frees her of the responsibility to work. Her husband is the one that provides for her, their family and household. This does not mean that she is totally confined to the home, she can go out for her needs as long as she is observing the dress of modesty. So what if a Muslim woman wants to work? Whatever she earns is hers to keep and her husband can’t take it without her permission. Sounds good? Not only is her money off limits to her husband, she doesn’t even have to pay the bills.

And how is the status of the Muslim woman in Islam? As a mother she ranks third after Allah Most High and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. All Muslims are instructed to take care of their mother, their mother, their mother and then their father. The treatment of the Muslim woman by her children is to put her in such high regard that they must pass under her feet in order to get to Heaven. She is awarded this special status because she bears her children upon nine months of hardship and rears them upon hardship.

What a privileged life Islam offers for the Muslim woman thanks be to Allah Most High! Next time you see a Muslim woman maybe you won’t pity her….you will envy her. If you are a non-­Muslim woman reading this, I invite you to become a Muslim Woman.

Photo credit: Precious Muslimah

taraummomarsignature2

 

Zakiyyah: A True Story

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ZAKIYYAH: A TRUE STORY
By Tara bint Curtis Gregory (Umm Omar)
November 25, 2005
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Zakiyyah was a Moroccan Muslim woman who lived with me for six months. This letter was written to encourage Muslim women not to delay wearing hijab.

“Maybe you will return to Morocco in a coffin.” Zakiyyah’s mother predicted. But this did not deter Zakiyyah from her strong desire to immigrate to America. Neither did the fact that
her mother was bed­ridden and dying.

I met Zakiyyah and her family on two separate trips to Morocco. She was the youngest sister of my ex­husband’s best friend. When she won the US immigration lottery, her family
asked my ex­husband and me to host her in the United States. We promised them that we would look after her.

In Morocco, Zakiyyah always wore a jellabah but not hijab. The day we picked her up at the airport, she was not even wearing a jellabah. Since then I had always attempted to
gently advise her of the obligations to wear hijab and don more modest clothing. She would assure me that she would wear hijab after she got married. Her reason for this delay
was so that a brother could see how she really looked without hijab. I tried to reason with her because this was not a valid excuse but she replied that, “It’s in my heart. I always pray
to Allah to guide me.” I warned her that she could die before she ever got the chance to wear hijab. In the end, I knew it was up to Allah to guide her.

Shortly after Zakiyyah’s arrival to the United States, her mother died. May Allah have mercy on her ameen. Zakiyyah was distraught and I comforted her as best as I could.

One morning Zakiyyah related a dream about her mother. She said that her mother was at the top of some stairs, beckoning for Zakiyyah to come to her. Zakiyyah was crying as
she told me that she had wanted to ascend the stairs and hug her mother but didn’t. She seemed convinced that the dream was an important message and she asked me to
interpret it but I had no explanation for her. However I thought to myself, perhaps it was guilt at having left her mother and not being able to see her before she died. Allah knows
best.

Within the next two months Zakiyyah’s older half sister, Farida, died. May Allah have mercy on her ameen. I was particularly sad at her passing. She was deaf and mute but I had
been able to relate to her because I am hearing impaired. The language barrier was never a problem for the two of us and somehow we understood each other. “Insha’Allah she is
with your mother in Heaven.” I consoled Zakiyyah, patting her back.

Three months later I was the one who needed consoling. I struggled to read the news clipping that my sister had emailed me:

Article 1 of 1
LAW & ORDER
St. Louis Post­Dispatch (MO)
January 24, 2002
Section: METRO
Edition: FIVE STAR LIFT
Page B2
Word count: 752
ID#: 0201240286
ST. LOUIS COUNTY

Woman walking to bus stop is hit, killed crossing Lemay Ferry Road

Zakia Bentahar, 32, of south St. Louis County, was killed Wednesday when she was struck by an SUV while walking across Lemay Ferry Road on her way to work. Police said
Bentahar, of the 4100 block of Tanqueray Court, was walking to a bus stop about 6 a.m. when a full­sized Ford Bronco hit her near Clayridge Drive. Bentahar, an immigrant from
Morocco, was on her way to work at the Clean The Uniform Co.

What the newspaper didn’t relay was the SUV that hit Zakiyyah dragged her down a hill before it came to a complete stop. My ex­husband had to identify her body and said he
couldn’t recognize her. For a month her body lay in cold storage at the morgue, waiting for her family to raise enough money to fly it back to Morocco in the coffin which her mother
had eerily predicted she would return in eight months before. May Allah forgive Zakiyyah ameen.

What really hurts is that Zakiyyah died that morning without hijab. If you are a Muslim sister reading this and you don’t wear hijab, please take heed. Zakiyyah thought she would liv
long enough to start wearing hijab after marriage. Will you live long enough after reading this story to wear hijab?

On the authority of Abdullah bin Omar: The son of Omar used to say, “At evening do not expect [to live till] morning, and at morning do not expect [to live till] evening. Take from you


health for your illness and from your life for your death.” Related by Bukhari, Hadith An­Nawawi #40

The Day Mama Died

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THE DAY MAMA DIED
By Tara Umm Omar
Copyright © November 29, 2006

I wrote this to help me cope with the death my non­Muslim mother. It is my fervent hope that both non­Muslim and Muslim readers will endeavor to strengthen the bond they alread

have with their mothers. Or if they have a bad relationship, they should strive to initiate a reconciliation with them before it’s too late. Dear Readers, please do so today because you
may not have the chance tomorrow.

I returned to Missouri from Bahrain with my infant son, Omar, in December 2004. It had been two years since I saw my family. When I first saw my mother at the airport, I was
shocked because she looked older than her 54 years. I didn’t know then that she was so sick and she hid the nature of her illness from my sister and me very well.

I intended to stay with my mother and sister until I got a visa to join my husband in Saudi Arabia. Their apartment was small and we didn’t have a lot of money but we were happy to
be together.

Since I was breastfeeding Omar, I chose not to work and my mother couldn’t work due to a brain tumor. We were able to spend a lot of time together. Our relationship had its ups a
downs. Most of our disagreements came from discussing Islam. If we had a argument, we didn’t stay mad at each other for long.

After a year, I noticed my mother was disoriented and sometimes her speech was unintelligible. She kept losing her balance and dropping things. She always had a bad cough,
congestion and nosebleeds. She was vomiting, spitting up blood and her body swelled from her feet to her stomach. My mother stopped taking care of her hair and hygiene which
was unusual for her. I could feel that my mother was dying and I confided this to my sister who agreed. We wanted to talk to her doctors about her deteriorating health but didn’t
think they would divulge medical information because of patient confidentiality.

When I received my visa to Saudi Arabia, I was torn between going back to my husband and staying with my ailing mother. I didn’t want to be selfish but I also didn’t want to lose
this opportunity after praying on it for four years.

The day before I left the United States, my sister advised me to say my last goodbye to my mother. She didn’t need to explain why. However I was optimistic that my mother would
overcome her illness. My mother deceived me with her forbearance and strong composure. She gave me the false impression that she would survive long enough for me to see
her again.

Shortly after I arrived in Saudi Arabia, my mother’s health worsened. We discovered that she had Hepatitis C, internal bleeding, an ulcer on her tongue, and a leg movement
disorder.

I wrote my mother a letter while she was in the hospital:

Dearest Mama,

On a cold day in January you were blessed to be the mother of a baby girl named Tara. Four years later it was discovered that she was hearing impaired. This didn’t make you
love her any less and you dedicated your life to helping her hear. She was able to attend regular schools and graduated from university. This wouldn’t have been possible without
Allah and then you. Your caring and sacrifice is still remembered to this day. I’ll be forever grateful to you for the woman I became.

A good friend of mine thanked you for raising such a special person like me. I could only hope that I do as good a job with Omar as you did with me. It was the mercy of Allah that
you and Omar got to know each other for almost two years. I appreciated it when you watched him for me although you didn’t always feel like it. I did benefit from the unending
advice you gave me on his upbringing even when I thought I knew better as his mother.

When I was in Bahrain I used to wish I could hug you and it was fulfilled. I’m wishing the same wish again in Saudi Arabia. I don’t know what the future holds but I wish it would find
me hugging you again, Allah willing.

I want you to know that I’m sorry if I ever hurt or offended you. I need to know that you accept my apology and forgive me.

Nafel, Omar and I love you very much. May Allah cure you ameen.

My mother said she forgave me even though there was nothing to forgive.

On 27th of October 2006, I received a text message from my sister that my mother might not make it past the night. I got on Yahoo messenger as soon as I could and my sister
described for me what was happening. My mother’s saturation levels were dropping and she was struggling to breathe. Her liver stopped functioning and she had pneumonia. My
hands were shaking as I instructed my sister to tell our mother I loved her but my sister said she wasn’t aware that anyone was there. I asked my sister to hold my mother’s hand
for me, to smooth her hair and give her a kiss. She readily complied and I felt a deep sadness that I couldn’t do it.

I prayed for my mother, crying and begging Allah to forgive her and bestow His mercy on her. When my sister told me that our mother was gone, I replied, “From Allah we come
and to Him we return.”

Dealing with my mother’s death was hard in the beginning. I worried about her and prayed to Allah for a sign that she was ok. Thereafter tranquility descended upon me and it
became easier to accept her passing.


Reading the last letter she wrote to me and seeing her handwriting helps with the healing process:

Our dearest Tara, as you came in, you are leaving out. May the Grace of God watch over you and my grandson. We thank you for coming to visit. We will always see and hear you.
We love ya’ll very dearly. Thank you for your help and giving. May God take you and Omar in safety. We will see you again soon. “Love Mama”

This is how I wish I could have replied to her letter:

Dearest Mama,

Thank you for giving birth to me and taking care of me all of those years. What I gave to you and helped you with could never add up to what you did for me. I just left out of
Missouri and you left out of this world but not out of my heart. I see you in me whenever I look at myself in the mirror. In my mind I hear your voice and laughter. The prayer of a
parent for a child is always granted, we arrived unharmed in Saudi Arabia. My prayer for you…

May Allah let me see you again in Paradise ameen.

Charity Calls

Charity calls
Nicola Shipway, June 25, 2008


Sami suffers from mirror dyslexia and a depressive condition called bipolar disorder. Before he joined the Creative Learning Center last autumn, Sami had nowhere to go, having been expelled from school after school. But a year at the centre has worked wonders. Today, Sami, aged 14, is able to multiply and read books for fifth graders (a year ago he could hardly read or write).

Another pupil, Hamid, who is autistic, has also come on leaps and bounds, and is now able to sit still for ten or 15 minutes where once he couldn’t manage longer than two seconds. The Creative Learning Center has improved the quality of these boys’ lives; suddenly their future looks better than before, though it might not remain so – if the centre fails to find funds, it may be forced to close.

Education in place of prejudice “The thing is that there is no place for these children if we have to close,” says Kawthar al Hadhrami, chief executive manager of the centre, which provides special education for children with special needs. “We need someone to step up and say, we’ll pay the fees for these many children. We were hoping to be able to rely on donations. We are asking for them now.”

Since the centre opened last year, donations and volunteers have been elusive, which possibly reflects society’s tendency to discriminate against children with special needs. During her association with the centre, Kawthar has encountered vehement prejudice. “I’ve had people ring and make, ‘These children are better off dead’ kinds of comments.”

The centre: what it does The Creative Learning Center teaches children aged four to 21 with Down’s syndrome, autism and other learning difficulties. The first such privately owned centre in the sultanate, it opened on November 10, 2007, and has since provided a service that is unavailable elsewhere.

To date this admirable venture has encountered just one problem – a lack of funds. Without an injection of cash it may soon have to close, thereby shutting out children who have nowhere else to go. Kawthar’s motivation to set up the centre came in part from her own son, who has special needs. “There was nothing here for him,” she said, nor for other children like him – many of the pupils now enrolled were formerly restricted to staying at home. The centre allows them to interact with other people.

Teaching varies according to the needs of each child; young autistic children for instance need to be taught basic skills (how to eat and sit still and so on); whereas other pupils might be taught to read and write. Some may be eligible to study for a high school diploma – the Creative Learning Center is affiliated to an umbrella institution high school in the US.

Kawthar says that she currently has four pupils aged 20 whom she intends to enrol in the autumn on a high school vocational course. It is important that these men learn to work, she points out, because children cannot depend on their parents once the older generation dies.The centre is also valuable in that it offers parents a form of release.

According to Kawthar, parents of children with special needs are often worn out and suffering from sleep deprivation – the centre effectively gives them a break.

“One Pakistani man brought his child to us and he was crying,” she recalls. His distress was perhaps in part an expression of relief; with a monthly salary of RO120, he is unable to afford the educational fees, but the centre asks him only for half his child’s bus fare.

The problem: fees, wages, volunteers and rent This man’s case is not unique – Kawthar says that last year she had ten children who were not paying and some paid half fees. Herein lies the rub. The Creative Learning Center needs funds to continue to be able to subsidise children whose parents are unable to pay.Kawthar needs volunteers as well, to bolster her 20 members of staff.

Last academic year she had 44 pupils, and at least another 40 are already on the list for next term, which starts on September 13.

“Before this I owned a primary school in Al Hail and we never had a problem getting volunteers there. But a school like this, which finds it harder, thrives and depends on volunteers.”

The centre’s financial situation is dire: one of its three partners took out a loan on his house in order to fund it, and they have now missed two loan repayments. Rent on the villa in which the centre is housed is also pending (it must be paid six months in advance) and the landlord is threatening eviction.

“It’s funny because the mosque in my hometown now wants to do a fundraiser event to help the centre,” says American-born Kawthar, who has lived in Oman for 18 years. “I can get people in the US to organise something to help, but I cannot get people in Oman to help this centre or these children.”

To donate to the Creative Learning Center, call 96635730 or 95307344, or email information@clc-oman.com

Kawthar Al-Hadhrami <hoffie1@gmail.com> wrote:

Salaams,

I have had emails asking about the centers bank details. So i will just put it in one email and send it to everyone, I want to thank everyone that is giving us support… No amout is to small. I found in the account this morning that some ppl donated even 2 rials… well, that was two rials we didn’t have before, so Al-humdulilah for that person that donated that 2 Rials…. it will help with something.

Bank: Bank Muscat
Account name: Creative Learning Center
Account number: 142-40268-0081012
Branch: Al-Khuwair 33
Swift Code: BMVSOMRX
Country: Sultanate of Oman

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Date: Sat, 5 Jul 2008 02:52:40 -0700
From: “Kawthar Al-Hadhrami” <hoffie1@gmail.com>
Subject: Thanks and support

Assalaam Alaykum,

As most of you already know, I am one of the owners of Creative Learning Center. We are trying to help the children with special needs of Oman. We are taking all special needs children regardless of nationality.

As I have said in previous emails, there are very few resources for these children in Oman. Early Intervention Center is practically the only place that is really doing specialized programs for special needs children. However, they are only taking young learners and have a long waiting list.

I had been going around to parents’ houses to help these children for the last few years. The parents had begged me to open something for their children so that I could help them more. This was the idea that gave birth to Creative Learning Center.

We took children that had Autism, Down Syndrome, mental retardation and Cerebral Palsy (CP). All of these children had either been dismissed from their private or government schools or had been rejected from going to the regular schools all together.

Our aim in opening this center is to help and educated these children. We have gotten loans from banks and asked friends and relatives to give us money to start the center. Many of the children in the center are not paying fees. Out of the 50 children we have we have only 8 that are paying full tuition fees. I could not in my heart turn away families that could not afford the tuition, especially since there is no other option for these families.

There is a child that had been to four schools and every time after attending the school for about a month, the school would call the parents and them to come get their child. The school would expel him from their school. After all of this the mother just left him at home and hired a teacher to teach him. There is nothing drasically wrong with this child, He has a sever case of dyslexia and IQ deficiency (mild mental retardation) and would have been fine in the school system if he had gotten support lessons. The mother had told each school that she enrolled him in the problem with her child; however, the schools did nothing to support the learning needs of this child. This story is not unique; I have many families that have told me the same story, only the child’s name changes.

I really want to do more for these families but am unable to because of lack of funds and funding. These families need a place to put their children. I feel that is very important for these children to have an education and a skill so later in their life they can depend on themselves. What will happen after their parents die and there is no one to take care of these children that will turn into adults? Who will take care of them? Who will support them? Where will they live? These are all very important questions we must ask ourselves. It is so important that these children become self reliant and learn a skill so that they will not become a problem for government or society. We need sponsors for these children.

I feel within me that it is possible for these children to learn and to learn a skill and in some cases even go on to college and earn a diploma. I have seen this myself in the United States. However, they need to be given a chance. Of course, this depends on the degree of their disability. Children with mild to moderate disabilities are more than able to go on with training and function in society. We can train them for many different things. Children with mental retardation are usually very good with their hands. Therefore, they can be trained to repair computers, TV and DVDs etc. They are also good with wood work, so they can be trained to be carpenters. Most of them enjoy cooking, so maybe we can train them to be chefs. These are only a few of the possibilities. However, we have to start while they are still young; once they get older it is more difficult. I want to teach these children to be self-reliant on themselves instead of relying on the government or on handouts for help.

We want these children to get educated and learn a skill; this is important for their future. These children should not be neglected because they have different needs than other children.

Therefore we are asking for help for these children. We want so badly to help, teach them and give them a skill. However, as most of you know we are having difficulty with this project, the main reason is because we let many children go for free or at a very largely discounted rate. But as I said I could not turn these kids away. One of the owners has mortgaged his house in order to keep the center running and now he is in danger of losing his family house. Therefore it is very important for us to get people to sponsor some of the children.

I am asking everyone reading this email to give anything they can afford, no amount is too small. This is important for the future of these children. People within Oman can donate at any Bank Muscat Branch or Cash machine. People outside of Oman can send a wire transfer or pay by credit card. All details are on our website on the donation page at www.clc-om.com

Please help us to make a difference in these children’s lives. Every little amount counts.

Please forward this to others on your email lists and groups.

Thanks you and may God bless you always,

Kawthar Al-Hadhrami
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You Care: Creative Learning Center
Jul 12, 2008 – 12:38 AM – by AlMaawali

This was a story that was published earlier last month in a very popular newspaper but the response that it got as described by Kawthar Al Hathrami; Managing Director of Creative Learning Center (CLC), “We only got two donations and some other people have called and asked us for our bank account number but we didn’t receive anything”.


(Kawthar Al Hathrami)

It is a very sad situation. It is sad how we stopped caring for the needy and stopped thinking about their dreams and their future. It is sad how people with mental diseases are no longer considered human beings and worthy of our time and money. It is sad how people with special needs are not active members of our society. But why?

Some might even argue that people with mental illnesses and retardation are better off, not knowing what is going on around them and nothing to worry about. But are they really? Don’t they have dreams, aspirations and goals?
What about the parents? Parents who have to bare all the hardships of seeing their kids grow against their imagination and behaving in ways that they don’t understand and can not deal with. Don’t the parents deserve the the joy of seeing their kids’ achievements in life? Don’t the parents deserve some time for themselves? It is true that they love their kids but we all deserve a break.
These are question that could all be answered by watching the video and by us holding hands and making this happen one way or another.

I paid a visit to CLC and had a long hard talk with Mrs. Kawthar about this topic and how her center is dieing is debts and hopelessness. We spoke about the issue and the ways that we could all fix them. And it is only with your help that this could ever be done.

Be part of the solution. It really doesn’t take much.
Here is all that you need to start helping out:

To Sponsor a child:

Download and fill this PDF form then send the form in person or to this address:
PO Box 1364
Al-Athabia, Post Code 130
Sultanate of Oman

To send your donations:

Number:
(968)24475055 – (968)95307344

Address:
PO Box 1364
Al-Athabia, Post Code 130
Sultanate of Oman

Bank Information:
Bank: Bank Muscat
Account name: Creative Learning Center
Account number: 142-402680081012
Branch: Al-Khuwair 33
Swift Code: BMVSOMRX.

For more information, visit CLC’s website at www.clc-om.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kawthar kindly requests that you display the below banner on your website and link it to

http://www.clc-om.com/donation.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From: Kawthar Balushi <hoffie1@gmail.com>
Subject: Creative learning center (special needs center in Oman) needs support
Date: Sunday, October 12, 2008, 6:29 PM

Assalaam Alaykum,

As most of you already know, I am one of the owners of Creative Learning Center. We are trying to help the children with special needs of Oman. We are taking all special needs children regardless of nationality.

As I have said in previous emails, there are very few resources for these children in Oman. Early Intervention Center is practically the only place that is really doing specialized programs for special needs children. However, they are only taking young learners and have a long waiting list.

I had been going around to parents’ houses to help these children for the last few years. The parents had begged me to open something for their children so that I could help them more. This was the idea that gave birth to Creative Learning Center.

We took children that had Autism, Down Syndrome, mental retardation and Cerebral Palsy (CP). All of these children had either been dismissed from their private or government schools or had been rejected from going to the regular schools all together.

Our aim in opening this center is to help and educated these children. We have gotten loans from banks and asked friends and relatives to give us money to start the center.  Many of the children in the center are not paying fees. Out of the 50 children we have we have only 8 that are paying full tuition fees. I could not in my heart turn away families that could not afford the tuition, especially since there is no other option for these families.

There is a child that had been to four schools and every time after attending the school for about a month, the school would call the parents and them to come get their child. The school would expel him from their school. After all of this the mother just left him at home and hired a teacher to teach him. There is nothing drasically wrong with this child, He has a sever case of dyslexia and IQ deficiency (mild mental retardation) and would have been fine in the school system if he had gotten support lessons. The mother had told each school that she enrolled him in the problem with her child; however, the schools did nothing to support the learning needs of this child. This story is not unique; I have many families that have told me the same story, only the child’s name changes.

I really want to do more for these families but am unable to because of lack of funds and funding. These families need a place to put their children. I feel that is very important for these children to have an education and a skill so later in their life they can depend on themselves. What will happen after their parents die and there is no one to take care of these children that will turn into adults? Who will take care of them? Who will support them? Where will they live? These are all very important questions we must ask ourselves. It is so important that these children become self reliant and learn a skill so that they will not become a problem for government or society. We need sponsors for these children.

I feel within me that it is possible for these children to learn and to learn a skill and in some cases even go on to college and earn a diploma. I have seen this myself in the United States.  However, they need to be given a chance. Of course, this depends on the degree of their disability. Children with mild to moderate disabilities are more than able to go on with training and function in society. We can train them for many different things. Children with mental retardation are usually very good with their hands. Therefore, they can be trained to repair computers, TV and DVDs etc. They are also good with wood work, so they can be trained to be carpenters. Most of them enjoy cooking, so maybe we can train them to be chefs. These are only a few of the possibilities. However, we have to start while they are still young; once they get older it is more difficult. I want to teach these children to be self-reliant on themselves instead of relying on the government or on handouts for help.

We want these children to get educated and learn a skill; this is important for their future. These children should not be neglected because they have different needs than other children.

Therefore we are asking for help for these children. We want so badly to help, teach them and give them a skill. However, as most of you know we are having difficulty with this project, the main reason is because we let many children go for free or at a very largely discounted rate. But as I said I could not turn these kids away. One of the owners has mortgaged his house in order to keep the center running and now he is in danger of losing his family house. Therefore it is very important for us to get people to sponsor some of the children.

If everyone reading this email would only give 10-15 RO, it would make a big difference to a life of a child.

I am asking everyone reading this email to give anything they can afford, no amount is too small. This is important for the future of these children.  People within Oman can donate at any Bank Muscat Branch or Cash machine. People outside of Oman can send a wire transfer or pay by credit card. All details are on our website on the donation page at http://www.clc-om.com
Please help us to make a difference in these children’s lives. Every little amount counts.

Please forward this to others on your email lists and groups.

Thanks you
May God bless you always,

Kawthar Al-Hadhrami