We are honored that TMWF’s Executive Director, Hind Jarrah, Ph.D. has been selected as one of the Dallas Women’s Foundation 2017 Leadership Award Recipients. The Maura Women Helping Women Awards are presented annually to exceptional leaders who have pioneered the way in improving lives for women and girls. She will be formally recognized at the Dallas Women’s Foundation Leadership Forum & Awards Dinner on May 9. Find out more: https://goo.gl/txJGBs.
Assalaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatu Allahi Wa Barakatuh (Peace be with you and God Blessings and God’s mercy),
We all are living critical times in history, and we are extremely anxious and worried for the days ahead. Yesterday, an Indian lady in Carrollton was stopped by the police and asked to prove her citizenship, she had to have her husband bring her passport! Few weeks ago one of our young kids in school was called a terrorist!
As members of a minority community, we are extremely saddened and worried by this turn in events. We keep hearing the news of so many un-American acts and actions against our own people as well as other minority groups, all suffering from increased bullying of children at schools, increased attacks on houses of worship, increased discrimination and checks at border crossings and customs, increased ICE rounding and arrests and detentions, increased hate crimes and vandalism of Muslim and Jewish houses of worship (and cemeteries), increased bullying of LGBTQ communities, and increased interference and limitations on women’s freedom of choice and Women’s decision making abilities.
This is not the America or American values that we love and that we work for.
Here at TMWF we continue our work for Peace in the Home. We serve and advocate on behalf of ALL victims of Domestic Violence (DV) – from whatever race, ethnicity or faith they are – in every way we can. We provide all the services we can: case management, counselling, play therapy, 24 hour hotline, 24 hour crisis shelter, legal representation, financial empowerment. Yet sadly every month we turn away 30-40 victims calling for help, because our shelter is full and there is no room. We need your help so that we can move our shelter clients to mid-housing while they learn to stand on their own, so we can have room in the shelter for victims who are in immediate danger.
We are doing everything we can to advocate on their behalf. We are raising awareness about DV with every community and with all ages, and on February 14 we were in Austin for the Texas Council on Family Violence Capital Day. We visited our representatives urging them to support the work of DV agencies. In 2015 the Texas statistics were daunting:
And since 20% of our clients are refugees, and majority of our community are immigrants, on February 3rd, we moderated a panel on refugee for legislative briefings in Austin on the refugee resettlement process, national security considerations, community support for refugees and refugee contributions to Texas. We advocated for refugees in any capacity we could, in the media with the McQuisition report on KERA on January 22, in Austin with refugee agencies such as MOSAIC Family Services, and with the International Rescue Committee at Senator Cornyn’s office here in Dallas.
Our interfaith program is extremely active, and friends tell us that TMWF is always well represented at events throughout the Metroplex. On Sunday February 19th, we celebrated Black History Month at Masjid-al-Islam and learned about the Civil Rights movement in the USA, and also attended an Interfaith gathering with our Ahmadiyya Sisters. On Sunday February 26, we celebrated neighbors and friendship among Muslims and Christians in McKinney. This event was organized by the Outreach Committee of McKinney Islamic Association – Dr Shazia Anwar – and Trinity Presbyterian Church.
On February 21st, we partnered with Ayesha Omar from BB&T Bank to educate our guests on Financial Management during our monthly luncheon. And our Youth Group continued doing their good deeds with the seniors. Our Islamic Arts Revival Series is getting ready to open the Women’s Invitational Open Exhibit at the Eisemann Center March 1-March 26, 2017.
This wealth and diversity in programs and participation earned TMWF the privilege of being included in the Maura Women Helping Women and Young Leader Awards at the Dallas Women Foundation on May 9th, 2017. I hope you will join us to celebrate with us this great honor.
No matter how difficult the times are, or how anxious we feel, human compassion and friendship and care for one another makes things better for everyone involved, and throughout our history, TMWF has been specially effective in doing this. In these difficult times, the bright spots are the tremendous coming together of faith communities, social justice organizations, and the mobilizations of all groups to work together and organize and be vocal about their position. All are reaching out to their representatives and letting them know how they feel. This is absolutely critical, the local decisions in the municipalities, city, county and state are the best determinants of how communities there will be treated and affected.
As you can see, TMWF is a unique organization, working for the good for all at so many levels, There definitely is a program or service that you can support here, and we urgently need you to do this as soon as possible. Please consider donating to your favorite programs at TMWF.
May God keep you and your loved ones in his tender loving care!
Hind Jarrah, Ph.D.
Join the Purple Postcard campaign and make sure legislators hear your voices! Please call your representative and ask them to support Bills for Domestic Violence. Everyone has a role to play in building a safer Texas. There are many ways you can show your support for family violence victims and survivors, and help create communities free from violence.
Did you know that Texas has among the highest number of unmet requests for family violence services in the country?
Nearly 16,000 victims of family violence, primarily women and children, were turned away from shelters in 2015 due to lack of capacity, and that’s why your support of the Purple Postcard is so important (http://tcfv.org/).
Join Hamza Iqbal’s pledge Young Men Against Abuse.
At only 15 years old, he already recognizes the importance of bringing domestic violence (DV) awareness among his peers. He began an online petition to take the pledge against DV. His effort was endorsed by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. It complements the Mayor’s 2013 campaign for 10,000 men to take the pledge.
Click here to sign the pledge!
By Dianne Solis, Dallas News, Powered by The Dallas Morning News
Muslim leaders and their supporters on Wednesday denounced what they called growing bigotry against people of the Islamic faith, citing a “loyalty oath” they say a Texas state legislator wants them to take, and the looming temporary ban on many refugees issued by President Donald Trump.
“We will not tolerate it,” said Imam Omar Suleiman in a news conference in Irving, a city with a large concentration of Muslims and foreign-born people. “I invite any one of our government officials or our neighbors to get to know us in the spirit of friendship, not suspicion.”
Assalaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatu Allahe Wa Barakatuh (Peace be with you and God Blessings and God’s mercy),
Dear Supporters, on Saturday January 21, 2017 TMWF hosted our 12th Annual Fundraising Gala. We cannot find the words to express to all of you how grateful and blessed we are by your support. We had 500 attendees from different faith communities, nationalities, denominations, affiliations, stages in life and professions. Among us we were blessed with Rabbis, Pastors, Imams, men, women and youths. They all were and – are – true faithful and true believers, putting the teachings of their faith into action. Each one made the statement that they supported TMWF’s work.
Peace in the Home
First and foremost the Peace in the Home domestic violence (DV) program:
Goodwill and Friendship
TMWF and supporters were and – are – acknowledging that “All people are created equal” by the one All Mighty creator. Although we come in all races, all ethnicities, all genders, we are meant to know one another and to care for one another and live peacefully together on God’s good Earth. This is the integral vision in our Interfaith and Outreach program. The tremendous interfaith audience were the fruit of the constant work over the years – visiting, partnering with all faiths and denominations, speaking in schools, colleges and groups and establishing goodwill and friendship in the process.
Building Cultural Bridges
We all know that all of us are not given the same starting points or means in life, but all of us have the right to be educated and to improve our future and that of all our families. This highlights TMWF’s Education program. What is a better and more effective way to connect people and bring them together than art with our Islamic Arts Revival Series program? Art has always been a universal language to build cultural bridges.
Children are our future
Last but not least, we all realize that our children are our future. They are the ones who will hold the reigns of our society, our country and our world. What we plant in their minds early on is what we will reap in the future years to come, and this is our focus in the Youth Leadership program. Since 2008, when Farhana Ali established the program, over 500 youth have volunteered over 3,000 hours of service to food pantries, homeless shelters, hospitals and senior homes. On Saturday we saw them the fight against Domestic Violence with Mayor Rawlings and our Imams.
Our programs showed that TMWF is a living, breathing, mini world, that nurtures all the values that faiths and real humanity promote: compassion, love, friendship, support, generosity, respect and care for every single individual within this world. We respect and value of all the resources and expertise that each one brings, whether they are young or old, men or women, black or white, Mexican, South Asian, white, Arab, African, European, or Latin American.
Thank you to our gala sponsors, program advertisers, silent auction donors and to the wonderful ladies who donated the delicious treats for all our guests!
On the second day after the inauguration, we all witnessed the women’s marches all over the country, and witnessed the fear and the worry that many people were experiencing in light of the anticipated new changes in government. For us at TMWF, these are even more scary times. We fear for our women, community, our men and children. We fear for the poor, all refugees and immigrants.
We fear the anticipated cuts in federal programs and grants. The news today are that the Office of Violence against women, the source of funding for major DV providers around the country, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts, and other critically important programs will be eliminated. We pray that our coming together will be the assurance that the people of this country will continue the work to look after one another and support one another, and in light of potential cuts in funding from the government, each and every one of us will reach out more within his own ability and will be even more generous in his donations today and onward.
None of the current programs helping the homeless, the victims of DV, the people with disabilities, poor, refugees the LGBTQ can continue without our combined effort and generosity. So please continue to donate to TMWF and your favorite charities.
And I am reminded here by the verse from the Quran, that a good deed is like a corn that gives 7 corns:
مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنبُلَةٍ مِّئَةُ حَبَّةٍ وَاللّهُ يُضَاعِفُ لِمَن يَشَاء وَاللّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
Quran Chapter 2 Verse 261
The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.
Lastly, thank you to ALL our brothers and sisters who stood with the Muslim Community and came out in droves to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport to make a stand and state that refugees are welcome.
Thank you to Dallas Mayor Rawlings, Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas Faith Leaders: Rev Michael Waters, Pastor Erik Folkerth, Imam Omar Suleiman, the untiring and dedicated and relentless Alia Salem, CAIR Executive Director, the countless Pro Bono lawyers who worked unselfishly. Thank you to the generous volunteers who brought food and water and cleaning supplies for the thousands of protesters who stayed there till the detainees were released. We thank the gracious Police Officers who attended to the peaceful crowds and to the news agencies such as WFAA, Dallas Morning News for covering all the events.
I know I’m missing a lot of wonderful people who are definitely deserving of recognition, please forgive my memory! Please know that we are sincerely grateful and appreciative of your presence among us. God Bless the great American spirit and our wonderful American brothers and sisters who always uphold the values and constitution of the USA, and do not let fear and hate push them away. God Bless the already great USA.
Thank you for your generosity and supporting our mission.
Hind Jarrah, Ph.D.
PS: If you were unable to join us at the Gala, please consider making your gift today. We need more #PeaceChampions to stand with us to bring “Peace in the Home”.
by Nagia Moharram
January 21, 2017, was an eventful day. While many citizens in the United States and worldwide marched in solidarity for the rights of women and minorities, a group of over 500 men and women of all faiths, ages, and ethnic backgrounds gathered at a hotel in Dallas, Texas for the same cause. The 12th Annual Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation’s (TMWF) Fundraising Gala offered a powerful and timely message. Board Chair, Mahmuda Hossain, welcomed the audience, along with TMWF Event Sponsors, auction donors, businesses advertising in the event and TMWF staff for the impactful work being done. TMWF Executive director, Dr. Hind Jarrah presented the accomplishments of TMWF since inception, noting that TMWF and its supporters parallel the diversity of the United States, and represent working together for a good cause. The agenda for the evening offered stories from all four of TMWF’s programs, Social Services, Youth Leadership Development, Education, and Interfaith Outreach.
The first story was both truly personal and yet represented the tragedies of many other victims. A TMWF Social Services client, speaking in anonymity, told of mental, physical, sexual, and financial abuse at the hands of her husband. She expressed her gratitude for an organization such as TMWF that helped her get out of her horrific cycle of abuse and reclaim her dignity. The client’s story showed how TMWF Social Services saves lives and helps victims find peace and community. Read her story.
Youth speaking for the Youth Leadership Program highlighted the importance of volunteering and youth involvement in strengthening themselves as well as the community. TMWF Youth Council member, Izzah Zaheer, acknowledged that at first her involvement was to earn service points, but as she became more involved she realized how much she was learning and growing. The experience of volunteering humbled her and helped her gain confidence in her ability to lead and serve society. As many youth have expressed when working with TMWF, the impact of helping others only strengthens ourselves.
Pledge of Young Men Against Abuse
The intertwining of youth involvement and social service was punctuated by the presentation of fifteen year old Hamza Iqbal, who lead the “Pledge of Young Men Against Abuse”. Speaking boldly, he acknowledged that as a young man he is not only gaining in physical strength, but also in responsibility. He knows he must not abuse his strength, but use it to support and protect others. Hamza denounced any abuser, “I don’t care how rich or educated, how old or strong you are. If you are an abuser, you are not my hero.” All the men in the audience were invited to follow his recitation of the pledge against domestic violence and to affirm their steadfast maintenance of peace in the home. Hamza Iqbal highlighted the Youth Leadership Program’s promotion of youth as our community’s future and the need for adults to support them on the their path to adulthood.
Islamic Arts Revival Series (IARS)
The education component of TMWF can never be understated. Dr. Jarrah lauded the Islamic Arts Revival Series (IARS) in bridging between cultures through their work. The partnership between the IARS team with the Irving Arts Center’s Marcie Inman and Todd Eric Hawkins created what Mr. Hawkins called “a table for us to sit together.” Their exhibits, performances, and workshops have created ways to bring diverse communities together through the beauty and creativity of art, intrinsic to our shared humanity.
The two highly anticipated keynote speakers focused on TMWF’s Interfaith Outreach program as well as its efforts to empower women. The first keynote address was given by journalist, Carla Power. A secularist, Ms. Power expressed her gratitude to her friend the Muslim scholar, Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi, the subject of her book, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and Journey to the Heart of the Qur’an. Through her year-long study, she came to understand the nuances of the faith, helping to denounce misinformation, break stereotypes, and foster mutual respect and understanding.
Ms. Power also cited multiple woman scholars in history, whom she learned of through the research work of Sheikh Nadwi. She emphasized that these Muslim women believed strongly in seeking knowledge, as their faith encourages, and sharing it with others, teaching both men and women students. The significance of her friend being an Eastern male (raised in India) Islamic scholar researching and saluting 10,000 women in history in 40 volumes of research cannot be discounted. His findings magnify the gap that exists today between these Muslim women’s scholarly Islamic tradition, practicing fully in public life as equals to men, and modern day practice in many Muslim countries. Ms. Power sees TMWF as trying to change these practices of many centuries, so that they can once again empower women and, through their empowerment, better society as a whole. She closed by saying the command by God in the Qur’an for people to get to know one another and to do good works together are both Qur’anic and deeply American virtues.
The second keynote speaker, American Muslim scholar and leader, Imam Omar Suleiman, praised the work of TMWF and its efforts to unite people of all backgrounds to support the common good. Imam Omar Suleiman shared a personal story to elaborate on the significance of TMWF’s focus on empowering women through respecting their humanity and equal status. He shared that his mother had been quite ill when he was a boy. His father had to take care of her as well as the children. His father never complained, but, instead, said that his greatest blessing was his wife. Imam Omar explained that it was his father’s faith that compelled him to treat his wife that way. He made the point that “the best thing a man can teach his children is to treat his wife well.” He added that with the coming of the message of Islam, the divine revelations helped the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) promote respect for women in public policy and in society. Among the many things that the Prophet said in his final sermon was to keep connected to God through prayer and to treat women well.
Imam Omar noted the current disrespect for women and those who are seen as “other” in contemporary society requires that “we respond by repelling evil with that which is better” as we stand united together with love and respect for one another. He sees faith as the driving force behind TMWF’s commitment for championing peace in the home and society at large.
Through out the Gala, the message of strength through unity and civic engagement was loud and clear. The women and men of all ages and faiths who gathered that evening clearly stand for a vision of a bright future that they will continually commit to, together, in these United States and the world at large. TMWF shares that same vision and is steadfast in its ongoing commitment to the well-being and empowerment of the human spirit.
Thank you for your support in championing our cause. Thank you to our gala sponsors, silent auction donors, program advertisers and the wonderful ladies who donated the delicious treats for our guests!
If you were unable to join us at the Gala, please consider making your gift today at www.tmwf.org. We need more #PeaceChampions to stand with us to bring “Peace in the Home”.
The Youth Leadership program hosted its 9th Annual MLK Day “Feed Your Neighbor” event at the Beacon of Light Center (BOL) at Masjid Al Islam in downtown Dallas. The event brought together approximately 60 volunteers from TMWF youth and other organizations including, the Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Relief USA, Brighter Horizons Academy, and the Flower Mound United Methodist Church. Thank you to all our volunteers who donated the food, supplies, and clothing.
In keeping with Dr. King’s legacy of service and promotion of the brotherhood of humanity, volunteers were moved by their experience. Irene Muturi, a friend of one of the TMWF families, was delighted to see youth coming in the morning on a school holiday to help others. “Hopefully I can continue helping this community regardless of the event…[This should not be] just a one day thing…[there’s an] ongoing need. Being with people of other faiths speaks to what MLK Day is all about: doing good and coming together of people of other faiths.”
TMWF youth, Anushe Sheikh, was surprised by the response of the needy who came, “I really like how polite and happy they are, despite their situation.” Yasmin Zeidan, a Brighter Horizons Academy (BHA) youth, felt that, “It was a great opportunity to see the community that we don’t usually see and a great opportunity to give back.” Her BHA school-mates, echoed her feelings, including Hana Awad, “To be honest I was going to stay home sleeping, but I’m so glad I came. Once I saw all their smiles it was all worth it.”
Other youth, such as Adam al-Asad, were contemplative. He wanted to tell others who might not have been able to volunteer on this day, “If you can’t feed a hundred people then just feed one.” Also, Amal Al-Hafi, who hadn’t volunteered at the Beacon of Light before, was profoundly touched by the experience. She reflected, “Giving back to the community is a gift to yourself.”
TMWF is grateful to the administration of BOL for opening up their facility to the youth volunteers. Sister Khadijeh Abdullah, the coordinator of the Health and Human Services of BOL expanded on their various services. Feeding programs from farmers’ market harvest projects and local restaurants help provide fresh produce for volunteers to cook at their facility, supplemented with frozen foods. Breakfasts are offered every weekend via various sponsors.
The BOL houses a donation room where volunteers can put together various hygiene and food kits. Food kits for the homeless are single use, including water, crackers, tea, candy, etc. Family pantry plus kits for needy families include oil, rice, and flour. The facility also has a reading and respite area with pencils, pens, paper, puzzle books, general books, magazines, games, and a microwave and popcorn. Through generous donations of large screen TVs and laptops they offer movie nights and computer classes. Cell phones are also available for usage in their facility.
Sister Khadijeh welcomes anyone who wants to come and help on Saturday mornings, from 9 am to noon. There are lockers for volunteers, a large kitchen area for food preparation and storage, and bathrooms. Sister Khadijeh concludes, “We are trying to make it a comforting and calming place.”
More information at http://www.masjidalislam.org/.
Reflecting on 2016, the year brought great highlights for TMWF, as well as difficult and sad times. My prayers are that 2017 and the coming years bring peace, goodwill, and compassion to all.
We continued to have our doors open to all our brothers and sisters, from all faiths and communities, from all over the country, and even from across the oceans. Victims of domestic violence (DV) with unique cultural and spiritual needs found an oasis of peace in our services and our compassionate, dedicated, and committed counselors, case managers, and attorneys. Victims moved out of the trauma and abyss of DV abuse, into a hope filled independent state, standing firm on their own two feet, working, learning, and knowing how to provide for themselves and their children. Our qualified counselors helped children who had experienced or witnessed the trauma of abuse to transition from a constant state of fear, anxiety, anger, and destructive tendencies to a calm, cooperative and more receptive state, open to healing, growth, learning and cooperation.
Our caring staff, generous community, and partnering organizations ensured that the needy and DV victims received shelter, housing, food, clothing, backpacks, furniture, cars, financial education, scholarships for continuing education, and most importantly the confidence to recognize their own worth.
A huge salute to TMWF’s generous, compassionate partner organizations and individuals. TMWF received grants from the Dallas Women’s Foundation, Harold Simmons Foundation, Liberty Mutual, Catchafire, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, City of McKinney, City of Frisco, City of Plano, City of Richardson, Texas Department of Health and Human Services, the Criminal Justice Division of the Texas Office of the Governor, US Dept. Health and Human Services-Family and Youth Services Bureau.
We partnered with New Hope Ministries (to furnish clients’ apartments), North Texas Food Bank, Hope Supply Co., Baitulmaal, ICNA, ICNA Sisters’, local mosques, (including IACC, IAC, MIA, EPIC, IANT, ICI, and ICA, which provided toiletries, diapers, cleaning supplies, clothing, and financial aid), Bank of America and BB&T’s compassionate staff (providing financial literacy training for clients), Tabani Family Foundation (providing transitional housing), Qaiser Jahan Najmi Memorial Fund, The WAQF Group (providing rent and help where it is most needed), and Rasheed Family Foundation (providing scholarships in the health profession).
Our financials have been audited annually by an outside agency since 2009, with minimal to no recommendations, and thus indicating their stamp of approval of our financial practices. Such positive audits highlight our meticulous financial maintenance and transparency.
Along with our celebration of our cumulative successes we also experienced tremendous heart aches with the huge tragedies in the loss of three wonderful ladies in our community to domestic abuse. These tragedies increased our educational efforts to raise awareness about DV. Again, we reached out to our wonderful imams during our two annual awareness campaigns which take place during the month of Ramadan (this year in June) and during October, the National DV Awareness Month. Imams devoted many khutbahs (sermons) and provided resources for services during those campaigns as well as throughout the year. Not only did local imams participate, but Imams who had partnered with TMWF in the past, but now reside in different cities or states, also participated in this effort to educate our communities about peaceful relationships in the home and within the community at large.
Other highlights included:
• Engaged the youth in DV awareness through many speaking engagements with CCCFV, MAS, PHI Alpha Gamma, SMU MSA
• Attended or spoke at national conferences/workshops: NNEDV in Atlanta, United States of Women’s Conference in Washington, DC
Outreach and Education
• Interfaith efforts in the 2nd Community at Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, First United Methodist Church in Plano, and the Faith Club
• Educational speakers at our Ladies Only Monthly Luncheons and Radio Azad
• Youth hosting their own topics on Radio Azad
• The Islamic Arts Revival Series 5th Annual Juried International Exhibition of Islamic Art at Irving Arts Center and the awesome group of artists and speakers who participated
Since the beginning of the TMWF Youth Leadership Program in 2007, over 500 youth have shown great leadership and community service. The Youth Program is preparing the future generation of committed civically and socially engaged leaders, which is made evident in this testimonial from our youth alum, Hanan Hassan:
“I used to volunteer with TMWF in high school. In the beginning, it started as an organized way for me to gain community service hours for my extracurricular activity commitments, such as the National Honors Society. However, over time I began to form friendships with the other members of the youth group, saw mentorship in the TMWF leaders, and gained knowledge in a variety of areas that would be beneficial in the years to come. I learned about various societal issues (i.e. homelessness, unemployment, domestic violence, and mental health) and how they impact my neighbors, brothers and sisters in Islam, and the greater population. I learned about team building, community partnerships, and interfaith collaboration for the purpose of combating these issues. I learned about what it means to give up my time to help those in need and rewarding it can be. I learned that regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion, gender, or situation, we are equal and anyone may just need a hand at a certain point in life.
All of these teachings benefited me tremendously as I went on to college at Southern Methodist University. Throughout my undergraduate career, I served on the board of the Muslim Students Association, founded and served as president of the Habesha Collegiate Students Network, and co-founded and served as president of Women in Business at SMU. I also regularly volunteered at the I Have a Dream Foundation in Dallas. Volunteering in high school with TMWF, gave me the leadership skills necessary to do all of these things. It also made community engagement and giving back a regular accept of my life, something that no longer felt like a commitment. In May, I graduated with a master’s degree in accounting from SMU’s Cox School of Business. Today, I am living in New York, working for a Big Four accounting firm, in M&A transactions.”
We are thankful to you for helping us get this far in our services. We are extremely proud of the work that has been done and the accomplishments that have been made; the kind of work is stellar, and the impact on people’s lives is significant. Please continue your support and donations. TMWF is a unique organization that has given a voice to Muslim women and their families in all walks of life and through all venues. Every dollar you donate will be stretched to the maximum limit and will ensure that TMWF continues to be the “oasis of peace” for our community and society.
Thank you for being a #PeaceChampion. We look forward to your support in 2017.
Hind Jarrah, Ph.D.
By: Nagia E. Moharram, TMWF Communications
At TMWF social services, Jameela Tifla1 provides play therapy to children, adolescents, and adults. Ms. Tifla, a Texas Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), who specializes in play therapy, explains the effectiveness of her counseling services.
With children, ages 3 to 12 years, Ms. Tifla uses child-centered play therapy. She explains, “[For children] play therapy is what talk therapy is to adults. Play is their natural language …[and is] innate to them…. [Through play] they learn about themselves …[and] about the world…[and] make sense of the world. It’s just the most natural process for them.” During the play therapy sessions, toys become a child’s words and play becomes the child’s language.
The toys in her playroom can be found in any home, but Ms. Tifla specifically choses them for their therapeutic value. The toys are of different categories: aggression (a sword, hand cuffs, a dart gun, a drum), nurture (a baby doll, stuffed animals), pretend (dolls, a doll-house, kitchen, puppet theater), mastery (puzzles, blocks, cards), dress-up (clothes), expression (art, musical instruments), and so on. The different categories allow children to express themselves in different ways.
The child begins by exploring the playroom, but eventually chooses certain toys; slowly a theme emerges in his play, which depicts what he is experiencing in his life.2 Ms. Tifla does not correct the child, nor direct his play, but she trusts that that the child will take the therapist where the child needs to go, in terms of their processing their trauma.
One key component of play therapy is the genuine relationship between the therapist and the child, where the child feels comfortable enough to trust the therapist. The therapist is supportive, non-judgmental, fully present, and supports the child by reflecting on the child’s feelings. For example, the child might bang on the ground the aggression toy sword. Ms. Tifla’s reflective response might be, “Johnny, you are really angry. You feel like hitting that on the ground.” She reflects by providing words to the feelings exhibited in his actions.
The therapist’s reflection does two things. First, it validates the child’s feelings; second, the therapist is giving the child the words to express those feelings in an appropriate way. Children may not have the cognitive ability to express themselves, especially when they have experienced trauma.
Although the play in the playroom is unstructured, the therapist does impose some limits. If a child is trying to hurt himself or the therapist, or tries to break something, Ms. Tifla uses what is called, “therapeutic limit setting.”
The acronym for those limits is, ACT, where:
Using the previous example, if “Johnny” were to use the sword to try to hurt Ms. Tifla, she would say, “You are so angry at me that you are wanting to hurt me, but I am not for hitting. You can pretend that inflatable Bobo Doll (a large inflatable doll in the shape of a punching bag) is me, and you can hit that instead.” By using the therapeutic limit setting, Ms. Tifla has, “A,” acknowledged the child’s feelings (anger, in this case); “C,” communicated the limit on his actions that it is not ok to hurt someone (“I am not for hurting”); and “T,” targeted an alternative way of for the child to express his feelings that is not harmful (letting his anger find expression in the punching of an inflatable toy).
Using ACT therapeutic limit setting highlights to the child that all feelings are ok, but all behaviors are not. Such limits help children distinguish between healthy ways of coping and expressing their anger in unhealthy ways. Ms. Tifla emphasizes, “We don’t want to keep the child from expressing [his] feelings, …whatever the feeling is, those feelings are ok and it’s ok to express them, but it’s important for the child to learn how to express them in a safe way, in a safe place, without hurting himself, hurting someone else, or breaking something. Here [in the playroom] he is allowed to feel, but limits are put in place…[and he is given] an alternative way to express himself.”
The entire playroom is available for that unstructured play which gives the child a sense of having control over what he wants to do and how he wants to do it, within therapeutic limits. The child has control inside the playroom that he may not have in his life outside the playroom. If, for example, there occurred a traumatic catastrophe, such as a flood, where the child might have lost his home, he would have had no control over that event. The playroom offers the child a place to regain some control over his life, which is therapeutically empowering.
Eventually, what the child learns in the playroom, he applies outside the playroom. For example, the mastery category of toys, which allow children to win a game, build something, or become competent at something, gives the child a sense of having control. The mastery and achievement they experience gradually builds their self-esteem. Ms. Tifla might reflect that achievement of mastery, “You made that, and you’re so proud of yourself.” She explains, “Being able to build that self-esteem through these activities, helps transfer that same built up self-esteem outside of the playroom…. Every time I am reflecting, I am building up the child’s self-esteem.”
Ms. Tifla emphasizes that play therapy is a slow process. It takes time for a child to build enough trust in the therapist to play out a meaningful life event and allow himself to expose his feelings in the playroom. There isn’t one pivotal point were the child has instantly healed. Rather, the child has various contemplative experiences through his play guided by the therapist’s reflections. Every child is different and they each go through various stages in the playroom. Multiple play therapy sessions are needed for the child’s realizations to add up to healing and the success of the therapy. Ms. Tifla urges parents to bring in their child on a consistent basis, because consistency is what allows for better outcomes.
Sand Tray Therapy
With clients that are older children, adolescents, or adults, Ms. Tifla uses another form of play therapy, called sand tray therapy. Because play therapy is very much about developmentally appropriate practices, sand tray therapy is used with her older age clients who can benefit from the more structured form of therapy. Like the playroom, the sand tray toys also have categories. In sand tray therapy, the therapist will give a prompt. For example, Ms. Tifla might ask the client to create a scene of what he’s feeling that day, or a scene of his current life. Once her client has created the scene, he and Ms. Tifla process it together. The client will talk about why he picked what he picked and what it means to him. Ms. Tifla explains, “A lot of times, when doing the sand tray, it’s like looking at yourself or your life outside of yourself. It’s almost like an out of body experience. It makes the experience really real for them. ‘This is my life; this is how it is; or this is how I want it to be.’”
Some clients on their own will create two sections in the sand tray: “This is how I want my life to be, and this is what my life is right now.” Ms. Tifla might ask the client to use the sand tray to make a day in his future, to encourage goal setting. The therapist processes the scene with the client to help him find ways to cope with the experience in the scene he has created. For example, if the client has created a bullying scene depicting him surrounded by several other children, the therapist might ask, “Well, what do you think you need right now to feel safe?” He might pick out a play figure that he feels will make him feel safe, perhaps a figure that symbolizes his teacher. And then he might say, “If the teacher were next to me, I would feel safe.” In the moment of processing, the client is coming up with a resolution, “This is what I can do,” which provides him with a sense of control, of knowing what to do next time.
Through the processing of the sand tray scenario, the client becomes empowered to express himself and has his feelings validated (he was scared); also he feels safe by finding a resolution and having a plan for next time [seek out the teacher]. Ms. Tifla explains, “Even being able to feel a feeling and express it, is half the battle. And someone listening, not expressing, just listening and validating that feeling is so therapeutic.”
She explains that children have to rely on their adult care-givers at home, siblings, classmates, teachers, or counselors to validate their feelings. But if their life’s circumstances do not provide them with anyone other than their play therapist to listen to their fears and concerns, then their relationship with the therapist becomes very important. The sand tray is a very powerful medium in therapy to allow the client to work things out.
Child Parent Relationship Training
With children under the age of three, Ms. Tifla uses Child Parent Relationship Training, (CPRT) which is based on a ten-session curriculum. She explains, “CPRT is basically coaching parents in some very basic play therapy skills that I use in the playroom, to allow them to be agents of change in their children’s lives.” Parents are coached in basic play therapy skills and helped to choose specific, simple, affordable toys (that can be bought at the dollar store) to create their own toy box at home.
Parents are asked to have a 30-minute play session once a week with their child, during which they are required to be fully present with their child. Being fully present means that any distractions are put away. Cell phones must be put away; TV’s must be turned off; and any other children must be looked after by the other parent or another care-giver. The play session must be a specific designated time for one parent to be alone with the child in play therapy for 30 minutes.
Parents are coached in basic reflection skills. Ms. Tifla tells parents to allow children to play without intervention or correction, while keeping the ACT therapeutic limits in place. Parents find it difficult initially, but they slowly get used to letting the child be. Ms. Tifla suggests, “Play dumb. If your child says, ‘Can you open this for me?’ or ‘Can you do this for me?’ Reflect, ‘Oh you’d like for me to help you.’ If it truly is a hard thing to do, say, ‘Let’s figure this out together.’” She continues, “And if it’s hard to open, twist it open a tiny bit, and ‘hmm why don’t you try this again.’ And then the child might open it by themselves, and then the child might say, ‘I did it!’” She explains to parents that by allowing the child to figure things out, the parent is helping their child with mastery, which strengthens the child’s self-esteem.
The two things CPRT hopes to achieve is strengthening the parent child bond and helping the parent understand the child in a different and better light. The therapeutic limit setting, ACT, helps the process along. Eventually, the 30-minute play session and the ACT limits transition into their daily lives as common behavior. Positive changes slowly emerge. CPRT works when the parent is stable enough to be the child’s anchor and agent of change. If parents aren’t stable, and do not feel that they can be fully present, Ms. Tifla encourages them to take care of themselves first, acknowledging the importance of parents to take care of their own needs. However, Ms. Tifla continues to work with the child and allows the parents to participate in whatever capacity they can offer. “I work with them where they are.”
1 Name changed for privacy
2 The male pronoun “he/his” is used generically only for clarity in the text to distinguish between the therapist, who is female, and her client. Ms. Tifla helps both male and female clients.