IMAN Arts and Culture: At the Crossing of Global and Local

IMAN Arts and Culture is excited to be a part, again, of the yearly Chicago World Music Festival held by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs.  We are sponsoring a performance by Nawal, from the Comoros Islands, and Slowbots, from Chicago, on Saturday, September 21 at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Nawal-2Over the last few years, IMAN Arts and Culture has partnered with some of the most iconic local and national arts organizations and venues to bring contemporary and traditional Muslim artists and art forms to local and national audiences.  The Old Town School of Folk Music has been one such partner organization where IMAN has brought this fusion of the global and the local in arts over the last few years, while the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs has been another one.

As far back as 2009, IMAN partnered with the Old Town School of Folk Music to host a special event with Faiz Ali Faiz, a world-renowned qawwali musician from Pakistan, and with the Department of Cultural Affairs to bring the popular Iraqi oud musician Rahim Al-Hajj to the annual Chicago World Music Festival.

Since then, both these and other partnerships have continued to create a local tradition of hosting shows and artists which present and explore contemporary and traditional Muslim artists and arts in their full diversity and breadth.  For example, earlier this year IMAN Arts and Culture presented the Chicago debut of Hamid Al-Saadi, the foremost authority of Iraqi Maqam, and Vieux Farka Touré, one of Africa’s most exciting and inspirational new artistic voices, and the son of one of the continent’s most celebrated musical gurus, the late Ali Farka Touré, both at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

This year’s Chicago World Music Festival concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music with Nawal and Slowbots will be another opportunity to bring a unique pairing of global-local art to a Chicagoland audience.  It promises to be a memorable night of music, and we hope to see you there!

Health Clinic Update: Expanded Services

The IMAN Health Clinic has been moving steadily towards its vision of becoming a comprehensive health center offering an array of services, including acupuncture, focused asthma visits, family, group, and marriage counseling. The Clinic is projected to extend its current operating hours to 7 days a week by the end of the current year (2013). Mental health services including marital, family, and individual counseling will be offered 5 days a week.

At present, we have a volunteer nurse practitioner, Susan Kilrakas, with extensive VA hospital work experience who has joined our team. With focused interest in diabetic foot care, she has been coming twice a week to provide patient education, physicals, and diabetes education.  As we have reopened our children’s vaccine program, Kilrakas has been instrumental in administering vaccines with her comforting bedside manners and skill in handing our pediatric patients.

Clinic-4The coming of October, 2013, marks the 10th successful group of Everest medical administrative students completing their externship in our Clinic. Many of these internship students are single mothers who are aspiring for careers in the medical field, and are filled with hope to improve their own lives and the future of their young children. Completion of their internship not only means a promise of better job prospects, but also alleviation of their financial concerns regarding support of their young children. Through this internship, they gain a strong recommendation letter, professional networks, and a great experience working with our diverse patient population.

Fatima Noubani, our volunteer family marriage therapist, has continued to provide weekly counseling sessions. Her contribution is of special importance to our community due to the closure of mental health clinics in our area. With Medicaid being a requirement for access to mental health, IMAN’s mental health program is one of the few free counseling programs in the Chicagoland, and a vital source of mental health care for both homeless and immigrant patients. Fatima’s Arabic speaking skills and her Muslim faith have attracted the Muslim patient population, a unique niche where mental health needs are unmet due to fear of personal stigma.

Lastly, we are looking forward to having Drs. Ibrahim Mansoor and Sarah Ahmed join our team in October. It’s an exciting time of growth at the IMAN Health Clinic. We hope to have continued community support in order help our Clinic reach its full potential!

Youth Leader Reflects on the Summer Program

Miriam Arredondo is an IMAN youth leader who participated in the 2013 summer programming.  In addition to working on the Muslim Run Campaign, Arredondo has also been impacted by the organizing work being done around immigration reform. Here is a reflection by her about her experience in the youth summer programming:

Miriam Arredondo“The children are the future of a better tomorrow!” IMAN has focused on making sure that the youth are prepared to take on the future with knowledge, compassion, and healthy choices when it comes to eating. In order to do this, several years back many young people voluntarily attended meetings in order to find out how to make a difference in their community. It seems odd how little we know about what is so close. In neighborhoods all around Chicago, a nutritional phenomenon worse than famine takes place on a daily basis. A Food Desert, or an area where healthy food is nearly unobtainable, is what our community has become. It’s saddening to know that in our neighborhood, these “corner stores” that are a main source of food for many people ignore nutritional and fresh food.

The organization where I am a youth leader, IMAN (Inner City Muslim Action Network), has taken a stand, through Muslim Run: A Campaign for Health, Wellness and Healing, to help get rid of these Food Deserts for good. We learned that many of these “corner stores” are run by Arab Americans, most of whom are Muslim. Our organization’s number one goal is to hold these store owners responsible to the moral standings they claim. We want all the store owners to take an oath to provide these areas with healthy food instead of worse alternatives.

If we were to accomplish this, it would mean rebuilding a community from the ground up and above all it will help us fix the problems the system has caused. It could potentially help omit many racial differences between the communities and also help better eating habits that would potentially reduce obesity in our areas.

In order to make sure this is successful, there has to be a long-lasting policy that will continue for a long period of time and not just for a short while. In order to keep small, local businesses engaged and not allow large business to run over all them, one must first help these small businesses understand the mindset of the people we are trying to empower. In order to educate everyone, we have a campaign to help people make better decisions when it comes to eating.

Over the summer, I also took part in IMAN’s digital media class of roughly thirty youth members who contributed to getting the word out about the Muslim Run Campaign. Our number one goal was to launch a newsletter, but the class was also meant to teach us both journalism, and marketing and advertising, skills. We learned about business ethics and strategies from the numerous guest speakers we had. We also had the pleasure of meeting with local business owners who talked to us about several skills that would help us implement the Muslim Run Campaign.

Although most programs depend on the funding of generous people, we hope to keep IMAN’s summer youth program around for as long as possible. It keeps youth off the streets and lowers crime levels in our neighborhood. It helps youth gain knowledge and utilize skills they never even knew they had. If IMAN can do this much for our youth, I have complete assurance that with the help of many generous people we can reach our goals for the Muslim Run Campaign.