On July 7th WISE was honored by community leaders at the 8th annual Queens Unity Iftar, a large community banquet held in honor of Muslims in Queens who are participating in the holy month of Ramadan. It was an immense honor to have been selected from among the many groups that are devoted to uplifting the diverse people in New York City and are impacting the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Founder and President Rana Abdelhamid and board member Nitasha Siddique accepted the award on behalf of WISE. Rana spoke about the vision of WISE and her experiences that sparked the founding of the organization. After being a victim of a hate-driven act, Rana channeled her background in Shotokan karate to help empower young Muslim women in her community to combat hatred with self-confidence. Since its first year, WISE has grown thanks to the support of the community and the brilliance of the participants. Graduates from WISE go on to develop the skills they’ve gained to become effective and compassionate activists and leaders who never hesitate to speak up and call for change. Rana expressed her overflowing pride in the members of the organizations who have helped it expand into Washington D.C., New Jersey, Texas, and Madrid, and her hopes to see our movement continue to push forward.
Nitasha spoke about the impact WISE has had on her life. She discussed the security and closeness she felt to the girls she spent her summer with as a mentee in the 2014 Mentee Muslima program. Her positive experience encouraged her to pursue the Leadership Fellowship and lead the Manhattan Mentee Muslima program the next summer. As a board member, she also reflected on the way WISE has shaped her future for the better – giving her the necessary confidence, leadership skills, and support through the mentorship program to propel her towards her future as a college student at Princeton University. She expressed her hopes to continue working with WISE in order to see other young women be inspired as she had been.
WISE is extremely thankful to all of the organizers, volunteers, and sponsors of the iftar for their hard work and dedication to encouraging more community engagement and unity across Queens. We are excited to continue our work with young women in the Queens community and look forward to future partnerships and collaborations with local leaders.