Families from the ADAMS community enjoyed spending time together while walking in support of victims of domestic violence. Photos courtesy of ADAMS
On June 16, 2012, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Sterling, Va. held its first official walk-a-thon. More than 60 people from around the community, ranging in age 3- to 80-years-old, joined together to raise money for victims of domestic violence and homelessness from 6:30 to 10:00 a.m.
The ADAMS boy scouts set up water and first aid tents for the walkers and volunteers cooked a generous breakfast for all of the participants.
Each person had to walk a minimum of 10 circles around the masjid and parking lot. One circle was 0.4 miles and sponsors pledged $5 per lap.
The turnout was more than what organizers, Sohaira Sultan, Shama Sheikh and Khalid Iqbal had expected. Anticipating no more than 20 people, they were shocked to see over 60 registrants. Iqbal, the main organizer, believes the walk was a success. The event raised almost $2000 for victims of domestic violence and homelessness.
The purpose of the walk was not only to raise money, but to also raise awareness regarding domestic violence and homelessness. ADAMS Imam Mohamed Magid addressed the issue after the walk.
“This issue is prevalent in society but no one talks about it,” Iqbal said. “Often, sisters have nowhere to go. [Sometimes], they sleep in their car for days with their children.”
ADAMS works with seven shelters in Northern Virginia, providing meals and conducting interfaith work with Christian and Jewish shelter staff members and residents to develop solid relationships. The June 16 walk-a-thon was in support of Shelter House, and Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help (FAITH), two local organizations focused on humanitarian aid.
The organizers decided that a walk-a-thon was the best way to raise awareness about domestic violence and homelessness, citing the Islamic principles of being proactive and taking action in order to help those less fortunate. Iqbal brought up a host of examples throughout Islamic history, such as the story of Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail throwing stones at the Shaytan.
The organizers considered the walk a success mainly because everyone was satisfied they participated. “People liked it,” Iqbal said.
“The walk-a-thon showed solidarity with a lot of people who are facing homelessness and domestic violence,” said Imam Magid, who also participated in the walk. “There is a connection between homelessness and domestic violence. Many women who come out of domestic violent situations become homeless. Today’s walk is to recognize the need to stand in solidarity, and be the voice for the voiceless.”
“[I wanted] to help the needy and the homeless,” said Hana Ben Ghalbon, an ADAMS Sunday school teacher who works full-time in housing and community development. “The effort of everyone else can help achieve the goal. One thousand mile marathons start with one step.”
The community felt so good about taking action that they asked when there would be another walk-a-thon. There is another walk being planned for mid October, and this one will be a little bigger.
Iqbal sees domestic violence and homelessness as a national issue. He wishes to pull all 100 masjids in the tri-state area together, and even invite people of other faiths, to join the next walk-a-thon.