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Milwaukee Muslim NGO Opens Youth Center

Milwaukee Muslim NGO Opens Youth Center
Brittany Khatib, a Ma’ruf volunteer, sorts books in the center’s library. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin – A Muslim non-profit organization has opened a new youth center in North Side, Milwaukee, helping youth of all backgrounds stay off the streets and out of trouble, Milwaukee New Service reported.

“We’re doing this as an exercise of our faith,” Elhadji Ba, Ma’ruf vice president, and executive director, said.

Ma’ruf opened its first chapter in Milwaukee in 2009. Several years ago, Then the organization decided to shift its focus to improving impoverished neighborhoods.

As part of this effort, members planted the Barakah Gardens near 6th Street and Layton Avenue, assisted refugees and cleaned up neighborhood streets.

ACE hardware store in W. Hampton in the Lincoln Park neighborhood went up for sale, Ma’ruf took it, opening a youth center for the neighborhood.

“It took us about a year,” said Ba. “A lot of our members had to do the work themselves because we needed ways to save money.”

Rayann Jaber teaches volunteers how to code in preparation for the start of the Girls Who Code program. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)

The construction ended in November 2018, and while the doors opened in December for an open house and orientation for new members, Ma’ruf waited until this month to start the after-school programming.

Opening doors to young people, Ma’ruf has a pool table, board games, and a gym, and children also can receive tutoring and take STEM-based classes.

“It’s just a big opportunity for the community,” Isabel Rodriguez, whose sons participate in activities at the center, said.

Islam instructs Muslims to help their community and benefit it.

“O you who believe, stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even if it be against yourselves, your parents, your relatives, and whether it be against rich or poor.” (The Holy Qur’an 4:135)

The Muslim NGO wrote on its website, “Ma’ruf is a non-profit Muslim organization that advocates social justice by serving individuals, families, and communities in need.”

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