Morton Grove family is using the week’s subzero temperatures not as an excuse to stay inside, but as a reason to venture out and connect with their neighbors.
Sabeel Ahmed and his wife, Asma Naheed, spent late Tuesday afternoon delivering copies of hand-written letters to 40 homes in their neighborhood. The letters offered the family’s help in picking up groceries or medications during the cold snap, or clearing away snow.
“As temperatures dip way below zero, neighbors are the ones to help each other,” the letters said.
The family of five also invited their neighbors to stop by their home “for hot tea and samosa,” and daughter Zainab created a video of the outreach campaign, which was shared on YouTube.
The initiative is also a way to show others the positive aspects of the family’s Muslim faith, Ahmed acknowledged.
“Helping neighbors is a big part of the faith,” he said. “But there is also a fear about Islam and Muslims. We don’t want people to judge Islam or any other faith just based on the news …. There are so many commonalities we have as humans, as Americans and as people of faith.”
Ahmed’s work life mirrors his neighborhood outreach. He is executive director of GainPeace, an Oakbrook Terrace-based organization aimed at educating the public about Islam and inviting people to call or email representatives with questions they have about the faith.
“Even though this was a personal initiative to help neighbors, it is connected to the bigger work I do, which is to dispel misconceptions people have about Islam and Muslims,” Ahmed said.