Imagine a child that has to be removed from his/her own home because of neglect, abuse, or other family tragedy and now has to live with a family that does not share their faith, culture, or language.
That is the reality for many Muslim children that through no fault of their own, enter a foster care system that is unfamiliar with their faith, and have very few licensed Muslim foster homes to go to.
These disturbing statistics were what drew mothers Ranya Shbeib and Sameena Zahoor, with young families of their own, to become licensed foster parents. Soon after theirfoster parenting experience began, they each sought out unsuccessfully at first, to find other Muslim foster families for support. They were ultimately able to connect through a mutual friend, and quickly became life-lines for each other.
Ranya and Sameena soon realized that there needed to be an easier way for Muslim foster families to connect with one another for advice and support. They also recognized that there were many Muslim foster children having to be placed in homes of other faiths, because of the lack of licensed Muslim foster families available. They teamed up with another friend Mona Youssef (a family court referee), Samaritas (a local foster care agency), and a local Imam to give panel presentations in several Muslim community mosques to raise awareness of the issue.
Through their presentations, the panel tackled cultural and religious barriers facing prospective foster families, met other Muslim foster families and learned about the many challenges Muslim foster children were facing. Although there were many successful Muslim social service organizations in Michigan providing great services to our communities, none focused on foster care.
In the summer of 2016 the friends began the journey to establish the first Muslim Foster Care Association, a non-profit organization to bring voice and support to the voiceless and neglected.