Eight Initiatives in 20 Years, Dr. Emdad Khan
A group of volunteers in the Barrhaven area started SNMC and developed eight initiatives along the way starting from 1998.
- Muslim Family Gathering of Ottawa (MFGO): In summer 1998, after intense efforts with few families, the volunteer team formed first of eight community initiatives, MFGO held the monthly gatherings, rotating in different parts of the city, including a community hall – use the Canadian concept of Potluck lunch. Held yearly picnic, iftar gatherings and celebrated Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. After 10 years, we discontinued MFGO in 2008.
- Muslim Community Services of Ottawa (MCSO): The same group of volunteer realized that immigrant children needed educational supports and immigrant families needed to learn how to conduct a job search and start home-based small businesses. In summer of 1999, few education-minded persons formed a registered non-profit organization, 2nd entity, MCSO. Ms. Asma Khan, one of the volunteers would organize annual (1999-2007) pre-Eid Bazaars before Al Fitr and Eid Al-Adha to support small home-based businesses in city community halls.
From 1999 to 2009, MCSO organized tutoring for High school students in Math, Science, English, French, Physics, Chemistry, etc. by renting city community centers. We hired university students as tutors and students would be charged $60-$100 per month for twice weekly two hours sessions. We held monthly family potlucks in Bayshore for parents and students which also provided an opportunity for everyone to socialize and gain ideas on education, job search, and family issues. We also organized job search and lectures on job, education, and family issues.
By seeing the benefits of tutoring, few parents donated extra money to MCSO and some tutors donated back their pay. Tutoring services were provided by volunteers. After discussion with team members, the extra funds were used in two ways – offer free studentship (tutoring) to selected students, each $100 and offered scholarships to graduating high school students, $600. In 2009, we stopped MCSO, and absorbed the tutoring and scholarship programs under SNMC (www.SNMC.ca).
3. South Nepean Muslim Community (SNMC): In June 1998, with few Barrhaven Muslims, we started SNMC as, our 3rd, and first registered non-profit and charity organization. We rented the city community center, at 3131 Jockvale Road from the city of Nepean and city of Ottawa. Then, we started to run under MCSO tutoring for high school students and under SNMC, from January 2000, Quran and Islamic studies.
We continued to pray weekly 2 prayers maghrib and Isha at Jockvale until 2003. In 2003, we started Jumah salah with 25 musallees until 2008, when we started 2 shifts with 150 people on each shift.
In 2007, SNMC formally became a Canadian registered Charity organization and first fundraising dinner was held at Centurion Hall with 500 plus multi-ethnic Muslims with Sk Ahmed Shehab as keynote speaker. In 2007, overall SNMC was able to raise over $300, 000 for the masjid and community centre project. In March 2009, SNMC by open bid purchased the 3.2 acres of land at 3020 Woodroffe Ave.
SNMC focused on youths, sisters, seniors, and families and became a leader in organized sports, educational, social and spiritual programs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for all segments, and ethnicities. The place is always full of kids, youths, sisters, brothers, and seniors in all activities. SNMC is fully multi-ethnic, and multi fiqh, service-oriented masjid and community centre.
The vision of having the community centre and masjid was multifold: to bring kids, youths, sisters, and brothers into masjid, adding more than spiritual activities, only sports, events and education along with spiritual will glue the community to masjid. Also for Friday Jumah and Ramadan Taraweeh, a large masjid may be formed by combining the community centre with the existing masjid, other times in the year the community centre can be used for sports and family-centric community events.
In June 2013, we started the construction of SNMC centre and masjid. The community received the occupancy permit on 17 December 2014 and held the grand opening ceremony with 2,000 Muslims on January 5, 2015. The project cost $8.5M.
From June 1998 to January 2016, as the founding president, we spent 20 years of our life, did numerous fund-raising trips out of town with volunteers from diverse backgrounds. We were project managers and did all the jobs from cleaning, leading salah, to giving Jumah khutbah. My wife and children together with the community volunteers held over 100 community potlucks. We have overcome hundreds of internal and external obstacles in funding, projects, and community issues. We consider it to be equivalent to 20 Ph.D. projects.
…to be continued!