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The Somali Community and and Temple Israel organized an interfaith, intercultural event that will create connections, build relationship, and enhance discussion on about our narratives on Jewish and Somali communties shared stories of religion, culture, and tradition. The event which was Nefesh Shabbat Service took place at Temple Israel on Friday, April 15, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
During the Nefesh Shabbat Service, there were prayer for peace by Imam Roble; Shabbat Candle Blessing by Kiki Alexander, Deborah Gollin, Olivia Gollin, Vanessa Gollin, and Joan Jaquish; Prayer of Freedom by Abdi Phenomenal; Prayer of Strength by Ikram Osman; D'rash: One Women's Narrative for Hodan Hasan; Response: A Bridge Toward Understanding by Andy Luger, U.S. Attorney of Minnesota; Board Blessing by Bob Ketroser; Aleinu, Kaddish by Rabbi Zimmerman, and Benediction by Rabbi Zimmerman.
During the event, Tarabi Jama, the Executive Director of Gateway Institute met leaders from the Somali community and the Temple Israel to discuss the important of building such a bridge toward understanding that connects between the two communities. Mr. Jama also met Andy Luger, U.S. Attorney of Minnesota to congratulate him on his fordward thinking manner.
On Thursday, March 16, 2016, Tarabi Jama, the Executive Director of Gateway Institute with other community leaders welcomed President of Somalis Puntland Government, Dr. Abdiwali Mohamed Ali Gaas to Minnesota. President Gaas, a former professor of economy at the University of Buffalo, New York back to Somalia several years ago to contribute his experience on governance and institutional building. Gaas was appointed as the Prime Minister of The Federal Republic of Somalia in 2011-2012 in a time where Somalia transforming from transitional to a permanent government. On Agust 8, 2014, Prime Minister Gaas was elected as President of Puntland State of Somalia, an autonomous state in northeastern Somalia established in 1998 after the civil war in1990.
President Gaas came to Minnesota to meet Somali community and share the coming parliamentary and presidential election in Somalia scheduled in August 2016.
President Gaas also met Minnesota house and senate leaders in St. Paul, Minneapolis city councils, and other public officials to talk about the current situation in Somalia in particular Puntland State of Somalia. He talked the political and the security challenges facing to his nation especially threats posted by al-Shabab and ISIS.
The Executive Director of Gateway Institute, Tarabi Jama shared with Presient Gaas challanges and opportunities that Somali community in Minnesota faces on a daily basis. President Gaas impressed Somali community role in Minnesota, their political influence and the businesses they accomplished. President Gaas highlighted the role of the Somali Diasporas and what they can contribute to rebuild Somalia.
On Tuesday, March 8, 16, Gateway Institute organized welcome dinner for Congressman Abdulkadir Hashi of The Federal Government of Somalia. Rep. Hashi who is Somali Canadian back to his native country several years ago to assist local institutions.
The Executive Director of Gateway Institute, Tarabi Jama welcomed Rep. Hashi to Minneapolis and talked the role of Gateway Institue in regard to promoting and increasing CIVIC ENGAGEMENT activities in targeted neighborhoods densely populated by Somali immigrants and New Americans, and engage members of the Somali community in civic life, community organizing, advocacy, and voter registration, education, and mobilization. Mr. Jama also highlighted that his organization help in building the skills, knowledge, and experience that enable people to effectively participate in the democratic process. He said, "We are hoping that by explaining the importance of voting in the election that more people, especially from within the Somali immigrant community, will participate in civic engagement and some will take the initiative and develop leadership skills to rally their respective immigrant communities to vote which will then lead to an increase in opportunities for representation of underrepresented communities (immigrants).
Rep. Hashi talked the next Parliamentary election in Somalia scheduled to be held in 2016, enhancing the system of federalism that Somalia adopted, and the role of government on defeating terrorist groups like al-Shabab and ISIS fighting in Somalia. In addition, Rep. Hashi talked the important of civic engagement.
Former Minister of Planning and International Cooperation and current Congressman Said Abdullahi Deni arrived Minnesota Friday evening, October 30, 2015 to meet Somali community in Minnesota. Rep. Deni visited various places in the metropolitan areas that the community lives in and has business including Somali Malls in Minneapolis, the Minnesota's main commercial city. He was greeted by cheering crowds holding Somali and American flags at Minneapolis/St. Paul International airport. Rep. Deni met members of the Somali Diasporas in Minnesota including community organization, religious leaders, women organizations, and Puntland Diasporas Forum. The Representative briefed the current developments in Somalia, the upcoming elections in 2016 and strategic partnership between the United States and Somalia.
He also met the Executive Director of Gateway Institute for Research and Development, a think tank organization that provides community development, entrepreneurship training, and business innovation to low-income communities in Minnesota to transform their lives for the better. He also visited Saint Louis Park Public Schools in the state Minnesota and met superintendent Rob Metz, Tami Reynolds, the Director of Special Services and Scott Meyer, the High School Principal on which Rep. Deni talked his role of education during the Somali civil war in the 90s. He further pointed out the notion that every child should be guaranteed access to a world-class education. Rep. Deni toured High School facilities and met District staffs, teachers, and students.
Rep. Deni, also met Kurt Daudt, Speaker of the House and Minnesota House of Representatives on Thursday, November 5, 2015, and talked about how to cooperate between the Minnesota State and Somalia. The two legislators also spoke about the need to continue the mutual friendship. On Friday, November 8, 2015, Rep. Deni was a keynote speaker at Somalia event wherein he highlighted challenges in Somalia, the role for the Somali leadership to be above narrow personal and political interest and to lead the country for the greater good of Somalia. He praised the progress made and noted opportunities missed; he also highlighted solution on the current crisis in Somalia must come from Somali themselves.
Rep. Deni was optimistic about Somali Americans and overcoming the challenges they faced. They thanked His Excellency for service and sacrifice he has made for the greater good of Somalia. Prior to his arrival, Rep. Deni stopped by other US states including New York and the State of Ohio where he met members from the Somali Diaspora. Rep. Deni has been a member of the Federal Parliament of Somalia since 2012.
On Friday, April 10th, 15, Gateway Institute hosted community meeting for guest speaker Emily Baxter, the Director of "WE ARE ALL CRIMINALS", "a non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks to inspire empathy and ignite social change through personal stories of crime, privilege, justice, and injustice, disrupting the barriers that separate us". Emily is a former fellow at the University of Minnesota Law School’s Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice.
Although vast mojity of employers, and vast majority of employers, legislators, landlords, and many other entities decide the character of an individual because of his/her criminal record, the porject of "WE ARE ALL CRIMINALS" deals with the other 75% of us who have luxury of living without an official reminder of a past mistake. The meeting took place at Sherman Associates, Longfellow Station Apt in Minneapolis, MN. For more information, please please visit http://www.weareallcriminals.com.
In May 2013, concerning Puntland Government of Somalia’s transition to a multi-party system, it was highly necessary to reach out to university students and educate them about voting education. The idea was about rational deliberation and mutual respect for opposing ways of life in democratic states.
Gateway Institute’s Promoting Civic Engagement was to strengthen the capabilities of local civic groups especially university students. We offered a variety of civic education circles to educate university students about the importance of having fair and free elections, the important of women and minority political participation, and recognition of challenges and opportunities facing civic education in the 21st century.
Voter and civic education were necessary to ensure that all constituents including university students understand their rights, districts' political platforms, the contests they are being asked to decide, and how and where to vote. For an election to be successful and democratic, students were supposed to understand their rights and responsibilities, and must be sufficiently knowledgeable and well informed to cast ballots that are legally valid and to participate meaningfully in the voting process. Voter and civic education were even more critical in post-conflict countries like the Puntland State of Somalia, where political situations may be volatile and where elections may have an unprecedented impact on the state's future.
Moving into a multi-party system might create further chaos and violence among different party supporters. Transitioning to the multi-party system, was highly necessary to reach out to university students to open free dialogue, political rights, freedom of association, access to information through mass media to allow civic tolerance so that citizens can enjoy diverse conceptions of the good, and create cohesion and loyalty for the country.
In this regard, the Gateway Institute had students' information sessions through Puntland Universities. We held civic education sessions in East African University campuses in Bosaso, Garowe, Galkacyo, and Buhodle. We also held sessions at Puntland State University in Garowe, Garowe Teachers EducationCollege in Garowe, University of Science and Technology (PUST) in Galkayo, and Makhir University in Sanaag.
We reached 1400 students at eleven different university campuses in Puntland. Students who attend Puntland universities are considered about 8000. So students we reached were about 17.5 percent of which 64 percent were female and 36 percent were male.
On January, 2013, President of the Somali Federal Republic, HE: Hassan Sheikh Mohamud visited Minneapolis, MN. Mohamud’s visit to Minneapolis came a day after he met with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the White House. Mohamud admired the Somali community for their positive contributions to the U.S. and to Somalia. “The renewed diplomacy between the United States and Somalia wouldn't be possible without your strong voices,” Mohamud said of the Minnesota Somali community. “Somali-Americans played a big role in the renewed friendship of the two countries. And I thank you for that.” Mohamud appealed to Somalis to return home and become part of the country’s reconstruction.
About 200 people stood outside, holding signs with messages against Mohamud and shouting “down with the president” while Mohamud spoke to thousands of supporters inside the Minneapolis convention center. The protesters criticized the president of “dictatorship,” saying that he stumbled on the constitution by not supporting federalism in Somalia. However, the president welcomed their opinion and said to protesters “I’m glad that these people are holding up signs, and not guns”. He welcomed talks with the demonstrators, saying, “We will apologize if we’re on the wrong side.” Mohamud was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister Fawzia Adan, Minister of Information and Telecommunication Abdullahi Emloge Hirsi, and Deputy Somali Ambassador to United Nations Idd Bedel Mohamed.
The Executive Director of Gateway Institute, Tarabi Jama and his staff welcomed President Hassan Sh. Mohamud and his delegate to Minneapolis. Jama and the president talked about the current situation of Somalia and how Diasporas can help rebuilding Somalia after twenty years of civil war, piracy, and religious extremism. Jama then had breakfast with the president along with Somali community leaders on which former Somali Prime Minister HE: Abdirizak Haji Hussein addressed the event and talked to on how to rebuild Somalia. Likewise, Mr. Jama met Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister Fawzia Adan. He shared the minister about the financial contribution that the Somali American community in Minnesota sent to areas affected by famine that hit Somalia from 2011 on which nearly 260,000 people died. With the community assistance Gateway Institute also sent k-12 books, college and university books, computers, medical equipment, etc to Somalia.
Other dignitaries who welcomed the Somali President include U.S. Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN). Speaking at the event, Congressman Ellison encouraged the Somali community to continue supporting Somalia. “You should ask yourself, ‘What can I do to help Somalia,’” Ellison said to the crowd, which broke into a standing ovation when he was introduced. He also made certain to the community that Somalia has many friends in the United States and Minnesota, who will stand by their side during the rebuilding of their country.