Open Arms at Day of Dignity in D.C.

The southwest corridor of Washington D.C. is home to some of our nation’s most historic neighborhoods. The American Islamic Heritage Museum (AIHM), a venue that exhibits the rich story of Islam in the states has become part and parcel of that history for the last seven years. In October, AIHM’s partnership with Islamic Relief USA in providing its annual Day of Dignity highlighted the strength of community and the power of what an all-hands-on-deck approach to service brings. A part of a second year effort with Islamic Relief USA, this year AIHM is one of 18 institutions nationwide holding Day of Dignity initiatives. A steady flow of patrons came from the corners of the neighborhood with children in tow, excited to see service providers lining the parking lot of the museum.

“It’s amazing to see everyone here having a good time and being able to take something home for their families,” Amir Muhammad director of AIHM said while standing on the small performance stage. As people came and went, picking up fresh produce, resource pamphlets and dinner plates, the live performers kept the crowd buzzing in the heat. Health disparities in the southwestern corridor have largely affected the African American community. In a 2016 study by Georgetown University, African Americans were six times as likely to suffer from diabetes, men 3.5 times as likely to die from prostate cancer, and families 3.5 times as likely to live under the poverty line. The interior of the museum featured a modest on-the-spot health clinic where free diagnostics were run throughout the day and brochures were distributed featuring how-to’s for inexpensive proactive healthcare measures. By the day’s end, 300 hygiene and 185 school kits made their ways into the hands of anybody who was in need.

“I’m happy that we came together to today for such an occasion. I grew up right here in this city,” said featured artist Ihsan Bilal.