Aden in Dallas

Aden is a junior majoring in accounting in the Cox School of Business and markets and culture in Dedman College. For summer 2011, she was named a Maguire & Irby Family Foundation Public Service Summer Intern by the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility at SMU. Aden is interning at DFW International Community Alliance.

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Support for refugee women

My fourth week at DFW International was very productive, and I learned how to write effective and powerful grant proposals. As usual, we started the day with what we call “culture”: our group discussion about current ethical issues in the world.

The one that stood out to me is Saudi Arabian women fighting for the freedom to drive. Just recently, women in Saudi Arabia have been openly driving cars in defiance of an official ban on female drivers. The ban is not enforced by law, but is a religious fatwa imposed by conservative Muslim clerics. Some women were arrested for driving, but they are still pushing until something is done about it. It made me appreciate the freedom we have in America.

Other than learning about current ethical issues, I spent the whole week planning educational classes for East African women. In East African culture, as in much of the developing world, women have less access to education and fewer economic opportunities. In their traditional roles they must be subservient to male figures. The social, political, and economic freedom granted to women in the United States often causes friction as men, who are accustomed to being dominant and exercising leadership in the family, have a difficult time accepting women as equals.

The difference in attitude toward women, combined with the poverty resulting from their newcomer status, has resulted in verbal abuse, battery and divorce for many Ethiopian and Eritrean refugee women in the United States. Therefore, we spend the week organizing Saturday classes that focus on financial literacy, health and wellness, parenting, family security and job preparedness for these women.

I contacted several organization and programs in the D/FW area that are willing to partner with us, such as Catholic Charities, HIPPY USA, Unidos program, WIC educators and African health professionals. I also completed two big grants that will help fund the project.

On Fridays, we have cultural enrichment trips, and this week we visited a Mosque and saw how its members pray. After that, we went to an Indian restaurant for lunch.

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