Amaan Fan Project by Renad Dayfelah

The Amaan Charitable Foundation, Inc. was originally formed in 2016 to help connect Bay Area Arabic speaking immigrants and refugees with resources. When our volunteers identify unmet needs that will not be addressed by social services, we offer direct assistance through donations from supporters and local mosques. Recently we obtained a small grant to work on the Climate Resilience Project, in collaboration with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. The goal is to provide immediate relief during hot weather, while also promoting sustainable living practices that can mitigate the impacts climate change.

Amaan has been reaching out to Bay Area vulnerable populations, including refugees and immigrants, young children, seniors, low-income individuals and families. Like many service providers, we are encountering the increasing needs of people impacted by inadequate or no housing, unemployment, lack of healthcare, immigration issues, and more. These are the people least able to deal with the challenges posed by extreme heat and poor air quality in our community.

We chose to purchase electric fans for people living in (often overcrowded) quarters with inadequate ventilation and no air conditioning. Unlike central air conditioning, fans offer a targeted cooling solution that is energy-efficient and are environmentally friendly. Moreover, fans are a more affordable option in both initial cost and ongoing electricity usage. By choosing fans over AC units, we collectively reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future. Happily, we have been able to deliver fans to more than 100 households before the extreme heat event begins in the end of June. We will be helping another 100+, but our efforts have been slowed due to limited availability of volunteers.

The most significant hurdles we encounter are the cultural and language barriers, which often prevent immigrants and refugees from accessing essential resources and services. They may not receive information through their ethnic communication channels, or they may receive it in a language that they don’t understand. Santa Clara County is known for it’s diversity, and information is often translated into Spanish and Vietnamese. Sometimes it is also translated into Mandarin and Tagalog, but seldom in the lesser spoken languages such as Arabic, Aramaic, Farsi and Pashto. Also, the resources may be offered in government facilities that are difficult to reach or feel unsafe to some immigrants. Amaan’s programs are designed to avoid these well-known obstacles.

We have been delivering fans to families with no transportation. This month, we held a fan distribution event at the Arab American Community Center, and enlisted volunteers to speak with participants in Arabic and Pashto. In addition to high quality electric fans, they received education about the health effects of heat and poor air quality, and the availability of cooling centers. We also shared information on free programs to help with energy efficiency, and electrification. This is especially important for people with limited or no English who are often completely unaware of the help that is available to them. Many come from countries where there are no expectations of this type of assistance. Understanding the reality of climate change helps people to make informed choices that will benefit the whole community.

We are grateful to CADRE for alerting us to funding and helping us to expand our collaborative efforts. Specifically, we have distributed fans to the transitional housing program of ICNA (Islamic Council of North America), two food pantries, the MCA (Muslim Community Association), Blossom Valley Mosque Community Center, and we are establishing connections with the IRC (International Rescue Committee) and PARS.

Communicating with other service providers, we have found that the need is much greater than we could have imagined. We have already received requests for more than double the $10,000 of our small grant and we do not want to turn anyone away. We are looking for organizations that have resources and would accept referrals when our funds are exhausted. Amaan would also be happy to collaborate with other organizations to seek more funding. People need immediate relief (fans), and also practical multi-language information on how to deal with extreme weather. For more information or to collaborate with Amaan, please contact me.

Renad Dayfelah
Amaan Charitable Foundation Inc.