Safety. Security. Community. People from the world over hold these values to be essential components of building a good life. Mona Kafeel, chief operating officer of the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, is no different.
Mona’s family has lived in Northern Pakistan for centuries. Her great grandparents were traders and merchants who traveled the ancient Silk Road selling their wares. Due to their experience with the ancient trading route, her extended family is very diverse, claiming Chinese, Central Asian and Pakistani roots. Pakistan was a diverse and beautiful country in which to grow up; however, as she grew into adulthood, the political landscape changed.
Mona studied Landscape Design at UCLA as a young woman. Her experience in the United States was a good one, and when she and her husband decided to look for a home where they could build a life and be safe, they chose the United States. They arrived with their four-year-old daughter, settled into Dallas and began looking for a community to call home. A son was born one year later.
Finding a safe community with good schools was her most important criteria. “My dream was to see my children walking to school. I wanted them to be able to walk to school safely. Security in Pakistan had deteriorated. People were being kidnapped.” Her family and friends had resorted to hiring security guards for protection as they made their way to work and school.
Plano ISD offered her children safety and an excellent education. Carlisle Elementary was their first choice, and she and her family moved into a home within walking distance of the school. Both the school district and the city offered her family acceptance and welcome.
As a Carlisle parent, Mona volunteered with the PTA, was a leader for Destination Imagination, aided the Reflections art program and, with the help of the City of Plano, launched the PTA’s environmental sciences program at Carlisle. “The City of Plano allowed me to come up with an idea and execute it. The school gave me space and helped me. Carlisle has been a very important part of my life and has taught me the value of giving back.”
Giving back to her community is what informs Mona’s work with the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, or TMWF. The Plano-based foundation was founded in 2005 as a response to the events of 9/11. Twenty-six Muslim women gathered together and began to talk about how they could help their community. They wanted the greater populace to know their Muslim neighbors, and they wanted to do meaningful work for the area they loved.
The mission of TMWF is to empower, promote and support all women and their families. It does this through focusing on the needs of the family by providing social services, counseling, safe shelter for families experiencing domestic violence, life skills education and programming for youth. It is also involved in interfaith outreach. Currently, 30 percent of visitors are non-Muslims, and its programs are open to anyone in need. In addition to on-site services, TMWF also operates a 24-hour crisis hotline. The staff consists of administrative support, social workers, caseworkers, counselors and an attorney. TMWF’s staff is culturally sensitive and 14 languages are spoken in the agency. Volunteers are cherished and welcomed and opportunities are posted on the website.
Mona is a champion of her hometown. Plano has given her safety for her family, education for her children, freedom to worship and a place to thrive and call home. “I want to be here. I want my children to be here. I want to grow old here. I am blessed.”Texas Muslim Women's Foundation Website >