This week B.C. & Mordant welcome Minkailu Jalloh, a U.S. Programs Specialist at IRUSA. In part one of this two-part interview, Minkailu takes listeners inside his role in the Programs department at IRUSA.
The department has several regular, annual programs such as Day of Dignity, Qurbani meat distributions and Ramadan food distributions. Recently, however, there has been an increased focus on branching out to work even more with the community. The department aims to create spaces for unique programs — both emergency and long term. This is where Minkailu directs most of his energy and passion.
“We work a lot with community-based organizations all across the United States,” he says. “In a lot of instances, these organizations are relatively new, and they are strong in terms of the projects that they are doing and the way that they are bringing benefit to their community, but the structure of their organization is not necessarily strong.”
Minkailu assists these organizations with things like impact tracking and capacity development so that they can learn how to improve their services to their communities.
In this episode, he talks specifically about one project which he spearheaded—an organized response to the Flint water crisis earlier this year. With Minkailu’s lead, the IRUSA community distributed more than 300,000 bottles of clean, drinkable water to the residents of Flint, Michigan. Through this effort, IRUSA was able to help combat the toxic water crisis that had hindered the area.
Tune in to hear the inside story behind this important project, including insightful commentary from someone who has spent significant time with the community.
That commentary includes predictions about the uncertain future of Flint in the aftermath of this crisis. Minkailu describes a scenario that has repeated itself throughout the history of this country. In this scenario, grant money floods into communities following a crisis, and that money is taken by developers. So often, the developers’ plans do not include the impoverished population “Once money starts to flow in,” he says, “it becomes a place for people with money.”
“It will be lauded as a great success story, but this country is composed of more than one class of people,” he says, “and as they often are, those people will probably be left out of the recovery.”
Despite the uncertainty of the future, Minkailu offers one observation that was certain after meeting the residents of Flint.
“People were distressed with their circumstances, but you saw the resiliency.”
Check out part two of this interview next week!