Under the topic of ‘Letting our Lives Speak,’ Ujima Friends Peace Center shared a PowerPoint presentation about the spiritual and community work done during its first year of operation. The Center was founded by the Friends of African Descent, and incorporated as a 501(c)3.
The word Ujima means my brothers’ and sisters’ problems are also my problems, and we work together to solve them. It represents family, community, connection, and a place that takes on the needs and joys within the neighboring streets.
Ujima offers a home within Quakerism to be a Quaker of African descent. They hold weekly worship at 2:00 on Sundays, and offer high-impact programming every day of the week.
Its members see the Center as a:
- “place where I can practice peace…among Friends”
- “spiritual place where in silence or in speaking … I can connect with God.
- “concept of Black Quakerism that reaches out and connects with the community”
Ayeshi Imani said that Ujima’s leadership is “swept up in the miracle” of Ujima Peace Center’s growth and accomplishment, and “we are walking forward in faith.” First among their programs is a peace curriculum developed with the help of Tracy Smith at Green Street Monthly meeting.
A survey of the nearby residents revealed that neighbors had two key needs: addressing violence, and securing after-school programming for children, so the center developed programs for both. Ujima’s after school students have also been mentored in self-advocacy—resulting in a symposium with city officials. A renter’s rights class is hosted every Saturday.
Their woman’s circle is currently reading Marcelle Martin’s ‘Our Life is Love,’ and Ujima runs Inter-generational programming located at the Mbongi Freedom School. They’ve also embraced work with other community organizations, like Philabundance, hosting monthly grocery giveaways that reached 1100 families in 8 months. Each of these are mighty accomplishments, taken together they demonstrate remarkable achievement.
Friends of all descents are welcome to engage with Ujima, and meetings and individual Friends support the Ujima Center financially. There are opportunities to open additional Quaker centers in areas like Kensington, where other people have been forgotten and need help.
The Ujima Center is at 1701 West Lehigh Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19132. Their website is www.ujimafriends.org