Virginia's Muslim Poverty Fighter
By IslamOnline.net & Newspapers
BERRYVILLE, Virginia — Bisma Y. Sheikh, a young Muslim girl, is celebrated as a shinning star in the city of Berryville in Clarke County, Virginia, where she is recognized as a poverty fighter, the Winchester Star reported on Monday, June 1.
"This young lady exhibited great self confidence and truly a spirit and eagerness to bring people together," said Karen Schultz, the Star Leadership Awards Committee Chairman at Clarke County High School.
"We found her inspirational."
Sheikh, an 18-year-old senior at Clarke County High School, won on Sunday, May 31, the school’s 2009 Star Leadership Award.
The 5,000-dollar prize is a yearly event in Clarke County that dates back to 50 years ago.
Schultz asserted that while all the other nominees were praiseworthy, Sheikh’s commitment for peace and relief was extraordinary.
She was honored for "a combination of excellence of character, qualities of leadership, and devotion to duty."
In addition to the leadership award, Sheikh won two other service-related certificates, both of which came with $1,000 prizes.
Sheikh volunteers at Berryville Primary School, giving one-on-one help to kindergarten and first-grade students.
After completing her undergraduate degree in four years, she hopes to attend law school.
She wants to work in the Middle East and around the world on issues of peace, conflict resolution, human rights, and civil rights.
The young Muslim is particularly recognized within the local community as a global poverty fighter.
"Even though I was born in the US, my family is from Pakistan, and I’ve seen poverty," she told the Winchester Star.
"I’ve seen hunger, I’ve seen helplessness and orphans in the streets."
She considers her passion about fighting poverty as a natural component of her faith.
"I do what I do because I love it."
Sheikh helped package more than 50,000 meals this year for children in Haiti through the Stop Hunger Now relief agency.
The experience was even more meaningful since she was fasting that day.
She also helped raise money in 2004 for the Afghan Children’s Fund and in 2005 to help earthquake victims in Pakistan.
"Every parent prays and hopes that their child will be the one selected," her father Yousaf said about the awards.
"And we are so proud."