In 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit East Coast America. Volunteers from Indonesian communities in New York City and Philadelphia provided reliefs to hurricane Sandy victims in New York and New Jersey. The volunteers met, worked together, and promised they would always work together to give aid for disaster relief in the US. In 2013, Moore city in Oklahoma was hit by big tornado named EF-5. The Indonesian volunteers went to the city and gave relief to shelters and some Indonesian community members in Oklahoma. Some Indonesian community-based organizations and Republic of Indonesia Consulate in Houston, supported the relief project in Oklahoma. After the relief project finished, the volunteers agreed to form an organization that provides relief and empowerment program in the US. The organization was inspired by Dompet Dhuafa, or The Wallet for the Impoverished, in Indonesia.
Dompet Dhuafa USA was established in January 2014 and determined as a public charity, 501c3, organization in 2015. The organization has been independent from the beginning. Initially, in Spring 2014, Dompet Dhuafa USA provided Arabic and Indonesian language courses for children in South Philadelphia in order to recognize and reinforce their cultural heritage. Later, the program expanded with various programs in response to the needs of the local community members. In Spring 2015 the organization partnered with Fumo Free Library in order to offer childrens’ Arabic language classes to community members from Arabic speaking countries such as Algeria, Morocco, and Lebanon. At the same time, we organized a batik workshop in south Philadelphia for Indonesian American children, in cooperation with local artist Donna Backues. In Spring of 2016, we coordinated with House of Angklung and the Indonesian embassy in Washington DC to launch a program called Angklung Goes to School. This program taught children in five public Philadelphia schools how to play bamboo instruments from Indonesia, as a lesson in multiculturalism and conservation of nature. We also had a community savings group and micro-lending group to empower our community members financially.
As an Indonesian community-based organization, we also serve as an intermediary between community members and Indonesia, by sending aid in times of natural disaster, such as in Fall 2015 at the time of the forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo. Later, the humanitarian aid was expanded not only in times of disaster. Some empowerment program were set up as a continuing support and relation. We believe generosity, dignity, sustainability, and equality are our highest priorities in providing relief and empowering communities across the globe.