For Ishfaq Ahmad, his Muslim faith is a driving force behind his desire to volunteer for Dallas CASA. With his youngest of three adult children in college, he decided it was time to put his faith into action by becoming a Dallas CASA volunteer. Ishfaq works as a systems business analyst and recently relocated with his wife from Pittsburgh to Sachse.

What brought you to Dallas CASA?

I was looking specifically for an organization that provided mentoring services to foster children who are aging out of the system. During my research I found CASA and decided to take this route.

How does your faith impact your desire to serve?

There is a lot of emphasis in my religion (Islam) on serving God’s creations. We are highly encouraged to serve the needs of others whether it is to feed them, to clothe them or to provide shelter. The act of making someone happy is the same as donating to a charity. We believe the best way to serve God is to serve His creation.

Any tips for Dallas CASA volunteers assigned to serve children in protective care who are Muslim?

Muslims have some dietary restrictions. Pork and alcohol are prohibited, and halal meats are preferred. Many Muslims also follow a modest dress code and some Muslim teenaged girls may wear hijab, a head cover. I am working now with a local Muslim nonprofit and Dallas CASA to make sensitivity training available to volunteers. More details to come!

What have you learned about the child welfare system while working on your first case?

All parties involved have the best interest of the child in mind, but workers may be overloaded with cases. Case workers can change in the middle of a case and court hearings can be postponed which delays progress. In some ways, it is not too different from my work where I sometimes need to send repeated reminders to my colleagues to get their attention because we are all busy.

How has the experience been the same or different than you expected?

This is my first time working with foster parents, and I did not know what to expect. The foster placement for my CASA child is a wonderful and loving person, and I have a lot of admiration for her dedication.

What would you tell friends and colleagues about this experience?

This has been a very satisfying experience, and I look forward to my monthly visit with the CASA child. I am already singling out some friends to recruit as CASA volunteers and have expressed to my manager that I would like to share my experience with my colleagues in the near future.