Food Warriors learn self determination and give service

At the Shrine of the Black Madonna, you may find children working in the community garden, preparing food or smoothies from the harvest or cleaning up around the area. It’s all part of the way they give back to their community, especially on Neighborhood Day.
Teaching children to be of service to their community is a vital part of the education they
receive through the Shrine’s Freedom School and a related project: the Detroit Black
Community Food Security Network Food Warrior youth development program.
“The children have participated in past Neighborhoods Day events by helping with the cleanup
activities that the church is engaged in and one year the children made green smoothies using the
spinach and kale from the garden for volunteers to sample,” said Mama Tonja (Hanifa) Adjuman,
affectionately known as Mama Hani- fa, who runs the Shrine of the Black Madonna Freedom School.
“I have the youth participate because it is important that they understand their responsibility to the community,” she said. “Our work with the Detroit Black Community Food
Security Network Food Warrior youth development program is grounded in the Nguzo Saba (The
Seven Kwanza Principles), having the children engage in all aspects of community allows them
to see how the principles apply in our everyday lives. It’s about connecting food to the totality
of our living experiences so that they see that it’s all connected”.
The Shrine’s Neighborhood’s Day plans this year include a food give-a-way, free clothing, and community clean-up, along with aspects of the Food Warriors
project.
“Our children need to see themselves as valued community members taking responsibility for the health and well-being of our community,” Mama Hanifa said. “It teaches them that we are the solution to the challenges we face and that is empowering.”
Twelve-year-old food warrior Na’Kyah Adjuman fondly recalls her experience from last year.
“We made green smoothies using kale and spinach from our garden,” she said. “We wanted to
provide a healthy treat to the community and introduce them to the Detroit Black Community Food
Security Network and the Food Warriors program. We wanted to be involved with not just making the neighborhood and our church look nice. We also love interacting with our community.”
Bishop Mbiyu Chui, Pastor of the Shrine of the Black Madonna, was introduced to the Freedom
Movement by Mama Hanifa and enthusiastically supports the program.
“It was an excellent idea to bring the school because we have many teachers and resources in the
church to support our children.”
The school began at the Shrine in 2016 and continues a long-standing mission to teach
community service and self-determination to young people.

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