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Plano, Texas, center for women offers oasis in midst of divorce

For most people, going through a divorce is an emotionally difficult time. Now imagine that you're going through a divorce while you're all alone in a strange country, with no close friends or other family nearby. That is the plight of many Muslim women throughout Texas who are attempting to end their marriages.

Since 2012, an organization in Plano, Texas, has been trying to help fill the cultural and religious gaps for hundreds of women by providing them with a safe familiar place throughout their divorces. Peaceful Oasis is a North Texas shelter that helps women by using a culturally specific approach to offer support. For example, they serve meals free of items considered forbidden in Islam. They also provide space for traditional Muslim prayers, which are done five times each day.

The center can house about 23 people at any given time, and although they are primarily a shelter, they also have two attorneys on staff to assist with immigration issues. Peaceful Oasis boats that they are able to communicate in 15 different languages, most of them regionally specific to Muslim countries.

One of the former residents says that the ability to discuss her personal problems in her native language was a huge relief. She says that Peaceful Oasis provided her a lifeline at a critical time of her life. Her husband had taken up with another woman, abandoning her without financial support for her and her five children.

Yet another former resident says that her divorce is now over, and she has moved on. She has since learned to drive, become a U.S. citizen and got a job working as a home health care provider.

People going through divorce need strong advocates on their side. Someone knowledgeable in the laws who will work to serve the best interests of them and their children.

Source: Dallas Morning News, "Shelter is a refuge and more to Muslim women" Mark Ramirez, Jun. 02, 2014

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