Voice from the United States
Ameena Matthews has been with CeaseFire for three-and-a-half years as a Senior Violence Interrupter. The mother of four children – two who are grown and two who are ages 12 and 9 – she is married to Abdur Rasheed Matthews, who is the Iman at the Al Haqqani Mosque & Community Center. Ameena, who grew up in Englewood on the city’s South Side, is the daughter of Jeff Fort, one of the city’s most infamous gang leaders. In the 1960s, the El Rukns, which were under Fort’s leadership, were seen by some as a catalyst for positive growth in their neighborhoods. Fort is now serving time in prison for drug trafficking and terrorism charges; he was alleged to have conspired to commit terrorist acts on behalf of Libya in exchange for money. Ameena credits her family and her early life experiences with her desire to educate and effect change in the neighborhoods that she calls home.