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Middle Eastern immigrant using love of Rockford to connect community

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Mustafa Abdall moved to Rockford via Baghdad 12 years ago.

When he arrived to the Forest City, he saw a big community will little involvement within itself.

"I believe in communication and I started my journey by breaking down the walls," Abdall said.

Abdall didn't know anybody when he first got to Rockford, but within months he was able create thousands of friends.

People he now calls brothers and sisters.

The journey to creating these connections began through education.

For the majority of his time here, Abdall has worked with RPS 205, currently as the instructor of the Newcomers Bilingual Program at Lincoln Middle School.

However, teacher is just one of many hats Abdall wears on a daily basis.

"From 8:45 a.m.-4 p.m. I am an RPS teacher and then from 4 p.m.-4 a.m. I am a community volunteer," Abdall said.

Abdall keeps himself on call nearly around the clock for anyone in the community who may need help.

He runs Winnebago Emerging Small Business Assistance, which works with immigrant and minority small business owners to develop their business through the proper city channels.

Much of Adball's time is also spent volunteering with the United Way.

He spends many of his afternoons at the Strong Neighborhoods House, which he affectionately calls the "welcome center."

To top it all off, he dedicates even more time to immigrant youth outside of the classroom through the Rockford Park District, coaching soccer and basketball.

"Really I am honored to have the trust of my community and working with them," Abdall said.

"I love Rockford. It's a friendly, safe environment."

Abdall's sentiment for the Forest City is echoed back to him by other immigrants who come to town from other parts of the U.S.

It all stems from one central message from Abdall.

We need to communicate.

"Communication is the magical solution to solve any problem," Abdall said.

"Yes we have problems here, but to solve problems we need to sit together and communicate. I feel the walls and barriers I have broken I did with communication."

"Let's start a positive ourselves by learning to communicate and I am sure you will find a solution."

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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