"If I died today, what legacy will I leave for my daughters?” That is the question that would change how Al-amin Muhammad, formerly Joel Buissereth, lived his life. This is a story of how a man set down the wrong path at a young age went from being a convicted felon and a gang member, to being one of the most celebrated local heroes in Syracuse, NY.

Al-amin Muhammad was born to hard working Haitian immigrant parents who moved to Chicago when Al-amin was 5. They raised him to work hard and to be independent. As he grew older, things began to take a turn for Al-amin when around the age of 12 his parents separated. As a result of the divorce, he began to lose the sense of love and bond his family once had. After this loss, he then got into the wrong crowd of people and eventually became a leader of one of the biggest gangs in Chicago.

Throughout that time with the gang Al-amin ended up in prison for various charges with drugs and weapons. While in prison people did not want to mess with him due to status in such a prestigious gang. People worshipped him in prison and he took this to heart. Being a leader of a gang in Chicago came with a ton of difficulties as Al-amin witnessed people get shot and killed in front of him. He also crossed paths with people that he had shot in prison. This was never easy for him, but his mother always stuck by him. She visited him while he was in prison and tried her best to support him, while his father believed what his son was doing was wrong and did not visit him.  As he was in and out of prison, Al-amin continued to engage in illegal activity as it was difficult to get away from the life he had become accustomed to.

 

After arriving in Atlanta, Al-amin began staying in a hotel and got a job working at a warehouse. His good fortune, however, was short lived. Only a year after getting the job at the warehouse, the company closed its doors, and Al-amin was laid off. He soon no longer had the money to keep paying the rent at the hotel and was forced to move in with his friend Andre, who had begun to sell drugs when he moved to Atlanta. With no source of reliable income, Al-amin fell back into his old ways and began selling drugs with Andre.    

 

As it goes with most drug dealers, Al-amin was soon arrested and thrown back in jail. It was during this time in prison that Al-amin had a serious change of heart. Through his friends in jail, Al-amin was converted to Islam, and learned the ways of the prophet Muhammed. He decided that he wanted to leave a legacy for his daughters, and not one of drug deals and prison time.

After his short stint in jail, Al-amin was back out on the streets and ready to make a positive change in his life. This did not come easily though, and soon Al-amin found himself broke and homeless but refused to return to his life of crime. After a long stretch of sleeping under bridges and scavenging for food, Al-amin was picked up by a social worker. The social worker took him in and enrolled him in a rehabilitation program to help get his life back together. Soon after being picked up, Al-amin was working toward his GED and looking to become certified to run a non-profit organization. He became a licensed therapist and began to practice drug and alcohol counseling, looking to make an impact by supporting those in need.

 

Al-amin Muhammad's story is one of struggle and mistakes, and also one of overcoming adversity and success. He faced struggles with his family at a young age, which set him down a dark and treacherous path. It was down this path that he faced atrocities such as numerous murders and being shot himself. Eventually, this life led Al-amin to spend a lot of time going in and out of prison. His life was going nowhere, and it seemed like there was no way out.  Change was necessary, and it was coming.

 

People find the reason and the strength to change in many different ways. For Al-amin Muhammad his reason to change was always for his daughter. However, it wasn’t until he found Islam that he was able to find the strength and the courage to change.

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People find the reason and the strength to change in many different ways. For Al-amin Muhammad his reason to change was always for his daughter. However, it wasn’t until he found Islam that he was able to find the strength and the courage to change.

Al-amin originally came to Syracuse in 2015 to visit a friend. He had every intention of heading back to Atlanta where he could start a non-profit to further his newfound passion of bettering others. However, after spending some time in the CNY area, Al-amin recognized a community in need of help. Attributing his decision to the combination of community and diversity that he found so special to the city, he decided to stay and begin his work in Syracuse.

 

He began to build an organization called We Rise Above the Streets to fight the problem of homelessness within the city. This outreach program thrives on Al-amin’s desire to help those in need as well as his relatability to the individuals that he interacts with almost daily. Although his organization has positively impacted the homeless community in Syracuse, success for WRATS was not something that came easily. Al-amin was funding his efforts out of pocket for the entirety of the first year before receiving adequate support. He began to wonder if he should keep moving forward with the organization, but it always led him back to reflecting on his own experiences and personal struggles.

     

Today, We Rise Above the Streets is expanding its outreach to the community of Syracuse. Al-amin has been working diligently to continue events such as Sandwich Saturdays and public speaking appearances. However, he does not intend to stop here. With your help and support, Al-amin could one day transform We Rise Above the Streets into a full-time service with self-sufficiency classes and job opportunity classes. He is ultimately striving towards having his own standalone building to expand the benefits offered by his organization.

    In order to find out more about the organization, donate, or support We Rise Above the Streets in any way you can please visit IfWeEatTheyEat.org.