We could all do with being reminded that there is still good in the world despite what’s going in our own lives. One stunning reminder of humanity is shown in Islamic Relief USA, a relief organization made up of humanitarians, volunteers, donors, supporters, partners, and affiliates, who have been working together to create a better world for nearly 25 years. Their relief programs have been across the world, from Flint, Michigan to Somalia. I recently spoke with Mayssoun Olabi of IRUSA to ask her a few questions.
1)What type of work does Islamic Relief USA focus on?
Islamic Relief USA’s mission is to provide relief and development in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race or religion, and works to empower individuals in their communities and give them a voice in the world.
The Islamic Relief family organizations have been engaged in relief projects for more than a quarter of a century and can now be found in more than 40 countries in throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.
IRUSA provides emergency disaster relief when it is needed, and spearheads development projects in multiple sectors, including education, income generation, orphan support, health and nutrition, and water and sanitation. IRUSA directly supports international projects in these sectors in nearly 30 countries around the world.
IRUSA is headquartered just outside of Washington, D.C., in Alexandria, Va, and maintains regional offices in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Florida, and Texas.
2)What are some things IRUSA has done recently?
IRUSA has just completed its “Day of Dignity” events, which were held this year in 18 cities around the USA. The Day of Dignity, which is a flagship nationwide Islamic Relief USA initiative that aims to empower communities to come together to bring awareness, provide resources, deliver services, and build community around the issues of hunger and homelessness.
Islamic Relief USA has partnered with local organizations across the United States for over a decade to host the annual Day of Dignity event. Day of Dignity creates an opportunity for caring individuals from diverse communities to provide services to their neighbors in need. Food, clothing, 1st aid kits, and hygiene kits are just some of the items distributed during Day of Dignity events. And, often, free medical care, screenings and even barber services are provided. It’s a day to come together and work together for a better world. The food and services are available to anyone in need, regardless of faith.
3)What is IRUSA’s reaction to the recent refugee controversy?
Islamic Relief USA its latest statement denounced President Trump’s Executive Order—“Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals,” which halts the U.S. refugee resettlement program and temporarily bans entry into the United States by citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, including green card holders and those with dual citizenship.
As a humanitarian organization whose mission is to provide relief and development in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race or religion, and to work to empower individuals in their communities and give them a voice in the world, Islamic Relief USA condemns the actions mandated by the Executive Order as discriminatory and harmful.
Helping refugees is a moral responsibility shared widely among both faith and non-faith communities. IRUSA considers the denial of refuge to some of the world’s most vulnerable people who have already fled violence, religious persecution, and ideological persecution to completely contradict the United States’ values of welcoming refugees from around the world and protecting the freedom of everyone to worship and speak freely.
As an American organization informed by Muslim values, we urge the United States, its leaders and its citizens to contribute towards the wellbeing of their fellow Americans and to provide help to their neighbors in need regardless of their race, religion or gender. The power of love, mercy and compassion has always proven to be a vital component of our communities and the work we do to make America and the world a better place.
4)What does the IRUSA hope to achieve during 2017?
We at IRUSA aspire to continue serving those in need wherever they are. We are hoping to strategically expand our programs to encompass a larger number of people, who are in need of humanitarian assistance on both national and international levels. We hope that through our work we can show the world that love and compassion are values that will always trump those of hatred and fear.
Also, we would like to continue our work with the young people in the U.S., as we are looking into increasing our youth platforms in service projects, volunteerism and advocacy.
Those wishing to donate to IRUSA can do so here. Muslims wishing to donate for their zakat and fidya/kaffara obligations can do so, while being reassured that their contributions will be distributed to people who truly need help, and in accordance with Islamic principles.