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Houstonian Corner (V10-I44)

Needs Are Increasing For Galvestonians: Saad Ansari of ICNA Relief

Reports from Hurricane IKE Recuperation Center at 921 Broadway few blocks away from seawall Galveston suggest that needs of Galvestonians have increased by 15%. “For the past two and half weeks, we have been helping about 500 persons everyday with Meals Ready To Eat (MREs); Hot Meals; Water; Ice; Cleaning Amenities; and so on. Many of them have got health, human and social services under the tents installed in the Galveston Islamic Center (GIC). After steady 500 persons per day, suddenly yesterday we served more than 600 people,” informed Saad Ansari, Coordinator for the Islamic Circle of North America Relief (ICNA Relief) IKE Recuperation Project.  

This IKE Recuperation Center was established by ICNA Relief on September 27th, 2008 at the Galveston Islamic Center (GIC) and the lot in front of GIC. “By the Blessings of God and due to the sincere efforts of our Point of Distribution (POD) Center, one of the leading grocery stores located close to GIC, has emptied their groceries and other necessary items shelves and donated them to us. Due to the Grace of Allah and the earnest work done by all of our volunteers, our work is now recognized by leading agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Red Cross and so on. As a result of this, FEMA has given us several yards of the Blue Tarp to cover peoples’ homes damaged roofs, as rainy season is returning. All this means our task is becoming more monumental and we expect the coming Saturdays will be extremely busy,” added Saad Ansari.

Operating hours are 12:30pm.-4:30pm. Mondays to Saturdays with Sunday off. Call 281-282-7010 to volunteer. Some individual cases, asking for monitory aid, have been received. Like one single Muslim Sister called, who is taking care of her young daughter and where her initial FEMA assistance application has been rejected on technical grounds. She has lost her job. Earlier ICNA Relief had already given cash as initial help to a few persons, who lost their jobs due to IKE. A group of students need School Supplies, Uniform and Shoes. Several needs will continue to appear as we work towards long-term rehabilitation.

Governmental Agencies will help, but much help will be needed from private sector and common people. As such Saad Assari has encouraged everyone to generously contribute by mailing their tax deductible checks to: ICNA Relief – P.O. Box 572181 – Houston – Texas 77257. “You can also donate on-line at www.ICNARelief.Org,” appealed Saad Ansari.

“Based on the experience from Katrina and Gustav, by the Grace of God, ICNA Relief has made a positive difference in the lives of many, suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane IKE,” said Ayub Badat, ICNA National Coordinator.  He explained in details how this work has shaped over a period of about one month:

“At the eve of Hurricane IKE, ICNA Relief came with this vision to start the IKE rehabilitation work and started off with the initial emergency stage by establishing three temporary shelters at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston Masajids, where Electric Generators, Hot Meals (Sahur and Iftar), Water and Ice were given for three days. Electric Generator was also given to ISGH Mission Bend Masjid, since it got flooded, had no electricity and two Isha & Taraweeh Prayers were missed. More than 500 people were served for three days.

After this in collaboration with other community organizations, ICNA Relief Volunteers provided Hot Meals at a couple of Apartment Complexes and Eid Food Gift Boxes to hundreds of Muslims.

Considering the needs of short-&-long term rehabilitation work, ICNA Relief started the move towards the direct hit area of Galveston by first establishing an Assistance Location near Galveston in the City of Webster in what is called the American Society of Islamic Awareness (ASIA) Center. After a weeks’ operation at ASIA Center, ICNA Relief systematically moved the operations, when close contacts were made with the Galveston Islamic Center (GIC).

Despite huge damages suffered by GIC due to flooding, their administration under Dr. Ahmed E. Ahmed welcomed us and cleaned a room for all the supplies brought by ICNA Relief. They also made available in the lot in front of GIC, where ICNA Relief established the Point of Distribution (POD) or the IKE Recuperation Center.

Initial planning help came for this in the form of Sister Jane Aslam and her husband traveling from Baton Rouge with Meals ready To Eat (MREs). Using her contacts with several Governmental Agencies, Sister Jane was able to connect ICNA Relief IKE Recuperation Center with the Emergency Assistance Apparatus in Galveston.

ICNA Relief was able to involve other organizations in this effort like LIFE For Relief and Development and Helping Hand (USA) For Relief & Development. On knowing about this work, grassroots level organizations like the Gleanings For Harvest of Galveston (their aim is “Because No One Should Go Hungry”) and the Houston Food Bank (their motto is “Filling Pantries – Filing Lives”) came forward to start to provide the necessities, so as to be distributed under the leadership of ICNA Relief.

The Houston Food Bank (HFB) people were happy to know that after this experience, ICNA Relief has planned to form a Pantry in the Greater Houston Region is considering and HFB will be filling up that Pantry.

We are Ummah of Mercy Unto Mankind Messenger Muhammad (May Allah SWT’s Peace and Blessings Be Upon him) and the rehabilitation work done by the Muslim Communities during Katrina, Gustav and IKE is a testimony of that. ICNA Relief feels most blessed having played the leading role. Relief Work is Immediate-Short-&-Long Term: It needs Benevolent Volunteers, who have come forward together giving hundreds and thousands hours of community service to Please God via Humanitarian Work. We need more volunteers.

Also at one stretch are not able to put many hours. To make these efforts most effective, there is definitely need to have dedicated, trained, full-time and paid staff. All the Affluent people and other members of the community need to monetarily assist us at ICNA Relief, as not only the people in the society around us have bigger expectations from us, but Allah SWT and His Messenger has encouraged the Muslims to improve every next day and enhance the societies in which they live in”, said Ayub Badat.

“Your generous tax deductible checks can be mailed to: ICNA Relief – P.O. Box 572181 – Houston – Texas 77257. You can donate on-line at www.ICNARelief.Org,” added Ayub Badat.


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