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Friday, June 25, 2010

Islamic Relief USA: What Matters Most are Those in Need

With any job, even if you are passionate about it and love it, there are moments when we need extra motivation to perform the very best that we can. And especially when you work for a relief and development agency like Islamic Relief USA, those reminders of who your true "employers" are can be humbling and welcoming at the same time.

I’ve been with this organization for nearly four months now in an editorial capacity. I know that my employers are not just the CEO, or even the Board of Directors. The employers who matter most are the people we are trying to help: those in need, those who go without basic necessities of life, those who suffer during emergencies and crisis.

But knowing that, I still need to be reminded. At our weekly office staff meeting, Belkacem Nahi, IR USA's Development Coordinator, briefed the staff on what he saw during his recent travels with our CEO Abed Ayoub and the IR USA team in Ghana and Mali. The stories he told brought tears to my eyes. He related how he spoke with a mother in Mali, who has eight members in her family. He asked her how she fed the family. She replied that four people ate at lunch, and four people ate at dinner – and it was a very spare meal.

Anwar Khan, IR USA’s Vice President of Fund Development who has traveled extensively in the field, said, "One in four children in Mali die before their 5th birthday. It is one of the worst human development situations in the world." He added, "Every time you go into the field, you carry some of that pain back with you, and you come back determined to do more for these people."

Khan said that it was the job of IR USA to "give [those we are helping], at the very least, the minimum of help. And no matter how much we think we are doing," he said, “we can do more than that.”

"The war [in African countries] is against starvation and disease," he said. "And the best we can give them is our unlimited help and our love."

At the same meeting, Karim Amin, IR USA's Domestic Programs Coordinator, and Seyed Mowlana, IR USA's IT Systems Engineer, spoke about their experiences at the annual Day of Dignity event at the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota last weekend. Mowlana said it was an experience he would never forget: "This is one of the forgotten places," he said. "I saw Native Americans living in the most broken-down places, having contaminated water to drink – water that wouldn’t even be safe if boiled. This is in our own country."

Their day spent at the reservation was a hard, but uplifting one, Amin said. Those on the reservation were happy to see them, and the IR USA team of volunteers was able to distribute food and medical kits to hundreds of people.

I've come to learn in my time with IR USA that the need out there is very, very great indeed. There are many people who need help, who need sponsorship, who need healthcare, who need education. It motivated me to do my job well, and to get the word out. Your help is needed always. Your donations are needed. Your volunteer time is needed. To donate, please click here.
--Dilshad D. Ali
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