A group of young Muslims from Islamic Relief USA came from all over their country to the “traditionally red” state of North Carolina to be unofficial ambassadors of true Islam.
A team of Muslim rescue workers started working among people devastated by the floods in North Carolina caused by Hurricane Matthew. The group is breaking down the stereotypes perpetuated by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and showing that an entire group of people should not be typecast by the actions of a few.
Islamic Relief has existed for nearly 25 years now and its mission is to empower individuals in their communities and give them a voice in the world. They provide relief and development in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race, or religion.
Disaster response manager for Islamic Relief, Hani Hamwi says
I think there’s an image that gets painted in your head of who Muslims are. An American practicing Islam, it’s good for people to see that, hey, she’s a teacher or she’s a medical student and that they took a break to come down here.
The team deployed consisted of young Muslims in their 20s, working in various areas. The volunteers poured in from different states across America such as Oregon, Florida, and Texas. Many were on their first disaster relief trip and were shaken by the carnage they saw when they reached the town. The group quickly got in touch with the Red Cross workers who were already in the area and started distributing food, medicine and other supplies.
The group understands they are being looked at differently by people because the word ‘Islamic’ is associated with them. However, they are not afraid. The team believes by engaging in social services, they are helping in restoring the image of Islam that has been marred lately. Often deployed to more rural areas, where support of Trump is high, members of Islamic Relief say they have faced opposition from people on certain occasions simply because the people did not want Muslims there.
Reception was, however, more warm. The team members quickly clicked with some of the children. The team members are glad their presence in the state has in some ways contributed towards clearing up the misunderstandings the community has been facing.