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Islamic, Mormon Groups Unite For African Relief

Islamic, Mormon Groups Unite For African Relief

NBC 4 News

June 2, 2006

LOS ANGELES — More than 10 million people living in the Horn of Africa are facing a severe food shortage and even starvation. Among those working to help the people of Kenya, Ethiopia and Malawi are two unlikely allies. One of them is based in Burbank. NBC4′s Kelly Mack has more.

Following is a verbatim script from the on-air report.

Kelly Mack: A dozen workers are packed into the offices of Islamic Relief in Burbank. The international relief and development organization is busy preparing for an important fundraising drive aimed at bringing food and water to the millions of people suffering through a three year drought in the Horn of Africa.

Shamiq Hussain, Islamic Relief: “We draw upon the imperative of Islam to help the other, to help those in need, to propel us to always keep focused on the goal of helping people.”

Mack: Islamic Relief, which has been in existence since 1984, has partnered with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to provide supplemental food to starving Africans. The Mormon Church manufactures the easily digestible grain mix and Islamic Relief gets it to the people on the ground.

Hussain: “We deal purely with the humanitarian impulse … and really that’s spread across religious lines, you know, across ethnic lines, any kind of barriers you can think of.”

Mack: The video and photos from the Horn of Africa were taken by Shamiq Hussain, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley. He tells us his world view has changed since visiting Africa.

Hussain: “You get to a place where they don’t have water. It’s just such a fundamental necessity … and they just, they don’t have it. It’s amazing to experience that, and to experience how people cope with that.”

Mack: Islamic Relief is beginning a major fundraising drive … targeting $1.2 million dollars to provide emergency food and water for the starving populations. And unlike many charitable organizations recently, Islamic Relief has been enjoying INCREASING donations. Hussein: “They’ll see the work that we do, and it really captures their hearts … and I think that’s what keeps them consistently giving to us.”

Mack: There is certainly a political element to the problems affecting these African nations. But politics, according to the volunteers of Islamic Relief, are irrelevant in the face of such suffering.

Hussain: “I think that’s what our organization and other organizations that we work with that are not Islamic organizations. That’s where we find our common ground and that’s where we focus.”