MICHIGAN – Muslim charities in Michigan have been racing time to offer bottles of water and assist ailing residents exposed to toxic water after President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in the region.
“The support from our constituents and the greater Muslim community has been tremendous,” Amad Elzayat, founder of Amity Foundation, a Dearborn-based non-profit Muslim organization, told Arab American News.
The group contributed its services on Martin Luther King Day, as a group of local residents gathered at Fordson High School and traveled to Flint to deliver water, water filters and replacement filters donated by business owners and anonymous residents.
The items were delivered to the Mission of Hope Church in Flint for distribution after revelation that Flint’s water pipeline had been contaminated with lead..
Elzayat said one of the organization’s mission statements is to help those in need, regardless of their race, skin color or religion.
The effort is not the first for the group, which has 200 volunteers.
In earlier efforts, the Amity Foundation has spearheaded several relief and goodwill efforts, such as providing and distributing meals, coats and Thanksgiving boxes and rehabbing homes for families in need.
Eleni Baidoun, a member of the organization added that their efforts in Flint fall in line with Dr. King’s legacy.
“Water is something we take for granted and clean water has been tragically denied to children in Flint,” Baidoun said.
“It’s our obligation and duty as Muslims to help those in need. We are proud to help and volunteer on MLK day. I cannot imagine a better way to honor Dr. King than in the service of those in need.”
Other Muslim organizations have also been delivering bottled water to the region, estimated by 110,000 bottles of water.
The organizations include Life for Relief and Development, Who is Hussain? and the Kalamazoo Muslim Community.
Another 90,000 bottles of water are expected to arrive over the next week from Islamic Relief USA and the Pakistan Women’s Association.
Offering help to those in need, Muslim groups stressed that their efforts were driven by their faith which placed water as among its highest form of charity.
“The work is urgently needed in light of the slow reaction by state and local officials to deliver critical clean water resources to a community already devastated by poverty, crime and blight,” the Royal Oak-based Michigan Muslim Community Council said in a press release.
The Arab American Civil Rights League (ACRL) and community leader Chaker Aoun, founder and CEO of Garden Food Distributor, Inc., also organized a joint effort to send bottled water to a high school and senior citizens’ center in Flint.
ACRL Field Director Samia Sareini arranged water delivery to Northwestern High School directly and the Slidell Senior Residence facility.
“The senior citizens felt that the government turned their back on them,” she said.
“They aren’t receiving help from anybody. Some of them are confined to their apartments. They can’t even go anywhere to pick up water.”