Advocates provide food relief to local mosques
by Benjamin Fang
May 06, 2020 | 785 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In early April, a group of Queens advocates and political staffers launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help hungry neighbors during the month of Ramadan.

Mufazzal Hossain, vice president of diversity and outreach for the Queens County Young Democrats, teamed up with his siblings Tasnia Hossain and Hossain Muhaymin to start the fundraiser.

They were joined by Jamie Kazi, legislator director for Assemblyman David Weprin, and Muhammad Rahman, the lawmaker’s deputy chief of staff.

By April 23, the start of Ramadan, the group raised more than $2,800 to buy rice, onions, chickpeas, dates, lentils and other food items to donate to local mosques to distribute. On April 26, they dropped off their donations at several sites in the borough.

“Every time there’s a budget cut, Queens is among the hardest hit counties, and it’s people from the low-income communities and communities of color that are the ones who face the loss of it,” Hossain said. “Seeing that, my siblings and I could not not just sit idly by.”

Kazi said Ramadan is a special time for Muslims, during which they fast from sunrise to sundown. Queens has one of the largest Muslim populations in the state, he noted.

“Unfortunately, many Muslims around the world have fallen into such financially vulnerable positions that they’re struggling to buy food to break their fast with,” he said. “I couldn’t see the community that raised me to go through such hardships, so we wanted to take actions into our own hands.”

“As we continue to face uncertainty in these trying times,” Rahman added, “helping those that are less fortunate is what Ramadan is about.”

The group kicked off the day by dropping off food at Fultoli Jame Masjid in Ozone Park. They were joined by Community Board 9 chair Kenichi Wilson and Joseph Caruana, president of Our Neighbor Civic Association.

The next stop was Jamaica Muslim Center, where they got in touch with Monjur Chowdhury, the general secretary of the mosque. Chowdhury said he will keep the mosque’s doors open for donations.

Assemblyman Weprin also helped the relief organizers drop off and distribute food.

“Unfortunately the economic impacts of COVID-19 have left many Muslims in a financially vulnerable position, and thus buying food to break their fast has become a real struggle for many,” Weprin said in a statement.

Other stops included Reyazul Jannah Islamic Center in Jamaica, where they met with Mohammad Ali, chair of Community Board 12 and general secretary of the Bangladeshi American Society.

In Jackson Heights, the organizers dropped off food with local community activists Dawn Siff and Nuala O’Doherty. Their final stop was Masjid Fatima in Woodside, where community leader Shahriar Rahman received the items.

The organizers noted that Kawran Bazar, a minority-owned small business in Jamaica, provided all of the food items at wholesale rates. The store also provided some items for free.

“This is a charity,” the business’s spokesperson said, “and the community needs it while they fast in Ramadan during these tough times.”
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