Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) President Anwar Khan encouraged this year’s United Nations Alliance of Civilizations program fellows to continue making a difference in the world. He especially stressed the importance of valuing diversity and protecting people of other faiths, something IRUSA has long been committed to as part of its mission.
“It’s part of our work,” Khan said.
He emphasized how working with women and young children is instrumental to future success. Khan said when youngsters are not given enough attention or any productive activities, the chances increase of them of resorting to violent extremism. It’s important to “keep them busy, [otherwise] they will have time to do bad things,” Khan affirmed.
“We want to give young people hope,” he added. “Investing in youth is very important.”
The 2018 UNAOC Fellowship Program theme is “Fostering Youth Resilience to Prevent Violent Extremism and Build Sustainable Peace.” IRUSA has engaged in a number of programs throughout the years that help provide individuals access to enrichment activities that will help them stay off the streets, including one in Florida.
All 12 fellows are from countries in the Middle Eastern/North Africa (MENA) region and work on causes or entities that encourage youth to be more productive. The fellows hail from Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, and Palestine.
Khan said Islamic Relief USA has been successful in taking on a wide swath of livelihood and development projects, including providing solar power to poor communities and paying for cataracts operations in countries like Niger.
IRUSA has also been successful in cultivating a large base of volunteers, which now exceeds 10,000. Through its work, Khan said IRUSA wins over people’s hearts, adding that outreach is a reflection of “true Islam.”
Over the course of its history, Khan admitted the organization had received threats. However, the organization never wavered in its transparent commitment to humanitarianism and remains influential and effective 25 years since its founding.
“We’re not here to do the easy thing,” he said. “We’re here to do the right thing.”