Fareeha Amir is a Media Specialist at Islamic Relief USA.
I had my preconceptions about Detroit, as many others do: Detroit was a once great thriving city that’s rundown now and yearning for life again. But I found out quickly that the people who live in Detroit don’t feel that way about their city—it’s a place with a lot of potential and high spirits, citizens just need help from the rest of the United States to get where they want to be.
I was fortunate enough to be part of one such effort with Islamic Relief USA to present two checks to the Wayne Metro Community Council and the United Way of Southeastern Michigan respectively—$50,000 each for them to support the Detroit Water Fund to help families who are in need of clean water in the city. Even the Mayor of Detroit came!
I saw that this was one of many initiatives happening in Detroit to help bring the city back to life again through the collaboration of people in Detroit and around the United States with a common mission.
Our partners in Detroit are full of optimism and energy with the possibility of all the projects that can be done there. And they have so many projects they’ve already started.
But economic insecurity of its residents holds Detroit back. And lack of job opportunities keep locals unable to afford education, housing, food and other necessities. When an overwhelming number of Detroit residents became unable to pay their water bills, the city faced a huge problem—it couldn’t afford to continue to provide clean water to its citizens.
We live in America—it’s hard to imagine that clean water wouldn’t be available to any number of Americans as became the case with Detroit. Although local groups have done their best to work on economic problems like this one, Islamic Relief USA along with Michigan Muslim Community Council saw this as a clear opportunity to help and have a lot of impact for a large number of people.
Many people think of IRUSA as an international humanitarian aid organization. Many Muslim donors and volunteers don’t connect IRUSA with domestic work, even though every year, Islamic Relief USA funds domestic programs like in the one in Detroit to help our neighbors in need. Maybe it’s because we don’t think of the United States as a place with those kinds of needs. But the reality is that there are people dying of hunger and who face homelessness all over the U.S.— we just don’t open our eyes to the problems closest to us.
The situation in Detroit provided an opportunity for IRUSA to show all Americans that we care and that Muslims are working hard for a better America too.
This trip helped me visualize the impact Islamic Relief USA donors are able to have in the United States, the potential for development in Detroit and the way that IRUSA is bringing communities together to help fellow Americans. The people of Detroit have the capacity and willingness to do the work, they just need IRUSA donor support to continue that work. Working together, we can rebuild Detroit.