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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Activities & Organizations

United Muslim Relief begins new service chapter


Students joined United Muslim Relief co-founder Shafi Khan Friday at the chapter’s first meeting to talk about opportunities through which students can not only help the surrounding community, but people worldwide. | Photo courtesy of Amna Khan

The newly-formed UH chapter of the United Muslim Relief gave students the opportunity to be involved in the transformative process of serving others from start to finish in its first general student body meeting on Friday.

“This organization is literally the definition of hope I have been looking for,” said psychology freshman and UMR-UH webmaster Lara Hattab.

UMR volunteers have fed thousands of homeless people on the streets of the United States while simultaneously coping with the greatest challenges of international relief.

“In the end, the goal is to help those who need help,” said pre-business and broadcast journalism sophomore Mahnoor Samana, who heads public relations for UMR-UH.

The vice president of Programs and Emergencies and co-founder of UMR, Shafi Khan, spoke about the formation of the organization and how his experience in helping victims of the Haitian earthquake with a group of students from George Mason University became a life-changing experience and quickly turned into one of the largest grassroots organizations for American Muslims.

“The smell of death was so strong in Port-au-Prince at this moment, we knew what we had to do,” Khan said.

Serving on the UMR team — formerly Muslims without Borders — for three years, Khan said the hardest thing to do is to renew your intentions.

“We don’t want this to turn into a business,” Khan said.

UMR-UH will offer different events to help people in the Houston community as well as international development projects. One event in particular is Project Downtown, which will be held monthly and will focus on providing meals to people who are unable to access food.

“We will be giving people what could be their only meal for the day,” said biochemistry sophomore and secretary of UMR-UH Dania Albaba.

Although all the officers of the UMR-UH may not share the same major, views or ethnic backgrounds, they all share the same passion of helping humanity.

“Through this organization, I want to get the Muslim community mobilized and for the volunteers to feel the personal connection,” said nutrition major sophomore and vice president of UMR-UH  Komal Nathani.

The foundations of the chapter came from president Ahmad Asaad, a nutrition and pre-med junior who had the opportunity to serve as a videographer for a one-week project let by Kimiya International to end human sex trafficking in Cambodia.

“Making people smile — just that one instance can change someone,” Asaad said. “That experience boosted my potential to help people. Through UMR-UH, I want to drive down the street and be able to see Muslims helping people.”

Students hope the organization will allow students to share a passion of helping humanity and giving back to their community by allowing students to practice sincerity and will also serve as a sense of unity among the UH family.

“Development through service bears a message of changing lives at both ends: those who need our help and those who want to help others,” Asaad said.

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