Student group aims to help refugees

The Muslim Student Association at UH will help launch an awareness campaign Friday to raise funds to assist Iraqi and Somali refugees.

"We saw that there was a growing amount of refugees in the southwest area of Houston. It is our Islamic duty to help the poor and the people in need," political science senior Ahmad Bashar Alaswad said.

Along with the Society for Humanitarian and Refugee Relief Efforts and the Muslim American Society, the student group will host a fundraising banquet from 4 to 11 p.m. Friday at the Athletics/Alumni Center.

Using basic Islamic ideals as a foundation for their mission, MSA at UH provides a community for Muslim students to practice their religion and participate in charity work and humanitarian causes.

Money raised through the event will go toward the cost of rent, food, clothing and other basic needs of the refugees.

Industrial engineering senior Affaf Boketache said the refugees’ hardships were brought to light for her when she went to help impoverished Iraqi refugees and saw their poor conditions.

"They had food, but the food came in when the host said it would come in. Before they arrived to the U.S., they were promised better lives, such as $200 per month per person to pay for basic needs, but were instead only given these promises for only four months and then it stopped. It takes the average refugee much longer than four months, depending on their socioeconomic status," Boketache said.

MSA at UH is raising awareness because giving to the impoverished is part of the Five Pillars of Islam, members said.

"We have to help the needy. It is part of our religion. It is called Zakat, which is part of the Five Pillars of Islam," Boketache said.

Tickets to the fundraiser are $15 per student, $20 for general admission, $50 for a family of four and $75 for a group of five or more. The event is a business dress event. Jeans or khaki pants are not allowed.

For more information, call (281) 543-7137.

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