Two organizations on campus partnered together to participate in the second annual Charity Week to aid Islamic Relief of the USA in an effort to bring the Muslim community together in pride and support for those in Gaza.
On Oct. 29, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Dunya Association created a celebration of culture – organizing several fundraising events throughout the week, Sarah Jawadi said – ambassador for Charity Week with the Islamic Relief Fund.
All of the proceeds from this year focus on projects including education, relief aid for Syria and aid for children in the Middle East.
“All of the money is going to the children of the Middle East, but mostly for the Gazan’s that have been struggling,” Sheymah Thabata said –- a community volunteer and UNM alumni.
The Israel-Palestine Conflict has been on-going for several decades in Gaza. It began with the Balfour Declaration in 1917 which pushed for a Zionist agenda of creating a home for Jewish people in the already occupied Palestine. At this time, Palestine was made up of at least 90% Palestinian natives. Zionist forces attacked several Palestinian cities and villages in order to establish the State of Israel.
Palestine has been occupied by Israel since 1967 following the Naksa – a six day war between Israel and surrounding Arab countries where Israel seized the remaining Palestinian territories of Gaza, West Bank and Jerusalem.
On Oct. 7, Hamas – a terrorist group – carried out an attack on Israeli settlements, resulting in the death of 1,400 people. In response, the Israeli government has “carried out a campaign in Gaza in order to rescue Israeli citizens and terminate Hamas,” which has led to the death of over 8,000 Palestinians, according to the New York Times. Since the initial attack, Israel has bombed several Mosques, Hospitals and Schools in Gaza.
The World Health Organization released a statement that 2,326 women and 3,760 children – as of Nov. 3 – make up 67% of all Palestinian casualties.
“Charity Week is an organization with Islamic Relief, and their main mission is unity in addition to providing education, medical supplies and humanitarian aid to kids and underdeveloped countries,” Jawadi said.
Mutazz Jaber – Vice President of MSA and co-founder of Dunya – spoke about how the event allows for community to be built, and the unification goals MSA has for the upcoming year.
“People are able to showcase where they're from – showcase their culture. A lot of people feel underrepresented, and we felt that it was important to have an outlet for them (to share),” Mutazz Jaber said.
Cultural Night was their biggest event of the week, Jaber said. Traditional food, jewelry and dress from their respective cultures were showcased. The event highlighted several traditional dishes from attendees, including Iraqi Shariya, Pakistani Chicken Biryani and Syrian Falafel.
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“The mission for MSA is unifying muslims on campus, whether that be a graduate student on north campus or an undergraduate just starting their years as a Lobo,” Jaber said.
Jaber and Dunya member Saeed Assed also discussed involvement with Dunya and the various events they’ve had, including fundraising, volunteering and organizing Eid.
“Dunya Association is a non-profit organization geared around volunteer work, specifically for the youth community,” Assed said. “We’re here to better our community internally and better our community overall – as in New Mexico.”
These organizations planned and participated in these events in order to create a space for this celebration of cultures, while also fundraising.
“The Muslim community has come together in such tragic times with what is going on in Gaza right now. We’re here together to spread positivity and lend each other our hands and help,” Assed said.
Karina Bolaños is the Culture Editor at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at email@example.com