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Sunday, May 11, 9:39 a.m.
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Muslim Student Association raises more than $5,700 to alleviate suffering in Somalia

The University of Maine Muslim Student Association raised more than $5,700 during Project Somalia, a month-long effort to help alleviate suffering that stems from the food crisis in Somalia through the Humanitarian African Relief Organization.

Though Somalia has faced severe drought and food shortages for years, the United Nations declared in February that the famine first recognised in July 2011 had ended.

A $25 contribution would provide a month’s worth of clean drinking water for one person, according to Bahir Hassan, executive director of HARO. The MSA’s donation will also help pay for food and shelter, but if the entire donation were to be spent on water, clean water could be provided to 19 people for one year.

“This is just considering water as an example project,” MSA secretary Hina Hashmi said. “The money may be distributed between other HARO projects in Somalia such as installing tents or bathrooms at the relief camps, providing basic foods, aiding the orphans or Medical Mobile teams near Mogadishu.”

Through its fundraising efforts, the MSA collected enough money to provide various services for approximately 235 families.

Two events were held to raise money for the effort. The first was a potluck dinner at the Islamic Center of Maine in Orono, which raised more than $4,000, the group’s original goal.

The second was an event in Neville Hall that featured readings from the book “Somalis in Maine: Crossing Cultural Currents,” edited by UMaine professors Kristin Langellier, Carol Nordstrom Toner, Mazie Hough and Kimberly Huisman.

“The readings were passages from interviews with Somali residents in Maine, some of which attend or have recently graduated from our university,” Hashmi said.

Project Somalia was a collaboration between the MSA and Portland-based Islamic Youth of America Today. Through the efforts of IYAT, another $1,047 was raised, enough to provide support for an additional 50 families.

“They fundraised vigorously as well and also held a fundraising dinner event, themed ‘Tears for Hope,’” Hashmi said.

The MSA will continue its fundraising efforts into March. This will assure that “people who still would like to donate during the Islamic Awareness Week hosted by the UMaine MSA can do so,” Hashmi said.

The group plans to send funds to HARO toward March’s end.