Project Downtown puts faith into action

admin | 10/26/2011, 9:43 a.m.

Muslim youth feed South Florida homeless

For some people the thought of spending your free time on a Friday or Saturday afternoon to feed the homeless sounds like a colossal chore. However, for the Muslim students who volunteer for Project Downtown, feeding the homeless is not only a joyful activity but their duty. We are all related, we all share a basic fundamental identity with each other, which means we should all be trying to help each other and cooperate with each other to make this world a better place to live, said Adam Kabuka, a volunteer of Project Downtown Miami. Inspired by the one of the fiver pillars of Islam, Zakat, which means alms in Arabic, the first chapter of Project Downtown was started on the campus of the University of Miami in 2006. For five years, Kabuka, who graduated from the U of M in 2008, has been volunteering for Project Downtown. In the years since it was founded, the idea has continued to spread by the Muslim Students Association until there are now 12 official chapters. Each chapter has its own set time to hand out food or clothing. Project Downtown chapters tend to be organized by a few dedicated, consistently volunteers while attracting a wide range of volunteers for the weekly meal give aways. According to Kabuka, many of Miamis chapter volunteers are Muslim students from various background, including Asians, Arabs and Blacks. We get a lot of help from 20 to 30 people every week, Kabuka said. One of the volunteers is Omair Khan, a 28-year-old Muslim, who began serving for Project Downtown Miami five years ago. He currently volunteers for the Ft. Lauderdale Chapter of Project Downtown. He estimates that they serve an average of 80 people a day. Food is supplied by sponsors from the community with meals ranging from Indian cuisine to simple tuna sandwiches or spaghetti when sponsors are unavailable. Several weeks ago, volunteers from the Council on American-Islam Relations Florida (CAIR Florida), one of the largest Muslim advocacy and civil rights group in the U.S., joined their weekly efforts. It was anexperience ofhumility and compassion and I commend the student volunteers for continuing this service week after week;it is one of the best ways toportraywhat being a Muslim is all about, said Ghazala Salam, CAIR South Floridas community relations and service director. For more information, visit www.projectdowntown.com.