The Islamic Center at NYU and the Muslim Student Association have raised more than $880,000 in relief funds following an earthquake and flooding in Morocco and Libya last month.
On Sept. 8, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake killed thousands in Morocco, wreaking havoc in Marrakech and hard-to-access mountain villages south of the city. The collapse of mud-brick houses led to thousands of deaths and infrastructure devastation during the country’s largest earthquake in 120 years. Three days later, on Sept. 11, floods in eastern Libya left 4,000 dead and another 10,000 missing.
Since the disasters, NYU community members have been donating to humanitarian aid efforts in support of both countries, having raised around $655,000 for Morocco and $225,000 for Libya so far. The Muslim Student Association and the Islamic Center at NYU will continue to accept donations in the coming weeks.
First-year Aya Berri, a member of the Muslim Student Association, is a first-generation American of Moroccan descent. Berri said her grandmother and her extended family were in Marrakech at the time of the earthquake. Though her grandmother’s neighborhood withstood the damage, she had to spend a night on the street out of fear of potential collapse.
“When we heard the news, we all called her; she was all over the place,” Berri said. “Later in the day, she said that she had to leave the house and spend the night in the street because there was just the anxiety of what if it happens again, what if these buildings over here fall over.”
Khalid Latif, NYU’s chaplain and the executive director of the university’s Islamic Center, traveled to Morocco’s impacted areas on Sept. 10. Alongside the humanitarian nonprofit Human Appeal USA, Latif delivered emergency aid including water, food, blankets and medical care to those in need of immediate help. Latif said many families didn’t receive any support from governmental and relief agencies, and that his team was the first to talk to them in the aftermath of the earthquake.
“I met a man whose name is Hassan; he had come to visit this village in the Atlas Mountains, which was heavily impacted by the earthquake,” Latif said in an interview with WSN. “His intention for visiting was that his sister had just given birth to his newborn niece. That’s when the earthquake hit, and when he returned home just minutes later, the entire home had been demolished. His mother, his sister and newborn niece had all passed away in the earthquake.”
Latif documented firsthand accounts of the earthquake and shared videos on his Instagram account about both North African disasters, as well as in the Islamic Center’s newsletters. He hoped to raise awareness about the distress in Moroccan and Libyan communities and to showcase how the relief funds were being distributed.
To further promote the fundraising campaigns of the Islamic Center, the Muslim Student Association — along with Muslim sorority Mu Delta Alpha and the Black Muslim Initiative — set up a bake sale during the regular Friday prayer at the Islamic Center, a week after the devastating events. Yusuf Rashid, a senior and president of the association, said the group of 15 students raised around $2,000 in cash.
Rashid mentioned the influx of aid from the Student Government Assembly and Dean of Students Rafael Rodriguez. Rodriguez offered support to Moroccan and Libyan students affected on campus and gave the Muslim Student Association approval to host fundraising events at the Kimmel Center for University Life.
“The Islamic community in general throughout the world is very interconnected,” Rashid said. “When one part feels pain or going through some sort of hardship, we all usually come together collectively as a group and do our part, even if it’s just as small as a bake sale.”