AUSTIN (KXAN) – Reza Aghili is a member of the Islamic Ahlul Bayt Association Mosque in northwest Austin. He said oftentimes when there is a disaster nearby or overseas, the mosque organizes fundraisers to send money for aid.
“You know there is a very beautiful Persian poem,” he said. “It says if in your body, one limb is hurting, then the rest of it is hurting too.”
“It is the same way. People are people. It doesn’t matter where the disaster is – it’s sad, and we try to do the little bit that we can to help them out,” Aghili said.
Saturday, Aghili and the mosque hosted a fundraiser for the devastating earthquake that struck a border region of Turkey and Syria five days ago. The death toll has already surpassed 25,000 people, and 80,000 people have been reported injured. Millions have been left homeless.
“We do small fundraisings like this just to help out locally and internationally whenever you know these disasters happen,” Aghili said. “[They’re] usually not significant, but every little bit helps. If we can raise a couple of thousand dollars, that is what we do.”
Among the middle eastern bread and cookies offered at the fundraiser was chai tea from Austin Chai Wala, an Austin-based food truck that is known for its tea. The business has donated products to mosques putting on fundraisers to help people affected by the natural disaster.
“We’re not just a business; We are not just about our product here,” said Usama Malik, a spokesperson for Austin Chai Wala. “We also want to be able to benefit the community. We also want to be able to benefit the initiatives that are out there.”
Austin Chai Wala is a Muslim-owned business. Malik said the fact that so many of his Muslim brothers and sisters are affected strikes a chord.
“We have this inherent tie as part of the Muslim belief of the ummah, or community, to really be able to step up for parts of the ummah that might be affected or might be in need when other parts are able to help,” Malik said. “We are most happy to always get involved in any cause that is to benefit not just people in disaster relief, but anything that the community needs to be supported.”