COLUMBUS, Ohio Both MY Project USA Founder Zerqa Abid and Aden Mohamed say Ramadan is usually a very exciting time for Muslims, who spend 30 days united with family members, fasting and in quiet reflection.
While places of worship, along with Zerqa's Thrift Shop and warehouse are closed, the two are focused on feeding the vulnerable adults and children in the surrounding Hilltop and Wedgewood communities around Columbus.
- The largest Muslim social service organization in Ohio is reaching out to the community for help during the coronavirus pandemic.
- MY Project USA is looking to raise $100,000 to pay for rent, utilities and employee salaries
- The non-profit food pantry is currently serving nearly 300 families a week in Columbus’ west side
“It really is hitting us in the long run. Our future is in jeopardy right now,” said Abid.
Abid says the food pantry went from serving 120 families a week to nearly 300 in the weeks since the state shut down.
Social distancing rules mean there aren't as many volunteers on site and food is now pre-packaged and distributed at a drive thru rather than door-to-door.
While donations continue to pour in, Abid worries about the months ahead.
“This pandemic right away has hit on our projections of sustainers and being independent. I really don't know how we can survive after this pandemic, just in the next four or five months,” said Abid.
MY Project USA Community Coordinator Aden Mohamed grew up in the Wedgewood apartments on Columbus' west side. once known for drugs and prostitution.
While the area has seen a turn-around through the group's efforts, Mohamed says his family and friends are nervous about this new adversary in their community.
However, he is confident in his calling is to serve others.
“Being able to understand that pain and those struggles, and as I grow up to be a young adult, now that I have the ability and the time and health to do something to help out, it feels really rewarding,” said Mohamed.
Abid hopes to raise $100,000 dollars by June to help pay for rent, utilities, employee salaries and loans accumulated during the pandemic.
Despite the harsh reality of her situation and the health crisis we're all facing, Abid remains hopeful.
“I understand, being a Muslim, that this is part of our life. We have to keep moving forward, we have to keep making sure that one day at a time, that nobody goes hungry around, nobody is like homeless. If we can help each other and make sure that we are covering each other, i'm very hopeful in six months, seven months, that we will get out of it,” said Abid.
For more information on how you can donate, visit the MY Project USA website.