Letter of Gratitude to USAID and the Honorable Mark Green

10 October 2019

Halil Demir
Executive Director
Zakat Foundation of America
7421 W 100th Place
Bridgeview IL 60455

Hon. Mark Green
Administrator, USAID
United States Agency for International Development
Ronald Reagan Building
Washington D.C. 20523-1000

Dear Mr. Green,

I am writing on behalf of the generous charitable givers in the Muslim American community and our humanitarian aid donors and recipients the world over to express our heartfelt thanks and admiration for USAID’s recent compassionate commitment to provide $127 million in assistance to a million destitute and despoiled Rohingya refugee families and children in Bangladesh, to the Rohingya people who remain beleaguered and tyrannized in Myanmar, and also to the impoverished of the local Bangladeshi communities that host these persecuted souls now living in utter squalor after being forced in the night from their homes by the Burmese onslaught of genocide. 

Your sincere, impassioned words from your travels to see for yourself the plight of the Rohingya of the refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and those still bent and cowering under unbearable oppression in Myanmar moved me deeply and touched the hearts of our entire community. 

You said: “I don’t know that I have seen a greater level of despair than in the eyes of Rohingya – young parents, near Sittwe in Burma, those who were left behind. I’ll never forget this: A young Rohingya father looked me in the eyes and said: ‘There are no teachers; my kids can’t go to school. We don’t have a mosque, so we can’t worship. I’m not allowed to leave without written permission, which I never get. And the only food I’ve got is what you give me. What do I tell my kids?’ 

“How do you respond?” you asked. 

As the United States’ top official for foreign aid, I believe, sir, you have found part of a most benevolent answer on behalf of our country and USAID in the caring assistance package you announced during this year’s U.N. General Assembly, which comes in addition to nearly $550 million the U.S. has provided Rohingya refugees – many of them women and children – since the latest massive atrocity against them two years ago. 

I want you to know, on behalf of Zakat Foundation and our donors, you are not alone in your genuine desire and striving to comfort and relieve the Rohingya. We have been diligently supplying relief to the Rohingya in Myanmar as well as the refugees in the camps of Cox’s Bazar since 2003, long before most people even knew of their dire situation, in the form of charitable food, clothing, shelter and bedding needs, household utensils, and hygiene necessities. 

Our donors and relief specialists have also answered the cry of the Rohingya here at home. We have followed up our country’s gracious admittance of Rohingya asylees by building the Rohingya Culture Center (RCC) in Chicago, which is home to the largest settlement of Rohingya refugees in America. Through RCC’s auspices, our contributors have assiduously assisted these exiled families to build homes and a thriving community, to get jobs, learn English and gainful trades and specialties, and to help their children at school, and at play with organized sports and other recreational and creative activities. 

From our hearts, then, Mr. Green, please know we at Zakat Foundation and our giving community, stand with you in both your commendable solicitousness and upright relief action for the Rohingya, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your personal and professional resolve to take up their cause of elemental human dignity and rights. 

Please accept my open invitation to meet with us and visit our community. I sincerely pray for your wellbeing and ask God to bless you and your colleagues at USAID with every goodness.


Halil Demir
Executive Director