This story was originally published in Nep Journal.
By Mbarak Abucher
Zakat Foundation of America has pledged to extend its financial support towards Islamic projects in Kenya to supplement the efforts by the local Muslim community for social economic development.
Kemal Ali Berru, the Programmes Director of Zakat Foundation of America, a Chicago-based Islamic charitable organization said the Foundation was determined to support vulnerable communities in every sphere to improve on their livelihood.
He was speaking in Bungoma County at Posta grounds over the weekend marking the 6 years of service to humanity in Kenya.
The celebrations were preceded by a huge procession through Bungoma town which brought business to a standstill for almost an hour.
In his speech, Mr. Kemal noted that he had spent the last one week touring Zakat Foundation of AmericaA funded projects saying the Foundation was impressed with the determination and interest being shown by the communities in Western region and by extension Kenya.
He added that Zakat Foundation of America will continue supporting various projects and programmes to transform and improve the living conditions of the people of Kenya.
At the same time Kemal revealed that following the good work done by IYCO, Zakat Foundation of America is likely to open a Kenya chapter’s office to serve the local communities effectively and ensure successful implementation of projects.
Kemal disclosed that the Foundation, through the Bungoma based IYCO will extend support to 100 orphans up from the present 70 orphans who are being supported to cater for their welfare and needs as it is the motto of the foundation to serve humanity irrespective of their religious affiliations as a means to promote interfaith dialogues and peaceful coexistence among people of various faiths for social economic development.
”Zakat Foundation of America will continue bringing immediate relief during and after disasters, building and supporting schools, orphanages and health clinics, supporting community development programs and micro-credit, providing Ramadan Iftars and food distribution, and providing fresh meat for Udhiya/Qurbani and Aqeeqah through the support of community-based initiatives, said Kemal.
He further stated that Zakat Foundation has distinguished itself from a traditional US-based Muslim charity approach of exclusively supporting communities abroad and reaches poor and indigenous communities within the United States as well adding that since its establishment, Zakat Foundation of America has progressed from mostly offering immediate emergency aid and Seasonal Programs to a focus on severing the roots of poverty, utilizing Zakat and Sadaqa donations to develop long-term, sustainable solutions.
Kemal expressed gratitude to all partners, especially the Bungoma based Islamic Youth Community Organization (IYCO), under the leadership of Muhammad Wangusi and sister Aziza Kipsang for their collaboration to ensure the delivery of the projects.
Mohammad Wangusi, the Zakat Foundation of America Country Representative, disclosed that the organization in partnership with IYCO is currently implementing water projects in various villages in Western region, where it had set up water wells and installation of hand pumps to help local communities have safe water and farmers to process the crop to earn a living.
Wangusi who is also the Islamic Youth Community Organization Coordinator noted that IYCO will continue working closely with Zakat Foundation of America for the benefit of the local community.
In his remarks the Western regional Chairman Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) Sheikh Abdi Swaleh Wafula commended the Zakat Foundation of America for its services and projects that had contributed to social economic development of the local Muslim community and called on other Islamic organizations to emulate the same for prosperity.
On his part Kassim Werunga appealed to the Zakat Foundation of America to consider setting up rehabilitation centre in the county to cater for the needs and welfare of street and vulnerable children who have increased in number in the region to improve on their livelihood.
During the tour Kemal visited some of the projects that were undertaken by the foundation in Kenya in partnership with IYCO in Bungoma and Kakamega counties respectively which include Water Wells, Food and Nutrition, health, Mosques, Livestock, orphan sponsorship and Emergency Relief Aid.
Local partners that collaborate with Zakat Foundation of America are Islamic Youth Community Organization (IYCO) from Bungoma,North Eastern Youth for Development a non-profit organization based in Garissa and Heshima Kenya Organization based in Nairobi.