By Dina Malki
April 4, 2012 – Tribulations are surely a life reality, but it is the peoples’ reaction to such bad times and calamities that bring out the true value of our humanity and dignity. North Texans have a lot to be grateful for in the wake of the 15 devastating twisters that ripped through the area on Tuesday, miraculously without fatalities. Several tornadoes touched ground in Lancaster, Dallas, Arlington, and Forney smashing buildings, tossing tractor trailer trucks in the air, and forcing flying debris several miles away into cars, businesses, and homes.
Coincidentally, last weekend, a Richardson mosque (IANT) hosted a new disaster assistance training session where volunteers signed up to train in individual and group crisis intervention. The event is part of a year-round program by Islamic Relief USA that empowers local communities with tools and resources to help during disasters. The latest training session surely came in handy in a timely manner. “These team members are now using their skills to assist those affected by the most recent crisis event in Dallas,” said Asma Youssef, Public Affairs Representative, Islamic Relief USA. “Islamic Relief USA will ensure sheltering services are provided to the community along with assessing the communities hit by the outbreak of tronadoes in Texas.”
Islamic Relief has already deployed their disaster assistance teams in Texas, who are currently assisting the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with delivering aid to survivors. IR is also calling on for donations and prayers for North Texans. During the past 12 months, IR staff and volunteers have delivered emergency humanitarian relief for Alabama’s tornadoes and for Hurricane Irene’s victims in New Jersey. “Each opportunity has reinforced the training program that has certified over 250 individuals in various disciplines related to disaster relief,” Youssef added.
Another Muslim relief organization, ICNA relief USA, has ordered its volunteer teams, already wrapping up cleanup in Kentucky and Indiana in the aftermath of disasters three weeks ago, to head to the Dallas area. “ICNA Relief’s disaster services include mass feeding, medical assistance, sheltering, emotional and spiritual care, tree and debris removal, roof tarps and repair, and disaster case management.
Moreover, a local North Texas relief organization, Baitulmaal, has also begun mobilizing efforts to assist in the disaster that seriously damaged more than 350 businesses and 650 homes, forcing most of their residents to seek shelter. Baitulmaal is asking Muslims nationwide to donate for the tornado relief fund. They posted on their website a saying by Prophet Muhammad: “Narrated [by] Abdullah ibn Umar: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The best friend in the sight of Allah is he who is the well-wisher of his companions, and the best neighbour is one who behaves best towards his neighbours. Transmitted by Tirmidhi. – Al-Tirmidhi, Number 120.”
Compassion for community and public benefit are the engines that drive those individuals who commit to volunteer to assist their brothers and sisters in hardship. Each individual in our community counts; each act of kindness helps, and each piece of prayer to our North Texas neighbors eases their hardship.
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Photo Courtesy: Tim Sharp/REUTERS

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