The Islamic Association of Raleigh (IAR) is blessed to have a kitchen/restaurant facility which serves the entire community on different occasions. There is also the community’s school garden that is taken care of and well-groomed by the students, parents, teachers and staff of Al Iman School, which is one of the schools situated in the IAR complex. There is the weekly Friday sale of fruits and vegetables to its members. The IAR has a multi-purpose gymnasium that serves a few purposes such as basketball for the youth and adult males, basketball for the youth girls, karate practices, as well as social gatherings like weddings, birth ceremonies, and Ramadhan get-togethers.
The IAR has 18 standing committees and one of them is the Social and Welfare Committee. This committee collaborates with other committees to provide basic foods, shelter, and clothing to refugees, widows, widowers, single parents, the needy, the poor, and travelers in the community. The Social and Welfare committee is also in charge of the IAR’s Food Pantry. Food pantry members volunteer every two weeks to make sure that community participants have the basic needs.
There is also Mariam Clinic, which is a faith-based, free clinic that serves the under served in the community. It operates every Sunday and caters to the health needs of hundreds of Muslims and non-Muslims. Mariam Clinic is staffed by physicians, medical specialists, nurses, CNAs, interpreters, social workers, as well as college students in the Triangle area. There are many IAR members who enjoy the services at Mariam Clinic. The IAR also plays a huge role during the annual Health Fair that takes place at the Method Park Community Center. Many Muslim health professionals render free health services to many Muslims and non-Muslims during the event.
Despite the strides, there is also room for improvement. On an individual level, many people still do not get the health and medical attention they really need. And because it is such a huge community, it is challenging to know who is really in need of assistance. Despite the awareness of the free clinic, health fair, and food pantry, there are still some members who might feel reluctant to come out and ask for help due to fear, embarrassment, or not being able to communicate in English. Hence, there is this urgent need to reach out to more people.
One tip I would recommend for other congregations that wish to implement healthier practices, policies and environments, is to stay positive and never lose focus. Collaboration, communication, communal support, and consistency in our health duties are the keys to healthier and sustainable congregations and communities. It does take a community to raise a healthy world.
The success story above was submitted by Maryam Funmilayo, PHW Liaison at the Islamic Association of Raleigh, and under the leadership of Imams Sameh Asal and Baianonie. If your congregation would like to get involved in the NC Council of Churches’ efforts to improve the health of God’s people, please visit the PHW website at www.healthandwholeness.org.
– Willona Stallings, PHW Program Coordinator