‘It’s a blessing’: Muslim relief groups help disaster-stricken Southern communities recover
In North Carolina, it’s typically Christian ministries that provide relief services — but the expansion of a Muslim faith-based disaster recovery group is changing that.
According to Religious News Service, the North Carolina chapter of Islamic Relief, a global Muslim nonprofit dedicated to providing disaster relief, is is in the business of helping families in need. Just over 200 miles away from the site of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month, they’re working to change minds in a divided world as well.
Recently, members of IR came to the aide of 61-year-old Delores J. Porter, a resident of the Eastern North Carolina town of Princeville whose house received extended damage from Hurricane Matthew last year.
“I just don’t know how to thank you enough,” Porter told the IR employees she found at her old house. “If I start tearing, just forgive me. It has been a long journey.”
The tiny town of Princeville, with a population just over 2,000 people, was founded by free people of color after the Civil War — and was unduly hit by last year’s Hurricane Matthew, which left most of the town’s residents with homes too damaged to be habitable.
That’s where religious disaster relief groups come in. In the area, IR joined the mostly-Christian groups to provide aide to the people of the region — and in turn, many residents see them differently.
“I don’t even know all the denominations that are here,” said Greg Bethea, the interim town manager of the disaster-stricken town told Religious News. “It’s like a love fest here. People are hugging the community.”
For the residents, the religion of the aid workers matters has ceased to be a consideration as well.
“It just tells me you have people who have a generous heart and it doesn’t matter what religion they are,” Porter said. “It’s just a blessing.”