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  • A Lebanese man holds an Ecuadorean flag in front of goods collected by the Muslim Community of Quito.

    A Lebanese man holds an Ecuadorean flag in front of goods collected by the Muslim Community of Quito. | Photo: teleSUR

Published 21 April 2016

teleSUR spoke to members of Ecuador's Muslim community about their program to collect goods for those affected by Saturday's earthquake. 

The Muslim community of Quito has joined in the humanitarian efforts for the people most affected by Saturday's magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Ecuador.

Related: Ecuador: Correa Details Funding for Post-Earthquake Rebuilding

Imam Mahmoud Marghani, a man from Egypt who has been in the country for only a year and five months, is overseeing the efforts to collect goods. In front of the largest mosque in Ecuador, known as the Khaled Ibn al-Walid Islamic Cultural Center, near the Carolina Park northern Quito, there are stacks of water, non-perishable food, and other necessary goods.

"We began the campaign on Tuesday, and we've received a lot of donations. Not just from Arab Muslims, but Arab Christians, Ecuadorean Catholics, and many others," Marghani told teleSUR. "We are required to help, God gave us this command."

A collection of goods for quake victims in front of the largest mosque in Ecuador.

The mosque started in a small house in 1982. Its founder was named Mohammed al-Assar, a man from Egypt. He worked together with a small group of Muslims to begin services.

Since then, both the mosque and the number of Muslims in Ecuador have grown. Now, there are seven mosques in all of Ecuador, three of which are in Quito, and an unknown number of Muslims.

Ahmed Shayeb, a member of the board of directors for the mosque, told teleSUR that their community wasn't seeking money.

"We want to help the people directly, in solidarity," he said. "We want to share in the happiness and the sadness of the people of Ecuador, who have welcomed us."

The men of the mosque say that donations have been plentiful, and they are working with the government to have the products delivered to the areas that need it, especially those in the coastal regions of Manabi and Esmeraldas.

Shayeb is originally from Palestine, but grew up in Colombia. He says that his time in Ecuador has been wonderful and that he is happy to give back to the community. He pointed out that the feeling extends outside of Arabs in Ecuador: 19 Palestinian doctors, specialists who flew in from the Middle East, have already been deployed to the hardest-hit areas.


A view inside the Khaled ibn al-Walid Islamic Cultural Center and Mosque

The Muslims of Ecuador are preparing for the long haul, too. "We plan to extend our efforts for weeks. What happened here is horrible, and it's not something that can be fixed in a few days," Shayeb continued.

Imam Marghani told teleSUR that their efforts would also include a nation-wide prayer on Friday.

"Every single mosque will say a prayer on Friday for the people of ground zero. It will be the same prayer. We hope we can help," he concluded.

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