by Rahman Nasir
When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, I remember waking up in the middle of the night and cracking open my blinds to look outside. The street resembled a flowing river and the water was halfway up my driveway, but my house was safe. Unfortunately, 70% of my hometown was under water. Just 2 or 3 miles down the road, people were inundated in their homes with water at waste level. The city was in distress.
My name is Rahman Nasir, I am 23 years old, and I have lived in Houston my whole life. It is the only home I have ever known. Despite what feels like annual flooding, I have never witnessed anything like this catastrophe.
Recalling those first few day I remember a feeling of helplessness taking over. I felt completely useless as I read and hear about all the families who were displaced. Then I received a message on my phone from my youth group: “Who can help serve the people of Houston who were effected by this devastating storm?” I responded as quickly as I possibly could that I was available.
Now, two weeks after the storm, I am grateful that I was able to work with this group. This group is called the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association. The work we did in the past two weeks has changed many lives, especially my own. Over 150 volunteers have worked in this effort with more on the way. We have fed over 600 displaced people in shelters with food we cooked from scratch. We collected supplies from our neighbors and raised over $10,000 dollars to provide food, water, and other necessities for the victims of the storm. We performed 23 boat rescues and volunteered at six different churches and shelters. We also helped clean out over 45 homes of moldy furniture and dry wall, most of them in low income neighborhoods that don’t have any other kind of support.I was deeply effected by all the people who were crying and saying that we were heaven sent, and that we arrived right as they were losing hope. When I asked my fellow Houstonians how they were dealing with all the damage, many of them responded saying that though we may have lost everything, we still have each other and that is what matters. I saw the resilience that the people of this town possess. I felt extremely proud to be a Houstonian after I saw the overwhelming amount of support and love that we had for each other in that desperate time. I saw people helping people without worrying about which race, religion, creed, or class the victims are
I am grateful to be a part of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association which has provided me with mentorship throughout my life and also organized and planned this relief effort. We were able to go to some of the toughest neighborhoods, where many people didn’t have any insurance, and we provided the help that they needed. This value of serving humanity is part and parcel of my Islamic faith. The Quran says: “You are the best people ever raised for the good of mankind because you have been raised to serve others (3:111).”
There is still a lot of work to do and the recovery will be long, but I know in my heart that my city will overcome it, and come back stronger than ever.