TAMPA BAY, JANUARY 5, 2010 - The University of South Florida Muslim Student Association was awarded the Youth for Human Rights Award “Human Right # 25 – Food and Shelter for All” at the United Nations Human Rights Day Celebration in Clearwater, for their tireless efforts of feeding the homeless every Friday night for the last three years. With an estimated 9,500 homeless people in Hillsborough County, and the number increasing daily due to the largest number of unemployed persons in the United States since The Great Depression, these students go into the abandoned streets of downtown Tampa to feed and comfort the homeless, showing that the youth of today are concerned about their fellow man.
Project Downtown was started in Tampa three years ago by a handful of members of the USF Muslim Student Association. Two of the original members, Selsabeel Elyaman, and Yasir Abunamous, explained how one night they decided to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and give them to those who had almost nothing. This small handful of students started a project that has since grown into a stable, powerful activity that makes a difference. Now, it isn’t uncommon to see 40-50 people show up on one Friday night, talking and giving out hundreds of sandwiches and water bottles donated by local restaurants to those less fortunate living in the streets of Tampa.
In fact the project has become so popular that people outside of the group and other non-profit organizations, such Youth for Human Rights Florida, join in to help. Dustin McGahee, President of Youth for Human Rights Florida said, “It really opened my eyes to see what these college students are doing. No group deserved the award more. It’s inspiring to see a group of college kids go out every Friday night, not just occasionally, but every Friday night, to help others less fortunate then themselves.” McGahee became involved in educating others of their human rights as he is inspired to action by the words of humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard, “Human rights must be made a fact, not an idealistic dream.”
Ms. Elyaman explained the work is based from the Quran, "We feed you for the sake of God alone, no reward do we seek, nor thanks." (76:9) But she also pointed out that the project is not just about giving food to those who are hungry, but talking and caring about those who are having a difficult time in their lives.
For more information on Youth for Human Rights and free DVD downloads on the 30 human rights go: www.youthforhumanrights.org. For more information on Project Downtown Tampa contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
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