Sheikh boosts city aid mission
The Sheikh of Dubai is providing one of his Hercules planes so that Preston's Muslim community can take much-needed medical aid to Indonesia.
Mosques in Preston have been rallying round to raise funds to help those affected by the tsunami disaster which hit South Asia on Boxing Day.
More than £100,000 has so far been raised by Preston's Muslim community and one delegation has already been out to distribute funds directly to those in need. Now, a team from Preston is planning to head out to Indonesia on behalf of the North West Relief Trust which has donated £6,000 to deliver medical aid such as painkillers, ointment and bandages to the devastated region.
Sohail Nawaz, general secretary of the Raza Mosque, on St Paul's Road, is flying to Indonesia on Sunday with Ishaq Ahmed, Mohammed Abdul Samad, Abdul Maroof and Abdullah Valli, who all live in Preston.
The men have paid for flights themselves and were planning to take the medical aid with them on their
mercy mission. Thanks to the generosity of pharmaceutical companies and the public, they have collected three-and-a-half tons of medical equipment.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, has offered them the use of a Hercules transporter to deliver the equipment.
The plane will fly into Heathrow on Sunday before heading for Indonesia.
The team will be met by members of the Indonesian Army who will help them to distribute aid.
Sohail said: "We began ringing around companies to ask for donations or to allow us to buy supplies at trade prices.
"We realised we were not going to be able to carry all the aid with us on the plane, so began looking at alternatives.
"One of the chaps going out with us told us he knew someone in Dubai who was willing to donate the freight costs.
"Our contact spoke to the Sheikh, who responded by giving us a Hercules.
"This mission demonstrates how the Muslim community can come together to the aid of the world, irrespective of race and religion."
The Raza Mosque has collected around £8,000, while Muslim organisation Al-Ansar donated £3,000 and the Aqsa Mosque collected £2,000 towards the mission of mercy.
Mosques in Preston have all pledged a donation.
Ishaq Ahmed, of Argyll Road, Deepdale, said: "We want to take basic medical necessities rather than clothing as other countries and organisations are donating items like this.
"If we get there and we have too much in the way of medical supplies, at least we can donate it to hospitals in the country as they will be able to make use of the equipment and it will not be wasted."
20 January 2005