By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Kuwait and, in particular, Zakaat House of Kuwait, which for decades has been funding social programmes to assist the poor and needy in Guyana, such as orphanage programmes and other philanthropic works through the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG), has agreed to fund the expansion and modernisation of a mosque in Meten-meer-Zorg, a small rural community in this South American country, which will be named Masjid al Kuwait.
Zakaat House, a non-governmental organisation in Kuwait, accepted the CIOG’s proposal to fund the “Masjid al Kuwait.” The project includes the modernisation and expansion of the present mosque, addition of a library, a female prayer hall, an auditorium, four guest rooms, a kitchen and dining facilities, according to the CIOG.
“The present Masjid cannot accommodate the worshippers, which have increased, especially in the female section and which does not have the necessary facilities to cater for the needs of the community. The new Masjid will accommodate more than 500 worshippers at any time, and will complement the existing buildings housing the Meten-meer-Zorg Islamic Academy,” the press statement said.
Construction of the state-of-the-art Masjid was due to start last Saturday during a turning of the sod event. After it’s complete, the CIOG said, “The central mosque will serve the communities at West Coast Demerara and East Bank Essequibo.”
Back in 2011, Zakaat House funded the building of a school to accommodate 300-plus students at the same Meten- Meer- Zorg Islamic Academy. And, more recently, donated a bus to transport students to school in Guyana.
According to the president of the CIOG, Fazeel Ferouz, Kuwait continues to make a difference in the lives of poor children by allowing them access to education, hence allowing them an opportunity to maximize their potential, with the help of donations from supporters such as Zakaat House, government and people of Kuwait, the International Islamic Charitable Organisation, and the Ministry of Awqaf.
The CIOG has been in existence for 35 years and supports the socio-economic development of Muslims in Guyana through their support of 137 mosques throughout Guyana, their Zakaat programme, education, dawah, healthcare, disaster relief and women empowerment. In addition, the CIOG aid needy non-Muslims and is at the forefront of disaster relief regardless or religious beliefs, which has brought great admiration of the organisation locally and internationally.
Guyana and Kuwait established diplomatic ties in 1995 and are both members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Kuwait is today one of Guyana’s strongest partners in the Arab world. Kuwait will fund a four-lane highway in Guyana and is hosting the Guyana Embassy in Kuwait City at a substantial discount. Kuwaiti’s prime minister, Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah visited Guyana 2010.
Muslims are an estimated 13 percent of Guyana’s population and Islam arrived in the former British and Dutch colony with slaves from Hausa, Fulani, Mandinga, Akan, among other Muslim African nations. Later, indentured immigrants from India, Afghanistan and what is now Pakistan brought more Muslims to Guyana.