COLUMBIA — Looking for a way to help the people of Libya? It could be as easy as eating dinner.
A local fundraising effort called "IMET Fundraising for Libyan Children and Their Families" will host two events this weekend: a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and a dinner.
The tournament will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Oakland Junior High School, 3405 Oakland Place. The entry fee is $50 for each team of up to four players, with a maximum of 16 teams.
The dinner will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Casablanca, 501 Elm St. The event will feature Libyan food prepared by members of the Libyan community, and tickets cost $20.
The fundraising efforts were set in motion by Ahmed El-Tayash, a Columbia resident and part-owner of Campus Eastern Foods. He was born and raised in the United States, but his parents and older brothers were born in Libya. Many members of his family are still there, and he said the Libyan community is tight-knit, so he feels a strong connection to the current situation there.
“You feel like it’s happening to you, which it is,” he said.
Watching the conflict unfold in Libya, he and his family and friends "wanted to do something to make some kind of difference,” he said.
El-Tayash contacted Syed Arshad Husain, a professor of child psychiatry at MU and family friend whom El-Tayash has known for a long time. Husain is the founder of the International Medical & Educational Trust, or IMET, an organization that works to “promote the physical, emotional and educational well-being of the children of the world," according to the trust’s website.
When El-Tayash asked what he could do to help, Husain said he loved the idea of raising money for Libya, so the two met and decided to go forward with it, El-Tayash said.
Hina Syed, administrative assistant at the trust, and El-Tayash are coordinating the efforts, and Husain is a consultant. Syed, El-Tayash and a small committee of volunteers meet to plan fundraising.
Syed said the group has already raised a lot of money by spreading fliers and at an event last Friday at the Islamic Center of Central Missouri in Columbia, and they’re hoping the weekend's events will help bring in more.
Their efforts to help Libya are humanitarian, not political, El-Tayash said. They are concentrating on helping children and the injured and providing medicine and supplies.
“Every cent” of the money raised will go to children in Libya, El-Tayash said. Because it will go through the trust, there will be no overhead fees. He and at least one other friend plan to personally deliver the supplies in Libya, but they will pay their own way there.
It is difficult to get supplies such as medicine into Libya, Syed said, but they're working with an organization called Doctors Worldwide that will work with El-Tayash to obtain them when he gets there.
El-Tayash has not set a goal for fundraising, not wanting to limit the amount but rather hoping to do as much as possible.
“We hope to raise as much funds as we possibly can and do whatever we can to help Libyan children and their families,” Syed said.
To get involved in the tournament or for more information, contact Fuad Khaleel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets for Sunday's dinner can be purchased at Casablanca, Campus Eastern Foods or by contacting El-Tayash at email@example.com.
General donations to IMET Fundraising for Libyan Children and Their Families can be made online at imet.us or by mail to 2516 Forum Blvd., Suite 102, Columbia, MO 65203. Make checks payable to IMET Libyan Fund.