The Journal Gazette
Sunday, September 01, 2019 8:10 pm

Good food and other wares help raise funds for Burmese center's construction project

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Food – including Burmese fish noodle soup, Thai papaya salad and Malaysian-style rice and fried chicken – seemed aplenty Sunday afternoon at the Burmese Muslim Education and Community Center, but some dishes were already running out before the expected dinner rush.

Blame it on good turnout for a daylong fundraiser benefiting the masjid construction project.

Masjid is Arabic for mosque.

The event, which was scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in southeast Fort Wayne, drew more people than anticipated, perhaps around 1,000, organizers said.

It is "going very well even though there is rain," organizer Linda Marlar Aye said as a light sprinkle fell over the outdoor event along Seddlemeyer Avenue north of Tillman Road and east of Anthony Boulevard.

Children jumped in a bouncy house as men prepared fresh sugar cane juice and a light mid-afternoon crowd selected food from about a dozen tables manned by teams of women, cooking the aromatic dishes on site.

At least one of the 14 tables was inactive, having run out of supplies.

Previous fundraisers have generated $6,000 to $8,000, said So Min Oo, the center's secretary.

Construction milestones include the completion of an addition for overflow prayer space, classes, training, workshops and community meeting space, according to the center's website.

"Inshallah" – God willing – "within a year or two, we are hoping to complete the Phase IV of the project that will include classrooms, dedicated space for sisters and bathing facilities for funeral," according to an update the center posted on Facebook last month.

Although labeled a fundraiser, Sunday's event had another purpose: bring the Burmese Muslim and neighboring communities together and learn from each other, Aye and Oo said.

The Burmese Muslim community is growing, Oo said, noting the most recent count placed the population at more than 6,000 people. Hundreds of people generally visit the mosque for Friday prayer, he added.

But, Oo said, "A lot of people don't know we exist here."


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