East Brunswick-based Muslims promote sustainability with new project

My Central Jersey
By Cheryl Makin
July 5, 2021

EAST BRUNSWICK – The Dawoodi Bohras of New Jersey are spearheading a range of sustainability initiatives under the banner of Project Rise.

Recently, the state passed a joint legislative resolution to recognize the efforts of the Dawoodi Bohra community toward environmental responsibility and sustainability initiatives that benefit their neighbors and the community at large, said Murtaza Khomusi, spokesperson for the community.

The resolution was sponsored by Assemblymen Sterley Stanley and Robert Karabinchak and state Sen. Patrick J. Diegan Jr. The resolution represents the first time the Dawoodi Bohra community has been recognized in a U.S. legislative chamber, Khomusi said.

The Dawoodi Bohra community is a subsect of Shia Muslim, and estimates put its population around the world at 1 million.

To commemorate the achievement, the Dawoodi Bohras hosted local dignitaries and guests, including Mayor Brad Cohen, Stanley and Sam Khan, president of the Muslim American Council.

“His Holiness Dr. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin has stressed the need for environmental stewardship on many occasions,” said community member Dr. Rashida Saify, adding these teachings are the drive behind the community’s commitment to taking care of the environment.

Saify highlighted the Dawoodi Bohras’ most recent initiative, “Happy Nests,” which centers its message around upcycling, or reusing recyclable waste and turning it into something new.

“Just like birds make their nests by repurposing pieces and scraps from their existing environment, the Happy Nests project strives to make the environment of our homes, our communities, and our world healthy and safe for generations to come…for this purpose, a strong network of Dawoodi Bohra women have mobilized worldwide with a shared focus to build a healthier and safer environment,” Saify said.

Several upcycling exhibits were made for the event by the women of the community, including four main displays, based on the four seasons. Each exhibit featured multiple upcycling projects, such as planters, a greenhouse, tote bags, vases, cushions, and more, all made from recyclable materials such as water bottles, juice boxes and milk jugs.

The walkthrough was followed by the official presentation of the resolution to the Dawoodi Bohras by Stanley.

“I had no idea this [upcycling] existed,” Stanley said. “It was fascinating to find — for you (Dawoodi Bohra community members) to teach me was a huge undertaking. It goes to show how we need to really delve into our community and teach each other on what can be done to save our environment…It will be even more exciting to see how it spreads.”

“It thrills me to see a community that has taken that (environmental stewardship) as a mission and has done so much with this idea of repurposing and helps us live in a more sustainable world,” Cohen added.

For more information, go to www.thedawoodibohras.com/project-rise/.

Email: cmakin@gannettnj.com

Cheryl Makin is an award-winning features and education reporter for MyCentralJersey.com, part of the USA Today Network. Contact: Cmakin@gannettnj.com or @CherylMakin

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