Relief drive for Derna

Donations for Derna will be collected at Fok Hall and Cafaro House until December. Photo by Tala Alsharif / The Jambar

By Tala Alsharif

Youngstown State University student Marrwa Kermagi organized a relief drive for Derna, an eastern city in Libya that recently faced devastating floods Sept. 11. 

Kermagi, a biology pre-med major and Libyan American, is organizing the drive because of her connection to Libya and her recent trip there. 

“You want to do something for your country,” Kermagi said. “You want to do something for your people, but it’s hard to do that when you’re not even there.” 

According to NBC news, tropical storm Daniel caused heavy rainfall, flooding Derna and taking the lives of more than 11,300 people with over 10,000 people still missing.

Two dams collapsed because of the storm, sweeping entire neighborhoods and infrastructures, causing 40,000 people to be displaced, CNN stated. 

Kermagi said the storm was especially devastating because Libya has been rebuilding since the civil war in 2011. 

“I’m very passionate about my culture,” Kermagi said. “Seeing your people suffer after such a few years of … trying to rebuild everything … it’s just heartbreaking.” 

Kermagi said she’s collecting donations from the YSU community at Fok Hall and Cafaro House until December. 

“[The] main focus right now is toiletries … baby clothes, blankets, diapers, clothes for adults [and] shoes,” Kermagi said. 

Kermagi also accepts monetary donations and wants to work alongside her local mosque to raise money.

“I’m going to be doing Henna there … and have a donation box as well.” Kermagi said. “That money is going to go directly to … buying materials and sending them out.” 

Kermagi also raises money for Libya with Islamic Drive, a humanitarian agency. She works with friends from Denver to whom she will be shipping donations to every couple of weeks.

One of her friends, Eleef Atwi, a junior exercise science major at the University of Denver, said she started collecting donations with a friend after learning about the devastating news. 

Atwi is collaborating with a mosque in Colorado, the Denver Islamic Society ‘Masjid Al Nur.’

“We have a donation dropbox over there and that’s where we combine all the donations, organize them and ship them out from,” Atwi said. 

Atwi said since there is a large Libyan community in Denver, word about donations spread fast.

“A lot of people donated clothes for women, men [and] kids,” Atwi said. “A lot of people did donate money and … we utilized that to buy toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand sanitizers, deodorant and stuff like that.”

Kermagi said there aren’t many people bringing in donations at YSU and she hopes for more individuals in the community to be aware of the disaster. 

“Donate to nonprofits that are helping [the people in Libya], even when my drive finishes, it’s going to take years to get [Derna] all reconstructed,” Kermagi said.

Students interested in donating to the Derna relief drive, can go to Fok Hall and Cafaro House and drop off any materials in the donation boxes provided. Students can also visit the link found on Marrwa Kermagi’s Instagram @marrwa.kermagi to donate money.