A groundbreaking is scheduled in Morrisania on Wednesday for a new home for the Bronx mosque that was destroyed by fire and helped the local West African community through multiple tragedies. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Members of the Islamic Cultural Center of the Bronx are eager to break ground for their new mosque on 166th Street in Morrisania, so they can rebuild and expand.
A fire destroyed their original house of worship nearly three years ago.
"Very exciting, very emotional. At the same time, we are ready for the task," said Bakary Camara of the Islamic Cultural Center of the Bronx.
Now at a temporary site, the Islamic Cultural Center has been a major part of the lives of many West Africans who live in the West Bronx.
Members have dealt with a lot of tragedy. Prior to the building's fire, nine children and one adult from two African families were killed in a house fire in March 2007. The funerals were held at the mosque.
Some of those who died were buried in Mali. NY1 traveled to West Africa for the burials.
"Everybody came and helped us comfort the family, and comfort us when the building burned. So we are very, very indebted to this community," said Camara.
Now they ready for a new and brighter chapter in their community's story. Their house of worship and community center is expected to resemble a traditional mosque. It will be 15,000-square-feet with three floors and a basement.
Leaders say such a structure is needed for their next generation.
"All our fighting is for our kids, our fighting is not for ourselves, but for our kids, next generation, to be good, decent neighbors and to educate them," said Mahamadou Soukouna of the Islamic Cultural Center of the Bronx.
"I'm very excited, it is going to be wonderful if they build it up," said student Fatima Jabbi.
For now, the leaders say they have enough money to start the project but admit they do not have enough to finish it yet. Mosque leaders said the new building will cost around $3 million and they are a long way from that mark.
But they say through prayer, dedication and hard work, they think they will be successful in raising all of the money. They hope the doors will be open for prayer and activities in a year.