Texas State Student Ali Abdul has not been home to India in more than two years because of travel restrictions due to COVID-19. Ali is like many international students across the U.S. since March 2020. He plans to fly home in July to spend summer break with his family.
“Not being able to see my family, I felt depressed and felt like I did not belong anywhere. Because right when I moved to the U.S. for school, Pandemic happened. I had no friends; I did not know what to do and I felt stuck. I had no idea about how to go buy groceries or to where to go to eat. So, I mostly ate fast food. If I had known that COVID-19 would become so bad, and I would be stuck here without my loved ones I would have never come here,” said Abdul.
More than 3000 international students go to Texas State university, many of whom have not been able to travel since 2020. Some of them have been waiting for the lockdown to lift to be able to meet their loved ones. Sana Sheikh, a sophomore, has not seen her family in 3 years. “I was so excited to pursue education in the U.S. since the education system is great here compared to Bangladesh, but had I thought about not being able to go back home to meet my family during breaks. While I am glad that I found people who were able to help me adjust and guide me in the right direction, it was from a distance since we were not supposed to meet people. I am so excited to finally meet my mom and to be able to hug is a dream come true because I did not even know that I would survive the pandemic. I was also worried about my parents because they are in their 60’s,” said Sheikh.
Muhammad kaif president of Nueces Mosque has been helping people get through the pandemic since 2020. He has provided necessary help to students in need. “Students would come here to stay if their roommates were sick with COVID-19. We at the mosque made sure to help students who were new to this country. There were times that they felt sad because they did not have any family here and they could not make new friends, but eventually we all became one big family trying to help each other get through the toughest part of our lives. In Islam, we are taught to help people in need and that was the perfect time to gather blessings of people who needed us,” said Kaif.
Kaif has not just been helping Muslims, but he has been an immense help to non-Muslims too. He believes religion should not divide people it should bring them together. “Last year during the holy month of Ramadan, we served more than 3000 people who needed us. We provided transportation to be able to get tests and vaccinations. We took all the precautions to make sure that the disease did not spread. We also made sure to provide counseling to students that needed it,” said Kaif. “Having a mosque on campus and getting a support from the people there helped me get through it easier. If I did not have help from the mouse, I do not know how I would have survived. I tested positive early 2021, I did not know what to do and I had no one around me to help as no one wanted to get closer to a sick person for obvious reasons, I called the hospital and they told me to stay at home for 14 days (about 2 weeks), I came across Nueces Mosque’s page on Facebook and Message the imam there. He sent help and food for the next 14 days (about 2 weeks),” said Sheikh.
Travel restrictions have finally been lifted, students are excited to go meet their loved ones, Students are hoping that the situation remains the same when they come back because they want to complete their school. Some students are wondering if the classes are still offered online, they can finish next semester back home. That way they can save money on rent and stay with their family until they are required to come back to the campus.