BENDIGO’S Muslim community has managed to triple its initial fundraising target as the start date for the construction of the city’s first mosque draws closer.
After setting a target of $50,000, the community received $150,000 in donations from individuals in Bendigo and Melbourne – from both inside and outside the Muslim community.
They hosted a dinner for 150 people at the Bendigo Harness Racing Club last weekend, where more monetary donations flowed in for the Bendigo Islamic Community Centre.
Early works on the first stage must begin before July 1 this year. The first stage, costing $2.1 million, involves construction of the prayer hall, caretakers residence and amenities building, along with external works.
The second stage includes the central courtyard, multi-purpose room and library.
The final stage involves the sports hall, cafe and foyer. No completion date has been set beyond the first stage.
The total project is estimated to cost $5 million.
Bendigo Islamic Community Centre spokesperson Aisha Neelam said the fundraising process was “transparent” and they welcomed any questions from the wider community.
“There’s no external people. We’re looking towards the Muslim community first in Bendigo, then Melbourne, and just around Australia to help build it,” she said.
“At this particular fundraiser, we have a few very generous people come from Melbourne to support us as well. We had people from within Bendigo – the Muslim and non-Muslim community.
“It’s all out in the open. We’re happy to answer questions.”
Dr Neelam said the project’s development was dependent on the amount of funding they could raise in the coming years.
In 2015, Bendigo had 125 families of Islamic faith. The mosque will have a capacity of 150, and 375 for Eid and Friday prayers.
Design plans for the mosque were released last year by GKA Architects, and include a spacious courtyard which will form the centrepiece of the project.
Sheikh Alaa El Zokm, imam of the Heidelberg mosque, was the guest speaker at the dinner on the weekend, which also included an auction of paintings completed by an artist.
Sikh spoken word artist Sukhjit Kaur provided entertainment for the evening.