He grew up in a place where food was scarce and toddlers passing through sewage-filled alleys was an everyday sight. To Mohammad El-Mezain, that place he called home was one of Palestine’s many refugee camps. As a child, he supported the people of Palestine in every way he could. And as he grew older and eventually moved out of the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunus, he continued to ease the plight of Palestinians.
Mr. El-Mezain was born in Khan Yunus, Gaza in 1953 and lived there until the age of 19. He moved to Egypt in 1973 and received a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Al-Azhar University in Cairo. By the time he completed his college degree, Mr. El-Mezain had finished memorizing the Holy Quran. He lived in several Middle Eastern countries — including Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates — before finally moving to the United States in 1983.
In 1985, he received his Masters degree in Economics from Colorado State University. He moved to New Jersey in 1979 and married Fatima. The couple lived in New Jersey until 1999 after which they settled in San Diego, California. They currently have eight American-born children: Ibrahim, Abu-Bakr, Omar, Eman, Othman, Salsabil, Tasnim and Ali.
Mr. El-Mezain worked as an Imam, a mosque leader, in Colorado and New Jersey. He worked at the southern-California branch of Holy Land Foundation from 1999 until it was shut down in 2001. Described by relatives as kind-hearted, Mr. El-Mezain has always remembered his father’s words:
“Never say no to a chance to help the poor and needy.”