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Partnership the official newsletter of Islamic Relief

Spring 2007

Somalia Natural disasters and recent violence have taken their toll on Somalia. Islamic Relief reports from the ground on the increasingly unstable situation facing people there.

Experiencing Education Children living in the world’s poorest countries are the least likely to attend school, leaving them vulnerable to poverty, abuse, and exploitation.

Darfur, Sudan Islamic Relief’s Yousef Abdullah reports from his factfinding mission to the refugee camps of West Darfur.

Making Malaria History As part of the President’s Malaria Initiative and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, Islamic Relief tackles the malaria epidemic.

Islamic Relief A Worldwide Leader in Alleviating Poverty

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Cov e r 3 Crisis in Somalia After several months of turbulence in Somalia, December 2006 saw

over 400,000 people in Somalia displaced because of intense fighting, severe food shortages, and devastating floods.

Dep a rt m en t s Field Update

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Returning to Devastation Earthquake-affected Pakistan

Life in the Camps of Darfur Darfur, Sudan

Events

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Moving Forward, Honoring the Past

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To China With Love

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Lending a Hand

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Paying homage to those lost in the 2004 tsunami. Udhiyah/Qurbani program delivers food to beneficiaries worldwide. Domestic food distribution to those who need it most in the United States.

Domestic Projects 6 Chaos in Mogadishu

Mahamoud Auke, Islamic Relief ’s coordinator for southern Somalia, reports on the power vacuum created after government forces abandoned the capitol of Mogadishu.

A Break from the Ordinary

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Dismantling Dismay

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Volunteers from Dartmouth College spend their spring break volunteering with Islamic Relief in New Orleans. Nearly two years after Hurricane Katrina, Islamic Relief continues to help rebuild lives in the Gulf Coast.

7 Partnering to Save Lives

Islamic Relief partners once again with AmeriCares to send much needed aid to the people of Somalia.

Fe a t ur e s 12 Experiencing Education

Helping vulnerable children break out of the poverty trap by allowing them to experience education.

News

Making Malaria History

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Strengthening a Partnership

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Working towards eradicating malaria. UN World Food Program and Islamic Relief sign Memorandum of Understanding.

Orphan Focus A World of Hope

Islamic Relief sponsor visits orphan in Bangladesh.

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Partnership | the official newsletter of Islamic Relief | spring 2007

14 Bridging the Gap

After noticing the disparity in education in Ghana, Islamic Relief turned its focus towards improving education and training teachers.

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STAFF Nadia Afghani Zaid Hisham Mostafa Mahboob

CONTACT Islamic Relief 6131 Orangethorpe Ave Ste 450 Buena Park, CA 90620

CONTRIBUTORS Yousef Abdallah Sakina Begum Diana Darwish Rim Hussin Anwar Khan Tasneem Motala Christina Safiya Tobias-Nahi Sabeen Shaiq

(888) 479-4968 toll-free (714) 676-1301 fax partnership@irw.org www.irw.org Tax ID# 95-4453134

SPECIAL THANKS Arif Shaikh

Partnership, the official newsletter of Islamic Relief, is published quarterly. Please contact us to request additional copies for distribution, or, if you would like to reproduce, or transmit any information in this newsletter by any means, electronic, photocopying, or otherwise.

Cover & Above: REUTERS/Antony Njuguna, courtesy www.alertnet.org


On December 20, 2006, fighting broke out in southern and central Somalia forcing over 100,000 people to abandon their homes and flee for safety. Local law enforcement abandoned the capital of Mogadishu on December 28, leaving a power vacuum and throwing the country into chaos.

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Everything is upside down t authority and everyone see

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ohamoud Auke, Islamic Relief ’s coordinator for southern Somalia, reported looting and violence in the capital, Mogadishu. “Everything is upside down, there is no government, no authority and everyone seems to have a gun in town.”

Puntland and the Juba and Shabelle regions in the south. Approximately half the population of Balatweyne fled the city according to United Nations staff in Nairobi.

The Displaced

Sixteen Years of Crisis

At least 800 people have died in the current conflict and thousands of people across southern and central Somalia have fled their homes to escape the fighting.   As a result of sixteen years of political instability, droughts, and floods, there are around 2 million people in Somalia who depend on humanitarian aid for their survival. Previous to this current wave of violence which forced 100,000 people to abandon their homes, there were already 400,000 internally displaced people.

Since 1991, there has been no effective central government in Somalia, causing the country to experience a rapid and longlasting dissension into turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy. The country is divided into a patchwork of warring factions, with the two northern states of Somaliland and Puntland declaring themselves independent.

Thousands of the displaced moved into Galkayo city in the Mudug region of 4

Spring 2007 | Partnership

Many of the displaced people have no shelter, food, or access to clean water.

In addition to civil unrest, Somalia is plagued by natural disasters. Torrential rains in November and December 2006 created the worst flooding in over 50 years, ruining crops and affecting over half a million people.

THE WORST FLOODING IN 50 YEARS Last year the Horn of Africa was gripped by drought and food shortages that left many people on the brink of starvation. When rains eventually came in late October, they were so intense that they flooded entire regions of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, affecting almost two million people. In south Somalia, the Shabelle and Juba rivers burst their banks, submerging hundreds of towns and villages in water. This was the worst flooding Somalia has seen in 50 years, affecting over half a million people in the country. The floods have brought death, destruction of homes and farmland, swept away livestock, and destroyed crops. Even stored food supplies had also been lost to the flood waters, causing food shortages. There were few shelters equipped to help all those in need; food was limited and access to clean water was impossible. These unsanitary conditions created the risk of


diseases spreading fast – malaria, cholera, diarrhea and other water-borne diseases. The escalating political conflict in Somalia, the lack of infrastructure, and the absence of a central government, all hindered the humanitarian aid efforts in the country. The floods left large areas of the country inaccessible by road. Boats were being used to ferry in aid, while in more remote regions aid had to be air-dropped. Shipments of Aid with AmeriCares Displaced families living in a Somali refugee camp, home to over 900 families, suffered through a watery diarrhea outbreak in February of this year. The outbreak spread rapidly, killing 12 children during the first 35 hours. Islamic Relief ’s health team, using medicine recently donated by partnering organization AmeriCares, were some of the first aid workers to reach the affected camp. “I thank God and Islamic Relief. When REUTERS/Antony Njuguna, courtesy www.alertnet.org

the Islamic Relief team reached us, my two sons were near death because of dehydration. But, with God’s help, the treatment done by Islamic Relief ’s staff saved my children,” said Hawa Idow Ali, mother of two affected children. In all, AmeriCares sent over $600,000 of in-kind aid for Islamic Relief to distribute to victims of the humanitarian crisis in Somalia, which was instantly put to use during this outbreak. AmeriCares has been an ongoing supporter of Islamic Relief ’s projects worldwide. Islamic Relief in Somalia Islamic Relief has been carrying out seasonal Ramadan and Udhiyah/Qurbani projects in Somalia since 1996. Over 750,000 people have benefited from these food distributions so far. In 2006, Islamic Relief established a field office in Garowe City, the capital of Puntland state and in Mogadishu, the

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there is no government no ems to have a gun in town

capital. Islamic Relief ’s projects include water and sanitation, health, education, and capacity building. Emergency programs have also helped displaced people in the Bari, Nugaal, and Mudug regions of the Puntland. Islamic Relief ’s work in Somalia has been welcomed by senior government officials and aid agencies in the country. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP) have expressed a readiness to work in partnership with Islamic Relief in Somalia. To assist with the current conflict, Islamic Relief launched a worldwide appeal for $2 million to assist 30,000 people in Puntland and 90,000 people in southern Somalia. The task of assisting those in need was not an easy one. With limited resources in Galkayo and newly displaced people having little or no access to basic sanitation facilities and shelters, Islamic Relief aid workers found themselves faced with daily challenges.

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What is the current situation in the capital, Mogadishu? There is no government at the moment. Everything is upside-down, there is no government, no authority and everybody seems to have a gun in town. There are reports of vehicles being robbed and people can’t go out with mobile phones. Northern Mogadishu has become very warped now, with gangsters manning the streets again. Surprisingly, people are able to move around Mogadishu, al-hamdulillah (all praises due to God Almighty). This morning I drove around ten percent of the city. So it’s mostly safe, at least for the time being it’s safe. And what about the rest of Somalia? It is only the northern parts, the Puntland and Somaliland, which [are] peaceful and with authority. But southern Somalia is completely in anarchy. What are the immediate needs of people in Mogadishu and the rest of Somalia?

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omalia has been plunged into chaos after fighting between conflicting forces broke out, creating hostility in southern and central Somalia on December 20, 2006.

him about the crisis in Somalia on the very day that the capital was abandoned.   Can you give us some background to the situation in Somalia?

A week later, on December 28th, local police fled the capital, Mogadishu, leaving a power vacuum. There were around 250,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) living in scattered camps all over Mogadishu.

Well, Somalia has had no government for the last 16 years - it’s been under civil war. It’s a country of poverty and [has] a lot of difficulties.

Mahamoud Auke, Islamic Relief ’s coordinator for southern Somalia, was in Mogadishu at the moment. We spoke to 6

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For the last two weeks there was fighting between the Islamic Courts and the Somali government, supported by the Ethiopian troops. There are now a lot of IDPs and reports of many deaths in Somalia.

Most of the immediate needs are related to food and medicine. The poverty level here is very high and people have a lot of problems, especially with regards to war and the recent floods in Somalia. So there are a lot of needs – in terms of food, in terms of shelter, in terms of sanitation, medicine, it’s a lot. What work is Islamic Relief doing in Mogadishu? We opened an office here a month ago and we did intervene in locations where there were flooding about 40 kilometers from Mogadishu. We gave food and are planning to [provide] shelter and other things. REUTERS/Antony Njuguna, courtesy www.alertnet.org


PARTNERING TO SAVE lIVES

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slamic Relief and Connecticut-based AmeriCares partnered together again to provide over $600,000 worth of vital medicines and medical supplies to the people of drought and war-stricken Somalia. The supplies have been distributed through two of Islamic Relief ’s health clinics in Dangorayo and Ba’adweyn that were just recently rebuilt by Islamic Relief.

Warsame said “The kind generosity of AmeriCares is highly appreciated, we need these drugs for the health services of these two health centers and our referral hospitals.”

Islamic Relief’s field staff were very grateful for the donation that coincidentally arrived in time for a watery diarrhea outbreak that affected over 900 families. The much needed drugs reached the camp just in time to help. Islamic Relief’s team in Garowe was able to save 119 of the 120 critically affected people, unfortunately one child was so severely dehydrated before the team arrived that they were not able to save the child.

The medicines contained in the aid shipment will also help in treating bacterial infections, aches and pains, fever, and many treatable illnesses which result in preventable loss of lives. Various medical items to be distributed to the clinics include exam gloves, alcohol prep pads, needles, syringes and other supplies.

Islamic Relief ’s Regional Program Coordinator for the Africa Desk, Rashid

The Ministry of Health in the Puntland State of Somalia was also very grateful they sent both Islamic Relief and AmeriCares a letter of appreciation and a certificate.

Somalia faces a multitude of humanitarian crises: in addition to the virtual civil war they are experiencing, many are also affected by the natural disaster of droughts,

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Islamic Relief and AmeriCares Deliver Aid to the People of Somalia

floods, and food shortages. Islamic Relief ’s ongoing aid efforts have benefited thousands of families in the country thus far. Islamic Relief has launched a worldwide $2 million emergency appeal to assist the victims of this current conflict. John Connell, the director of emergency response at AmeriCares, said in a statement, “We are pleased to partner with Islamic Relief on this important initiative, the situation in Somalia is increasingly complex, and by working together, we can help bring relief to some of the hundreds of thousands of people who are suffering there.” Islamic Relief and AmeriCares have worked together on many other humanitarian causes in the recent past. These include Hurricane Katrina, the South Asia earthquake, and responding to the food crisis in Niger.

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Returning to Devastation IR-USA Representative Visits Earthquake-Affected Areas of Pakistan

In March 2007, Islamic Relief ’s National Development Director, Anwar Khan, traveled to earthquake-affected areas of Pakistan to assess ongoing rehabilitation efforts, and meet with beneficiaries to ensure that their needs have been met. Khan shares parts of his journal from the trip, providing insight into the life of an aid worker, and the current conditions of people affected by one of the deadliest earthquakes in recent times.

Saturday, March 3

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e started our three-hour journey from Islamabad by road to Bagh before sunrise. As the sun rose, we assended higher into the mountains. They are lush green and it had been raining earlier so we saw several waterfalls. This is my third trip within 18 months to Kashmir. I am falling in love with the beauty of this area, but am keenly aware of the suffering of people who live in this tough terrain. It has been more than 18 months since the earthquake, but we can still see tents and temporary shelters. We arrive in Bagh after 10:00 am, have

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tea and leave to visit orphans and attend a ceremony of craftsmen receiving their course certificates. It takes one hour to drive 7 miles to the village outside Bagh. The journey is tough and the 4-wheel drive capability of our pickup is tested. We then hike 30 minutes up the mountain to the top -- an altitude of 7,000 feet -- to meet the orphan. It is very high and I feel nauseated. The orphan is Musarrat Nazir and she is 12 years old. As we get the video camera ready we notice the clouds are quickly rising up the mountain. We cannot film inside the shelter she is living in, so we start the interview outside. We continued

the interview in the rain and were forced to stop when it began snowing. We wait inside the shelter for 30 minutes, talking to her uncle and neighbors until the snow shower finishes. We then descend half an hour down the mountain. As we are descending, I notice a girl hiking up the mountain. It has been two hours since the other children returned from school. I am told she is a 16-yearold girl who has to travel six miles to the nearest girl’s high school. She spends two hours descending down the mountain to the nearest main road, and from there, she spends half an hour by bus to travel six


We interviewed an elderly lady who cried when she first saw the water that Islamic Relief brought to her house. She explained that she spent half her life getting water. The people were very appreciative of the help they received from Islamic Relief.

Field Update

the mountains. We saw the link road that we built a few years ago with the local community organizations that we helped to organize. One of the locals told me that they used to spend a day carrying the sick on their shoulders to the nearest road. Now it takes fifteen minutes in a car. Imagine how many lives have been saved.

Monday, March 5 We were not able to meet the Prime Minister of Kashmir as planned because he was in Islamabad, so we visited some of our local projects instead. The first project was a loan project. We met some local shopkeepers whom we provided loans to. They had been refused loans by local financial institutions. They were deeply appreciative that Islamic Relief was the only organization willing to help. We also visited a rubble recycling machine that Islamic Relief provided to crush rubble so it could be recycled to be used in producing bricks for new homes.

miles to school. Today she had to make this journey in the rain and snow, wearing only a shalwar kameez (traditional Pakistani attire) and a shawl to protect her from the snow and rain.

Government of Pakistan has fronted half of a grant, consisting of $4,000 to rebuild the earthquake victim’s homes. To receive the other half, they must meet the earthquake resistance requirements.

The return car journey takes two hours to travel seven miles, because of the rain. That is 3.5 miles an hour. It has taken us five hours to visit one orphan. We do not have time to visit the other orphan, as we were already late for our appointment with the craftsmen.

We slept that night in the best hotel in Bagh. The room was extremely cold, and didn’t have a heater. There wasn’t hot water, so we could not shower, the bed sheets were dirty, and dogs were barking outside for several hours. And, to top it off, I had a fever. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but appreciate how lucky I was compared to all the hardships of most people in the area.

The craftsmen have been trained by one of our engineers on how to construct earthquake-resistant housing, according to Pakistani Government regulations. There are about forty of them, and they are a welcoming crowd, even after waiting three hours for us. We interview them and I present them with certificates. This project is a great idea, helping to improve the safety of the new homes. The

Sunday, March 4 As usual, we started our journey before sunrise. The journey to Dhirkot took two hours by road. It was good to see Takseen, the head of IR Dhirkot again. We went to Bulund Kot to see some of our community organizations. It was a one hour trip in

Islamic Relief is supporting many orphans in the Muzaffarbad area. One of them is Zafran Ali, who lives with his six brothers and sisters. His 22-year-old brother is his guardian. They rent one room in a house where all seven have to eat, sleep, and live. His broken bones have healed from the earthquake, but the pain of losing both parents stays with him. We had meetings late into the evening, then drove through the dark mountainous path to Islamabad. We arrived to find that our reserved hotel room had been given to someone else. At 2:00 AM we were taken to a guest house. Niyaz and I spent my last few hours in Pakistan working through the night. Tuesday, March 6 It was sad to leave Pakistan again. I feel a belonging to Kashmir and the struggle of those who not only have to deal with poverty, but a daunting terrain as well. It has been 18 months since the earthquake and the world has moved on to other issues. The people are slowly trying to put there lives together. I have a responsibility to speak for them. They will need assistance for at least a decade. God Almighty help us.

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life in the camps of darfur Islamic Relief’s Yousef Abdullah Reports from Sudan

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s my plane landed on West Darfur’s dusty, unpaved airport runway, I immediately knew that this trip, my third field visit with Islamic Relief, would be my most memorable. Upon first arriving to a camp in Geneina, Darfur, I assessed all of Islamic Relief ’s various programs we are implementing to benefit the Internally Displaced People (IDPs), including education, water and sanitation, health and nutrition, and food distribution. Additionally, Islamic Relief is also implementing an important project to help increase safety and security for women, who are often the target of vicious attacks. My first stop was the school in the IDP camp, which was constructed from local material and in very bad shape. There are 1,854 students divided into 28 classes, resulting in an incredibly overcrowded learning environment.

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There are 21 teachers in the school, 19 of which are females. Of the more than 2.5 million displaced people in Darfur, 30 percent are schoolage children. Without the prospect of education, these children will remain forever stuck in their daily struggles, which seem to have no end. Children in the camps desperately need school supplies, desks, and other basic necessities that are required for any learning environment. As I walked through the camp, I visited the hospital, the children at the Pre-K school, and spent time with some of the IDP families. I also had a chance to see the hand pump that Islamic Relief had installed, which serves as the only source of water for families in the camp. As I met with each family, I tried to internalize their situations by reading their faces and spending time in the huts they live in, called tukuls; with their meager possessions laying on dirt

floors. I thought about how these people were forced to leave their homes and villages where they were born and raised. They left their lives behind and moved to Geneina looking for peace and solace. Before the camp opened, these same people slept under the open sky. At the hospital, I met with Dr. Al Waleed, the Medical Coordinator, who told me that this is the only hospital in the camp, helping about 11,000 IDPs. The rooms are very simple, serving the basic needs of patients. Thankfully, while I was visiting, the hospital was undergoing expansion with new rooms, and six new toilet facilities. The toilet facilities were built using local labor, using manual tools - a wooden stick with a sharp edge to dig in the ground. Dr. Al Waleed described the challenges of operating a clinic without electricity. In addition to treating patients in dark


Field Update

examination rooms, vaccines are virtually impossible to keep stocked, and samples cannot be stored in the lab. I tried to imagine treating so many patients under such poor conditions; it seems impossible, but somehow Dr. Al Waleed works with what little he has. After visiting families in the camps, I was happy to hear that people are very satisfied with the services Islamic Relief is providing for them. They made it clear, however, that they miss their homes. Some of them were very optimistic about returning home, yet others said they will never go back in the current conditions. At the Al-Rahma Pre-K school, 272 children attend classes in four meager classrooms. There are a total of 713 preschool children in the camp. The children have to sit on the floor because they don’t have desks; even the teachers don’t have chairs to sit on.

I visited the Women’s Center where women are receiving training on how to build fuel-efficient and possibly life-saving stoves. Women in Darfur often have to go outside the camp looking for wood to use for cooking and building, which makes them vulnerable to violence and sexual assaults. Having fuel-efficient stoves in their own houses reduces the time spent outside the safety of the camp. One IDP described the terrifying situation that thousands of women face each day. “The local tribe doesn’t allow us to collect wood…they say it’s their land and they need the wood themselves. And if they catch us, they start hitting us and in some cases they rape the women.” The stoves Islamic Relief is training women to build reduces wood consumption by more than 70 percent. By using such stoves, women can go for a week without leaving the camp to gather wood.

Although this program does not eliminate the problem, it helps increase security and safety for many women who live in a constant state of fear. Sayeda Ali Abdeljabbar, one of Islamic Relief ’s Women’s Community Workers said that the week-long training program began with 40 women. Hopefully, this program will continue until every house in the camp has one of these stoves. The need for humanitarian assistance for IDPs in Darfur is urgent and immediate. It is shocking and horrifying that some of these people have had to live in these conditions for over four years. Islamic Relief is carrying out some very important projects to help this neglected and vulnerable population. Much more support from the international community, however, is needed to provide them with basic needs, and hopefully, improve their situation while they remain in the camps. Partnership | Spring 2007

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experiencing education Feature

Islamic Relief’s Education Projects Give Hope to Children Around the World

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ducation provides the key to a better future, helping people fulfill their potential and pursue their goals in life. For millions of people across the developing world, even basic education is simply out of reach due to poverty. Poverty is closely linked to illiteracy - as both cause and consequence. Without basic literacy or skills, the opportunities for people to break free from the cycle of poverty are limited.

Islamic Relief operates many projects around the world to help children gain access to a good education. From building and reconstructing schools to providing school meals as an incentive to improve attendance, our work focuses on making it easier for children to stay in school.

Over 870 million adults are illiterate, and two thirds of them are women. Educating girls results in improved family health, and reduced rates of child malnutrition and mortality. It is estimated that every year of a mother’s education reduces the risk of her child’s premature death by nine percent. Literate mothers are also more likely to send their daughters to school.

Over 25 years of civil conflict and natural disasters have left much of Afghanistan’s infrastructure in ruins. Schools across the country have been severely damaged or destroyed and currently less than half of all primary school-age girls are receiving an education. A staggering 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate.

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Supporting Girls Education in Afghanistan

In order to increase the enrollment rate in primary education schools, particularly among girls, Islamic Relief has been reconstructing damaged schools in Afghanistan. In some areas, children have to study out in the open or in tents provided by the government because of the lack of schools. In Paghman, Islamic Relief has rehabilitated eight primary schools, five middle schools and four high schools that will serve children from 50 villages. Islamic Relief also trained over 1,300 newly qualified and returning teachers in 2005, to allow over 74,000 children to benefit from a better standard of education. For more information on Islamic Relief ’s education projects, log onto www.irw.org/education.


Farishta’s New School

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ne of the schools rebuilt by Islamic Relief is the Qala-e-Adeh Girls School that provides education for approximately 800 children in Afghanistan. Eleven year-old Farishta is a student at the school. She was born in a refugee camp in Pakistan where her family sought shelter during the Soviet conflict. They returned to Afghanistan when she was nine, only to find that they no longer had a home. At first they rented a home in Kabul, and later were able to purchase some land in Paghman where they built a house. Farishta’s school was severely damaged during the many conflicts. Islamic Relief

rehabilitated the Qala-e-Adeh Girls School and ensured that it was fully functional again. Students now study a range of subjects and receive a good quality education. Farishta is one of the highest achieving students in her class. She studies math, biology, chemistry, physics, English, Dari, Pashto, and religious studies. Her favorite subject is biology; she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. When asked why, she said, “I want to help people with health problems in my country, wherever they live in Afghanistan.”

Islamic Relief and Education Islamic Relief aims to provide impoverished people and communities with access to education and vocational training - providing a way out of the poverty trap. Islamic Relief has initiated a number of community-based education projects targeting underserved communities. Working directly with the communities ensures that our projects are sustainable and relevant to their needs. Islamic Relief’s education project activities include: • Distribution of school equipment • Educating women in health and hygiene • Organizing supplementary educational programs • Ensuring that sponsored orphans receive an education • Construction of new schools and rehabilitation of war-damaged schools • Providing literacy classes and vocational training courses for adults • Supplying schools and universities with computers, books and resources

Afghanistan • Paghman Education Project • Reconstruction of Teachers Training High School • Rehabilitation of Primary Education Infrastructure

Ghana • Educational Programs for School Children Kosova • Supporting Institutions of Higher Learning • School Rehabilitation Projects

Albania • Hajj Shamia School • Ebu Bekr Community Training Center

Mali • Graduates Training Center • Gourma Rharous Education for All Project

Bangladesh • Community Action Project (providing skills and resources to women in rural areas) • Training local leaders on health and nutrition issues • Vocational Training and Employment Support Services

Palestinian Territories • Rafah Educational Enhancement Center • School Bags for Needy Children • Al-Azhar Educational Institute Expansion • Deir El Balah Educational Enhancement Center • Jabalila Education Enhancement Center • Maghazi Education Enhancement Center

Egypt • Early Intervention and Rehabilitation Center

Sudan • Adult Literacy • School for the Hearing Impaired

Partnership | Spring 2007

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Bridging the Education Gap Feature

Islamic Relief Turns Its Focus Towards Improving Education in Ghana

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n the surface, the country of Ghana can appear to be two different nations altogether. One nation is filled with tremendous resources, high literacy, and economic prosperity while another is afflicted with high poverty, chronic illness and lack of access to basic needs and higher education. Although both communities co-exist, they do so with staggering levels of disparity. With a population of over 21 million, Ghana is located in West Africa bordering Burkina Faso, Togo, and the Ivory Coast and near both Mali and Niger. It was the first black African country to gain independence from colonial rule and is viewed as a model for political and economic reform in Africa. With an abundance of natural resources, its largest exports include cocoa, gold, and timber. Unfortunately, this has not been enough to curb the vast poverty that exists in parts of Ghana, particularly among its rural population. As many as 70 percent of the needy in Ghana live in rural areas with little access to resources such as clean, drinkable water, social services, and electricity. Almost 45 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day and over 78 percent live on less than $2 a day. Due to an increased population and lack of resources such as fertilizer and enhanced farming skills, farmland has suffered from over-cultivation and has continued to deteriorate, threatening farmers’ livelihoods. Illness has also plagued Ghana, particularly its children. Malaria, acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, malnutrition, and measles are the top five leading killer diseases of children in the country. Hard hitting poverty, lack of income, and illnesses has made access to education in Ghana an ever more pressing need. Islamic Relief is helping bridge the disparities that exist between the rich and the poor in Ghana by helping to create improved access to education and training for those living in the most impoverished and underserved areas. Through our partnership with Ghana Islamic Society, Islamic Relief has helped sponsor projects

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designed to create a better future for the people of Ghana, one bright with hope and opportunity. The Ghana Islamic Society for Education and Reformation operates Islamic Relief funded schools in low-income and povertystricken areas, targeting all age groups and preparing students for a university education. Affordable tuition and an admissions policy that emphasizes diversity provides an easy access to the program for the local population. The projects, which also include a low cost medical center that treats patients even if they cannot afford to pay, have received high praise and respect from the community, including from the Vice President of Ghana. The government has even donated land to continue and expand new and existing projects. A governing board comprised of people from diverse backgrounds and occupations helps initiate projects and evaluates performance results. Educators plan and test their curriculum in order to monitor

progress. The result has been establishing a growing network of schools with a high reputation that teaches students both values and academics. Islamic Relief USA’s founder, Dr. Ahmed El Bendary, has visited the region on three separate occasions dating back to 1999 and helped establish the partnership between Islamic Relief and the Ghana Islamic Society for Education and Reformation. He observed the disparity between the rich and the poor in Ghana and hoped that Islamic Relief could help bring about awareness and action on behalf of the community. “On my first trip to Ghana,” said El Bendary, “I attended a dinner with local community leaders and in a very short period of time, they became involved in helping to establish a local high school.” He stressed the importance of not only helping those in need, but empowering the community to become self-sufficient. “You start the project, plant the seeds and help the community help themselves.”


Events

MOVING FORWARD, HONORING THE PAST Memorial Site Pays Homage to Those Lost in 2004 Tsunami

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t’s been more than two years since the tragic tsunami struck the coast of Indonesia, killing 170,000 people in Aceh, leaving 500,000 people without homes, and devastating the infrastructure in the region. Islamic Relief responded to this emergency in Banda Aceh, Indonesia on December 27, 2004, the day after the tsunami hit. Since then, Islamic Relief ’s ongoing projects have included building homes, health clinics, schools, and providing water and livelihood support for the people of Aceh. In addition to these projects, Islamic Relief has also constructed a tsunami memorial site in the Meuraxa sub-district of Banda Aceh. The memorial site, developed with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), is

designed to allow survivors to remember and honor family members and friends that died in the tsunami and provide a dignified place for the deceased. The site has been visited by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and other international dignitaries. At a special inauguration ceremony, President Yudhoyono placed two special “growing stones” on the site, an Acehnese tradition. According to legend, these stones will grow over time along with the memories of those that have passed away. The memorial site provides a final resting place for about 14,000 victims of the tsunami, which represents almost ten percent of the total estimated victims in Aceh, and about half of the estimated dead in the Meuraxa sub-district. Meuraxa was one of the most severely affected areas in

Aceh. Before the tsunami, the Meuraxa sub-district had a population of 31,218; after the tsunami, 84 percent of that population is dead or missing. For many years, Islamic Relief ’s greatest strength has been its ability to work closely with local communities, allowing them to articulate their needs and empowering them to play an active role in achieving their goals. With the help of the local community and the UNDP, Islamic Relief was able to successfully complete this community project which will serve as a monument for years to come. To learn more about this and other projects Islamic Relief has been implementing in Indonesia, please log onto www.irw.org/indonesia.

Partnership | Spring 2007

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Udhiyah | Qurbani Events

family living in such poverty. “I hope my grandsons can have a better life in the future.” Jia and his family were recent recipients of Islamic Relief ’s international Udhiyah/ Qurbani program, an annual meat distribution to commemorate the devotion and commitment of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) to God Almighty. Islamic Relief donors from all over the world donated $3.4 million this past Qurbani season, benefiting 2,172,887 people in need. Islamic Relief distributed Udhiyah/ Qurbani meat in 31 countries worldwide; Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Cambodia, Chad, Chechnya, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kashmir, Kenya, Kosova, Lebanon, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey, USA, and Yemen.

To China With Love Udhiyah/Qurbani Meat Distribution Helps Beneficiaries Worldwide

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eventy-four year old Jia Yulong lives in the small village of Hongyawan in the Gansu province of China. China is the most populous country in the world with over 1.3 billion people. Although it is fast becoming an economic superpower, over 120 million Chinese still live on less than $1 a day. As people in the cities are getting wealthier, people in most rural areas remain in deep poverty, and the income gap between the two continues to grow. Like most people living in rural China, Jia and his family depend on farming to sustain their livelihood. Jia is too old to cultivate the land, and his son and wife, who were his primary help, recently passed away due to illness. 16

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Jia’s family found themselves heavily burdened and deep in poverty. He currently lives with his daughter-in-law and three grandsons in a poorly built cavehouse. The entire family’s income depends on the crops they cultivate, and the amount of crops they cultivate depends on everyone in the family working on the farm. “I’m too old to cultivate,” said Jia, “sometimes I can help them with the housework, but my daughter-in-law and my grandsons are the backbone of this family.” Jia’s grandsons were only able to finish primary school before they were forced to work on the farm to help the family economically. It’s difficult for Jia to see his

Over 25,600 beneficiaries in China, including Jia and his family, received 11 pounds of Qurbani meat. “We couldn’t afford meat before,” said Jia. “Thank you Islamic Relief, for providing this gift, which is really helpful for my family.”


Eid al-Adha Events

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LENDING A HANd U.S. Udhiyah/Qurbani Program Benefits Local People in Need

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his is the second year that Islamic Relief offered its donors an alternative to our annual Udhiyah/ Qurbani program. Recognizing that poverty exists right here in the United States, Islamic Relief donors had the option of helping provide food aid to needy families in the United States during the Islamic holiday. Udhiyah/Qurbani is an Islamic religious practice performed at the time of Eid al-Adha (the 10th day of the Islamic lunar month of Dhu al-Hijjah) involving the slaughtering of an animal; usually a sheep, goat, or cow. The event commemorates the devotion and commitment of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) to God Almighty. Last year, Islamic Relief launched a pilot program to distribute meat to needy

families in the Detroit, Michigan area, one of the poorest large cities in the United States. Approximately 31 percent of the population of Detroit, and 45 percent of its children, live below the poverty line. Participants of the program were elated with the positive results, and this year the program expanded to California, where there are an estimated 360,000 homeless people. With the help of generous donors and volunteers, Islamic Relief distributed a remarkable 30,000 pounds of food during this nationwide effort this year. With distributions in California (Sacramento, Anaheim, and Los Angeles) and Michigan (Detroit), thousands of people in need benefited from this domestic project. In addition to the food aid, children in

Anaheim, CA, were presented with toys. Southern California based charity UPLIFT partnered with Islamic Relief for that effort. “I came because I have kids and I could really use the help,” said beneficiary Shamso, a recent West African immigrant and mother of two. “A lot of people can use the help; most of them are refugees.” Participants not only benefited materially from the distribution, but also got the opportunity to connect with others in similar situations. Shamso added, “This really helps us feel welcome. In this country nobody goes to each others houses. But here people are coming together and speaking the same language. It feels like home.” Christopher, another beneficiary, echoed Shamso’s sentiments. “It is important that there is someone here to help. They identify our needs and it is appreciated. This definitely helps us feel welcome in the community.” “Putting a smile on someone’s face is priceless,” said Munir Iqtish, Islamic Relief ’s lead coordinator for the California distributions. “We always see the hardship of the poor and the needy throughout the world, and we have no problem giving and helping people from poor countries. However, we tend to forget that there are a lot of needy people who live amongst us and need our help.” Islamic Relief would like to thank its donors, volunteers, and partnering organizations who helped make this year’s domestic Udhiyah/Qurbani distribution such a success. We look forward to expanding this project to serve many more people in need next year.

Partnership | Spring 2007

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Domestic Projects

a Break from the Ordinary Students from Dartmouth College Volunteer Their Time to Help Victims of Hurricane Katrina I was very hesitant to make expectations about the trip before I came down here in case they would not be fulfilled. I didn’t want to risk being disappointed, but the trip had gone way above and beyond anything that I could have hoped for. I learned so much about the situation and started to really have a desire to do as much as I possibly could for New Orleans. - Dartmouth College student volunteering with Islamic Relief

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“Working in New Orleans and Baton Rouge has been an extremely enlightening experience for me; I only wish I could do more for people,” said Dartmouth student Winnifred Lewis. “All the destroyed houses and the many trailer parks were lifechanging sights. Being here allowed me to not only see and appreciate the depths of the problems here, but it also allowed me to feel empowered in that we can change this.”

inter and spring breaks for college students are notoriously known for their days of carefree relaxing, winding down after finals, and nightly partying. But instead of the expected recess of lounging and idleness, two groups of Dartmouth students headed down to the Hurricane Katrina-devastated areas of Louisiana to assist Islamic Relief in its relief and recovery projects in the Gulf Coast.

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On their first day in New Orleans, the students received a thorough tour of the devastation in the Lower Ninth Ward and other parts of the city. The student volunteers helped Islamic Relief feed the poor and those living in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailer parks, distribute bedroom and kitchen sets to evacuees, sort, provide, and distribute groceries in a warehouse, among other activities.

For about two weeks during winter break this past December, 14 Dartmouth College students took the long journey from New Hampshire to Louisiana to do their part in assisting in the aid efforts.

“I’m glad that we did various projects that forced us to interact with the people we came to help because it was through these that we were able to touch people and be touched by them,” said Amara Ugboaja.

Spring 2007 | Partnership

Another student added, “I came down here to gain perspective on the meaning of suffering and calamity. There is certainly personal turmoil we endure, but witnessing others’ suffering allows us to learn gratitude.” Volunteers have been the backbone of Islamic Relief ’s relief efforts in the Hurricane Katrina-affected areas. This experience not only provides volunteers the opportunity to help their fellow Americans in need, but also allows them to leave with a better understanding of the needs of others and strengthens their desire to do more to help within their own local communities. “This trip has given me the opportunity to help for two weeks, but it has also given me the opportunity to learn and acquire the skills to help more in the future,” said Sasha Otero. Expressing the sentiment of many volunteers after such a unique lifetime experience, Alim Shaikh said, “All the work we’ve done here has been such an incredible and moving experience, I cannot help but want to come back here in the near future.”


Dismantling Dismay

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he costliest natural disaster in our country’s history, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005 as far as 100 miles from the storm’s center. Over 1,800 people lost their lives and more than a million were displaced. The damage and recovery cost from the storm is estimated at over $81 billion. It was rated the highest level hurricane - Category 5, and some suggest we re-rate it as a Category 6 - as severe, unrelenting winds and rains washed away entire buildings, houses, boats, cars, people and animals. But did it also wash away our memories? It’s been nearly two years since the hurricane struck the Gulf Coast, but you wouldn’t know that if you visited the area today. The chaos and destruction of that tragic storm, which destroyed vast areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, seemed to leave the Gulf Coast eerily frozen in time. The once lively and energetic neighborhoods that bustled with the playful laughter of children, are now ghost towns. Grocery stores remain boarded up, still yet to be reopened. Skeleton houses now stand where

homes once resided. The radiant Cajun culture of the Gulf Coast has been drained of its color. It’s amazing to think that after many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) abandoned the area, those few, proud Americans still living amongst the devastation, have yet to abandon hope. Islamic Relief immediately responded to the needs of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and to date, remains one of the few NGOs left in the area. Islamic Relief is committed to implementing relief projects, which now focuses on working in the affected areas of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana. With full-time staff in Baton Rouge, Islamic Relief is able to carry out monthly food, clothing, and household items distributions throughout the Gulf Coast region. In addition to regular aid distributions, Islamic Relief holds “Dismantling Dismay,” a monthly distribution of hot meals, hygiene kits, and care packages to families in need

Domestic Projects

Nearly Two Years After Hurricane Katrina, Islamic Relief Continues to Help Rebuild Lives in the Gulf Coast

which occurs on the last Sunday of each month. Families assisted by the monthly “Dismantling Dismay” events are victims of Hurricane Katrina who have been left dependent on humanitarian aid to survive. Additionally, Islamic Relief regularly assists many hurricane victims with various programs regarding specific needs and requests they may have. This past February, Islamic Relief sponsored 30 children from the Renaissance Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) site to attend a New Orleans Hornets basketball game. While Islamic Relief continues to assist Gulf Coast residents in need, there is still a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done. Thousands of residents are still in need of assistance. It’s easier than ever to help. Volunteer your time. Donate to the recovery efforts. Keep those in need in your prayers and in your memories. For more information on Islamic Relief ’s work in the Gulf Coast, please log on to www.irw.org/katrina.

Partnership | Spring 2007

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MAKING MALARIA HISTORY Islamic Relief Participates in President’s Malaria Initiative at White House

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have the most confidence in religious organizations, exceeding even their faith in their own healthcare systems. It also confirmed that, with the exception of a small handful of countries, communities are more worried about malaria in their midst than HIV/AIDS. However, despite this concern, only 10-59 percent of households, depending on the country, have access to life-protecting bed net or have been educated on its necessity in saving lives. In addition to protecting people from contracting preventable diseases like malaria, the most important development goal for people in Africa - after reducing poverty and hunger - was to create more jobs. Islamic Relief ’s program to help local communities procure nets is tackling the two critical and linked issues of creating employment and increasing access to nets. Islamic Relief staff in Washington, DC will be following up with Ambassador Randall Tobias of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to discuss further collaborations.

“In malaria-prone regions, people look first to their churches, mosques or synagogues for help.”

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hese were the words of First Lady Laura Bush on February 15, 2007 at the White House conference on Malaria. Islamic Relief was privileged to be an invited participant at the Compassion in Action Roundtable, receiving updates on the President’s Malaria Initiative launched in June 2005. As the White House finds itself entering the third and final phase of work, they will be expanding their reach into the last eight of 15 countries they have targeted in Africa to combat the preventable and treatable disease of malaria, with the help of

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More and more, organizations around the world are beginning to realize how devastating an epidemic malaria is: malaria kills more than a million people per year; 90 percent of those who die are in Africa; and nearly a half-billion people a year are afflicted by the disease. In collaboration with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, Islamic Relief is working towards fighting this disease. As little as $10 can save a life by providing a bed net and malaria treatment for one person in Africa.

non-governmental organizations (NGOs), faith-based and community groups, and the private sector. As a group, the collective goal is to prevent and treat malaria in 12.5 million people in Africa by training local health care workers. Unlike many other NGOs, Islamic Relief has the advantage of having a preexisting relationship with many of the African communities - thus gaining local credibility and trust - and the ability to mobilize volunteers on the ground.

- First Lady Laura Bush

The Gallup World Poll, also attending the event, found that among eight social and political institutions, Sub-Saharan Africans

For more information on Islamic Relief ’s projects on malaria, please log onto www.irw.org/malaria.

People of faith have always reached out to their neighbors in need. They’ve fed the hungry, cared for the neglected and healed the sick. They do these things not for their own benefit, but guided by the belief that every human life has value and dignity. By working together, and coordinating with the President’s Malaria Initiative and other initiatives, people of faith can now help save millions of lives from malaria.


Islamic Relief and UN World Food Program Sign Landmark Agreement for Increased Cooperation

News

STRENGTHENING A PARTNERSHIP region of Sudan, among many others. As the “food aid arm” of the United Nations, the WFP helps feed over 90 million people per year worldwide, including 58 million children. With an annual budget exceeding $3 billion and a worldwide staff of more than 10,000 working in 82 countries, the WFP assists victims of natural disasters, refugees, IDPs, AIDS orphans and many others through its programs.

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ith a long history of working in the past on the shared goals of alleviating poverty, Islamic Relief and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) solidified and formalized that relationship recently in signing a landmark agreement. In December 2006, Islamic Relief Worldwide and the WFP announced the expanded collaboration between the two organizations’ responses to humanitarian emergencies and efficient delivery of food aid to the needy. In a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the two aid agencies outlined the areas of cooperation and the terms of the agreement. The MOU stipulates that cooperation will be all-encompassing, covering all sectors of activities carried out by both organizations such as emergency operations and long-term projects. On the WFP website, Islamic Relief is listed as one of only 16 non-governmental

organizations worldwide that have signed such a memorandum. “I am very happy with this formalization of our relationship, as the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding brings this successful cooperation to the limelight,” said Dr. Hany El Banna, President of Islamic Relief Worldwide. WFP Executive Director James Morris said, “This is a team that can make a real difference to the lives of millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world. … Strengthening our relationship in this way is the logical next step.” For over a decade, Islamic Relief and the WFP have jointly worked to serve people in need in many conflict-ridden areas across the globe. These collaborated efforts have included assisting Chechen refugees, victims of the South Asia earthquake, and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Darfur

More than half of the 90 million beneficiaries of the WFP program are in Muslim-majority parts of the world. “Whether it is in Sudan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, or the occupied Palestinian territories, we rely heavily on our colleagues in organizations like Islamic Relief because of their strong contacts in the Muslim world,” said Morris. As a member of the U.N. Economic and Social Council, Islamic Relief has been committed to working with partners to provide increased aid in the most efficient manner. This MOU is a major achievement and illustrates the impact of organizations working together to help the needy. This agreement “opens up opportunities for even more intensive cooperation - both in terms of program and implementation and in terms of policy-level engagement,” said El Banna. “As such, this Memorandum of Understanding offers new opportunities to further improve the way in which we serve the world’s poorest communities and our ability to empower them to lift themselves out of poverty.”

Islamic Relief Joins the WFP in Support of the McGovern-Dole Global School Feeding Program A historic legislation was introduced into Congress on March 21, calling for increased funding for the George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, named after the former Senators. The program reaches nearly 3 million of the more than 110 million school-aged

children who suffer from hunger everyday. The program works in poor countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chad, and Guinea Bissau. Islamic Relief supports the expansion of this important program, and encourages our donors to help out in any way possible.

Take Action: • Write letters to a Member of Congress asking them to support this program • Sign the Friends of the World Food Program’s online petition • Contact Friends of the World Food Program to get involved www.friendsofwfp.org

Partnership | Spring 2007

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Islamic Relief Sponsor Visits Orphan in Bangladesh

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azia Ahmed started her first Islamic Relief orphan sponsorship in 2004 after hearing about it through a fund-raiser. A college student, Nazia was unsure if she could afford the sponsorship but realized that, at a little over $1 per day, sponsoring an orphan was less than the average cup of coffee. Little did she know then, one year later that she would be face to face with the very orphan she had been sponsoring. Nazia’s sponsored orphan, Rahid Khan was 6 years old when his father passed away from heart failure. Since then, he has lived with his mother and two sisters in a one room house that doubles as the family room and kitchen. After signing up for the program, Nazia received an initial Biodata Report from Islamic Relief that contained a picture and general information about the orphan. She also receives annual Progress Reports that contain more pictures and details about her sponsorship as well as letters and drawings from her orphan. Islamic Relief gives all donors the option of sending gifts, writing letters or even visiting their sponsored orphan, just like Nazia did. In 2006, while Nazia was visiting her native Bangladesh, she arranged with Islamic Relief to meet with 10-year-old Rahid. “I saw him as I was walking down the hall in his little shorts. When he saw me, he saluted me and called me big sister,” she said. Rahid was naturally shy and quiet. Nazia showed him the letters and drawings he had made for her that she received in her orphan updates. Upon seeing them he began to open up by telling her he wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Rahid’s mother was also present at the meeting and Nazia was able to ask her directly about

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the money she sends. She told Nazia, “Not only does your money take care of my son, but it takes care of the whole family.” Orphan sponsorships primarily help take care of the orphan’s food, health, and educational needs but sometimes also serve as a supplementary income for the family as a whole. After the meeting, Nazia was pleasantly reassured. “I know now that the money I give goes straight to them, it’s real.” When she returned home she shared her experience with others. “Look it worked, here’s my orphan!” she told them. Spreading the word about orphan sponsorships, Nazia inspired 30 people in her community to sign up. Nazia says she would definitely recommend Islamic Relief ’s orphan sponsorship to others. “I would give this program a 5 out of 5…it’s so real to me. And the fact that you’re a four star charity through Charity Navigator, I know that the money is going to where it needs to go.” She plans to visit Rahid again the next time she is in Bangladesh. In the meantime the two of them will be in touch through the reports she receives. “Every time I get his pictures, I get all emotional.” With the generous support of donors like Nazia, Islamic Relief is able to provide support to over 20,000 orphans worldwide in 20 different countries. As little as $33 per month can support an orphan and their family making orphan sponsorship an affordable way to provide an orphan in need with basic necessities as well as provide hope when it is often lost. To sponsor an orphan, call us toll-free today at (888) 479-4968.


Orphans

Helping An Orphan Has Never Been Easier •

As little as $33 per month can provide for an orphan’s food, health, and educational needs. Islamic Relief donors currently sponsor over 20,000 orphans and their families (100,000 beneficiaries) in 20 different countries. Sponsors receive annual progress report with pictures and updates on the orphan’s situation. Sponsors have the option to visit, send gifts or donate extra monetary assistance to their orphan. Want to stretch your money and reach even more orphans? The Orphan General Fund allows you to support orphan projects around the world.

Partnership | Spring 2007

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PO Box 5640, Buena Park, CA 90622 | www.irw.org | Tax ID# 95-4453134

For four years in a row, Islamic Relief USA has been recognized as a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator, its highest rating. Of the 5,131 charities evaluated by Charity Navigator, only 4% have received this prestigious distinction.

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Experiencing Education Darfur, Sudan A Worldwide Leader in Alleviating Poverty the official newsletter of Islamic Relief Spring 2007 Natural...

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