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VOLUME 2 | ISSUE 5 | APRIL 2013


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Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Among the best deeds are to feed the poor and the deserving and to greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know.”

On a cold January afternoon, with no food and money for transport, Zain and Malik began their journey west, on foot. Setting out from the east end, they had no idea about the place they were heading – “all we knew was that there was a mosque and that we could get some help”’. Accustomed to long distances, Zain said that he suffered ankle problems from walking so much. “We’ve walked longer distances,” he said. “Being hungry, its better to go and find food than to ask for money on the streets and be refused.” And with that, they set off on their journey. Meanwhile, in a small kitchen in Westbourne Park, the Muslim Aid team was busy preparing for the guests that would soon arrive. As the first night of their fortnightly Soup Kitchens* at AlManaar Mosque, they were excited but anxious about how many would show. The large cooking pot was taken out to prepare a hot meal of spaghetti bolognese and loaves of bread were sliced. Opening their doors at 6pm, they eagerly received their guests.

Cover Photo: Mary Lynn receives a Keep Warm Kit at the St. James-the-Less Church Pensioners Club, Bethnal Green, London

By this time, Zain and Malik had walked for five hours to get to the Mosque where they were finally able to have the meal that they had come so far to enjoy.

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Finishing their food, they stayed for tea, and it was then that I learned of Zain’s story. Originally a teacher in his native land, Algeria, he had moved to the UK to find work, but to no avail - “if my students could see me now, they wouldn’t believe the situation I am in”, he said. He lifted his hands to show me how coarse and dirty they had become from washing cars to make pocket money for food. “Praise be to God, you never know where you will end up”. And such is the situation for 4.7 million more in the UK, who struggle to put food on their tables. Zain’s story was one amongst many I had heard that night. Others I had heard through Linda, and also Paul who was sleeping rough underneath the nearby bridge. But amidst the struggle, it was at the Soup Kitchen that they could find, in addition to food, a warm community spirit. *The Soup Kitchen is part of Muslim Aid’s Feed the Hungry Campaign and is held fortnightly at the Al-Maanar Mosque. Check out our video here: http://tinyurl.com/crvyvtk

THE LONG ROAD TO COMFORT BY OMAR HERNANDEZ

By Nur Hannah Wan


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In partnership with the National Zakat Foundation, Muslim Aid held its annual Mosque Appreciation dinner, in recognition of years of continued support from various mosques across the UK. Held in Manchester, Birmingham and London, all events featured a special award and certificate giving ceremony in acknowledgement of support towards various campaigns, including emergency appeals for Burma, Syria and Gaza.

TOYNBEE HALL’S MOHAMMED HANDS JOANNE HER NEW KETTLE

As spring begins and we say goodbye to the unusually cold winter season, our Warm Hearts Winter Campaign comes to an end. Raising almost £50,000 since its launch last December, we were able to distribute over 700 Keep Warm Kits to both the homeless and elderly. We also supported Shelter UK to provide advice and emergency funds to 1,500 homeless people. Working in partnership with homeless and elderly organisations, to include Streetlytes, Toynbee Hall and Silk Court Care Home, we managed to reach thousands of vulnerable people affected by the bitter weather last season. For Joanne, a regular user of Toynbee Hall’s Older People’s Services, the campaign

restored her hope in people - “I’m surprised that people still care about us,” she said, weeping as she held her new flask, kettle and heater. “Sometimes we think that people don’t care”. Our campaign did not just stop in the UK. We extended our support with blankets and mattresses to people suffering from the cold wave in Bangladesh and to Syrian refugees living without the basics to keep them warm.We were so inspired by your generous support, it encouraged us to work harder and help more of the elderly and homeless this winter. So, at Muslim Aid we’d like to wish a warm heart-felt thank you to everyone that made this all possible.

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MOSQUE APPRECIATION, WALTHAMSTOW

Feedback was then presented, highlighting achievements made and the importance of a continued relationship with mosques in the mission towards alleviating poverty and suffering around the world. In London, awards were presented to the

following mosques: Balham & Tooting Islamic Centre, Croydon Mosque & Islamic Centre, East London Mosque & London Islamic Centre, Noor Ul Islam Mosque and the UK Islamic Mission.

FUNDRAISER NEPA GIVES A SPEECH

Muslim Aid were invited as the ‘charity of choice’ at the Queen Mary University Islamic Society (QMISOC) sisters fundraising event. The event took place at the Waterlilly in east London and saw a turn out of 250 women who supported through donations and pledges, our UK projects. Around £7,000 was raised at this special event. We would like to say thank you to everyone that donated and to the QMISOC for their great support.


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At first glance you could mistake the women at Sheffield’s ‘Conversation Club’ as ordinary women. As they sat chatting, the room was filled with laughter and warmth, with food being cooked in an open kitchen and children playing in the background. They are refugees. The very women, with courage in their heart, fled the land they once called home, leaving everything behind. As part of a monitoring visit, I went to visit the Northern Refugee Centre. Some of its services have been funded by Muslim Aid, such as the Conversation Club and the women’s drop in session, held twice a week for a free advice service on issues such as asylum, housing, domestic violence and trafficking. Sadly, because of Government cuts, many centres have lost funding to offer support for refugees who often feel extremely isolated and afraid when they first arrive. Activities at the sessions range from English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), IT skills and business courses – as part of an integration programme. The Conversation Club is also a place where women get together to improve their English and support one another during this very stressful period in their lives. For many, the club is their home and the people are family. The only family they currently have. Aziza came from Iran in 2007. She has been waiting 7 years for a decision on her case. At the centre she gets food and support. “The volunteers at the centre help me fill in important paper work for me to get by, everyone is my

FINDING STRENGTH BY OMAR HERNANDEZ

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family here.” Aziza explained to me she is slowly learning to read and write English. As I looked around I noticed a woman smiling at me. Her eyes defied her smile however, as they looked weary. “This place is good for my mind and soul. The centre is a blessing,” explained Sultana Ahmed from Iraq. She fled the conflict 5 years ago with her husband and only one of her 3 sons. Sultana explained in broken English, how happy she was to be learning skills such as sewing and crafts and more importantly improving her English skills. But she sorely misses Iraq and explained with a heavy sadness how difficult it has become to get in touch with her two sons. A lot of the women were in their late 50’s. I couldn’t even begin to imagine if my mother, the same age group as these women, was faced with the predicament of leaving family, friends and a livelihood for a safer life. Every story echoed struggle and pain. Some are given permission to stay but others have been waiting for a decision on their case for years. Just as I was leaving the centre, Aziza unexpectedly rushed over to me and tapped my shoulder, “please I just want to tell you before you go, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all of you at Muslim Aid,” she said tearily. I couldn’t help thinking, ‘No, thank you, Aziza, for showing me what humility and struggle really mean’.

By Amina Rafique


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This year’s challenges will take participants to two of the UK’s highest peaks, Ben Nevis and Snowdonia. In an effort to raise money for ‘Water Projects in Africa’ and ‘Shelter for Burma’, we are challenging the brave and the bold to climb Britain’s highest peaks to raise money for charity and to help vulnerable people in need of shelter and access to clean water for safer and healthier lives. Due to the popularity of our challenges, Snowdonia has already sold out. If you are still up for the challenge there’s still time to join our Ben Nevis trek. For more information please call 0207 377 4200 or visit www.muslimaid.org

January 4th saw Muslim Aid Manchester team up with Cornerstone Day Centre, an organisation that deals with social issues, including homelessness, and sees around 90 client visits a day. With a team of dedicated staff and volunteers, Muslim Aid distributed essential winter items such as gloves, sleeping bags, scarves and hats that would help bring warmth during the colder months. The team commented on the benefits of seeing the fruits of their labour, whilst clients expressed their

SYRIA Y EMERGENC APPEAL A FUNDRAISER CLIMBS BEN NEVIS

VOLUNTEERS HELP THE HOMELESS

gratitude in having received the support throughout winter.


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EAGER VOLUNTEERS AT AN MA PRISON MENTORSHIP INDUCTION DAY

“There are two busy places in a prison,” said Imam Kabir of HMP Wormwood Scrubs. “One is the gym, the other is the chaplaincy”. Emphaising the importance of support from the Muslim community, Imam Kabir was part of the chaplaincy that had delivered a talk at head quarters about mentoring prisoners as part of Muslim Aid’s Prisoners Project.

CHALLNEY GIRLS SCHOOL RAISE OVER £3,000

Congratulations and a special thank you to the girls at Challney High School, Luton, for raising over £3,000 for our Gaza Appeal. As part of the school’s charity week in February, the girls got creative and took on board a number of activities, from offering henna services, selling food, cleaning classrooms, and raffles, all in aid of the people of Gaza. Interested in fundraising? call Muslim Aid’s volunteer dept. on 020 7377 4200

Making reference to the Prophet’s (PBUH) love of seclusion, Imam Kabir spoke about a prisoner’s time in isolation as an opportunity for seeking knowledge and guidance. With around 12,000 Muslims currently within the UK prison system, he went on to discuss how the community can help to facilitate their reformation: “Do we blame the prisoners? Do we blame their families? Or do we blame ourselves for not giving enough support?” Through the prison chaplaincy, he spoke

of how the community can volunteer by offering mentorship skills, attending jummah prayers, teaching Quran and sharing knowledge during visits, or donating items that prisoners can make use of, such as prayer mats, books and prayer garments. He then highlighted the first 24-hours after a prisoner’s release as the time that support was needed the most – “it is the lack of community spirit outside that is the reason why they are reoffending”. Charlie Ryder, outreach worker from HMP Wormwood Scrubs ended the night with an important message: “It is important to see the good in a person,” he said. “Our aim is to help a prisoner become the person that they were meant to be”. Interested in becoming a mentor? visit www.muslimaid.org or call UK Programmes on 0207 377 4200


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“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor; for Allah can best protect both.” [ Al-Qur’an, Surah al-Nisa:135 ]

UTE PREPARES FOR A BUSY DAY AT WORK AS MA EMERGENCY PROGRAMME OFFICER

Ute Theobald, Emergency Programme Officer moved to England after working overseas with different NGOs. In this issue, she talks about the differences between work on and off the field.

satisfying, as I know how hard they have to work to get things done on the ground.

Tell me a bit about yourself?

When working in the field, the hardest part is probably dealing with security issues. Things are changing all the time and you need to be able to adjust and be flexible to deal with a certain amount of stress.

I joined Muslim Aid last year in March as Programme Emergency Officer. Before that I worked overseas with NGOs based in Sudan, South Sudan and Haiti. I enjoyed working overseas but I wanted to have more stability in my life so decided to work in England for a while. What do you enjoy most about what you do? My current role is more about quality control and supporting field offices. I am trying to make life easier for field offices and to support them in their work as much as I can. That alone is already

What is the easiest and hardest part of your job?

The easiest part is probably that I enjoy working with the team here that makes work really pleasant and worthwhile. What has been your most memorable moment at Muslim Aid? There is not only one specific memorable moment for me. I enjoy working with my colleagues at Muslim Aid and I am grateful for the support I get from them.


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Why are we implementing a mangrove project in Indonesia?

In March, our Head of International Programmes, Imran Madden, travelled to Cambodia and Indonesia to monitor the progress of our work out there. Tell us about your visit? The trip was to essentially look at our programmes in both countries and to see where our priorities can be shifted for further impact. It was also an opportunity to thank our staff out there for their hard work. Both field offices have implemented some useful projects in the past, especially ones that addressed Tsunami affected communities in Bandah Aceh. There has been a general shift away from Tsunami help and the community are back on their feet. However, the east of Indonesia is really low in the development index and needs help. We are therefore shifting our programmes to the east. In Cambodia, the Government has passed a historic settlement with Muslim communities and given them 2 million hectres of land which will eventually go into their ownership. We can therefore provide assistance in re-building those villages with education, WASH and health programmes for example.

Mangroves are the fastest disappearing ecosystem on the planet because they are found in coastal areas that are often over populated. We need to protect these environments not just for ecological reasons but to protect the livelihoods of people in those communities. Many mangroves have been cut away which has been an ecological and economic disaster. Many of the water life, including fishes and crabs, have disappered, which has been detrimental for local fishermen. We have planted 13,500 mangroves to help encourage fishes and shellfish to come back and also to reduce the risk of

soil erosion and the impact of storms. What impact have the programmes made on the lives of our beneficiaries? It’s a range of immediate impact; from digging a well where people have access to clean water for their crops and personal use to long-term impacts. Our microfinance projects have benefited people through an upward spiral of change. If people are earning money they are more likely to send their kids to school. They then get a qualification and subsequently a better job. That help might mean a familly of 6 or 7 are lifted out of poverty. It’s also about the intervention of health care at the right

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time which can be a matter of life and death. Our mother and child health clinics address urgent health care needs. I don’t think you can have a bigger impact than that. What was the most memorable part of your trip you would like to share with us? It was seeing people in real abject poverty but receiving assistance, so encouraging to witness. One particular blind boy, who is a Rainbow Family sponsored child, sang a song of gratitude for being taken care of. You think: subhan’Allah, for a child to sing something so emotional was very touching.

MA’S IMRAN, STANDS AT A MANGROVE PLANTATION IN INDONESIA, WHICH HILL HELP THE LIVLIHOODS OF MANY IN THE COMMUNITY


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In Angunachchi, where villagers struggle to survive on very low wages, people were delighted to receive their Aqiqah gift, which allowed them to enjoy a healthy and nutritious meal. Last year, around 200 Aqiqahs were carried out across 5 countries worldwide. To take part in Muslim Aid’s Aqiqah programme and extend the blessings of your new-born to those in need, visit muslimaid.org In February this year, villagers from Angunachchi, Sri Lanka, took part in the joyous celebration of a new born, by enjoying meat served as part of Muslim Aid’s Aqiqah Programme. Through the Islamic tradition, which was practised by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions, the birth of a child is announced through Aqiqah. This involves the slaughter of an animal whose meat is then served amongst family, friends and those around the world who are less fortunate.

VILLAGERS RECEIVE A NEW WATER TANK

SRI LANKA CELEBRATES AQIQAH WITH MA

Earlier this year, Muslim Aid Iraq completed the construction of a water tank in a village for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Duhok, northern Iraq. Initially covered in rust and in very poor condition, the previous water tank was unsuitable for storing clean water and the cause of serious health problems. Providing safe drinking water to families in need, the water tank has been successful in serving 152 people, thus improving the overall health within the village.

MA’S SHERIN DISTRIBUTES GLASSES

Muslim Aid have supported over 3,000 children in the Gaza Strip with sight tests, some receiving optical glasses and those with more serious cases being referred for surgical or medical treatment.With poor eye-sight affecting a child’s performance in the classroom, this support will help students to improve and reach their full potential.


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250 children from different schools around Bangladesh were trained to deliver hygiene and sanitation awareness for their communities, peers and family. As part of Muslim Aid’s programme, ‘Creating Healthier Environments’, these ‘student Brigades’, as they are known, will serve as a gateway between their schools and communities advocating

In December 2012, more than 300,000 people were affected in 15 districts in Sri Lanka due to floods and landslides in many parts of the island. Many of those

awareness and change on hygiene and sanitation. In addition, Muslim Aid Bangladesh constructed water and sanitation facilities for 30 schools and repaired existing facilities in 26 schools. So far this project has benefitted over 75,000 students from 250 schools and 750 school teachers.

who were displaced due to the weather have returned to their homes. However, some are still dependent on the assistance given to them, as life is slowly getting back in order. Muslim Aid Sri Lanka distributed food and non-food items to those affected, which included: 1000 packs of dry rations, 400 packs of non-food items (mats, bed sheets, new clothes, towels) and purified water. A further 500 affected persons received cooked meals.

870 million people worldwide are chronically hungry and severely undernourished. Constant hunger weakens the immune system and makes the poor, especially women and children, more vulnerable to diseases and infections. The silent killers. We can help to prevent this.

Your £3 month can make a difference between life and death.

delighted to attend a brand new school, rather than their dilapidated hut that they were used to. The building was declared open and handed over to the community by the Country Director of MASL, whilst members of the community gathered in celebration. In line with Muslim Aid’s efforts to “provide education for all”, (Millennium Development Goal 2) its seventh school has been established in Hijrapuram, Mulativu. On February 1, 2013, 38 preschool children and their teachers were

During the ceremony, distinguished invitees distributed stationary items amongst pre-school students, in preparation for their fresh start at their brand new school.

ACT

NOW PO Box 3, London, E1 1WP | Charity Reg No. 295224


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For 50 year old Masnidar from the Malak district of West Sumatera, Indonesia, her daily routine used to be an inconvenient 800 meter trek to fetch water for washing and cooking. Masindar used to even collect rainwater for backup supplies and cut across the jungle to reach the river in order to wash clothes. Since Muslim Aid installed a water pipeline 30 metres from her house, a new lease of life has been

As part of the International Winter Campaign, Muslim Aid have distributed Keep Warm Kits for Syrian refugees in the Alzarqa, Alrusseifa and Alhussein camp in Jordan. Around 150 families were given

A LIFE LINE FOR MASINDAR

unleashed for scores of villagers including Masinder herself. If you are interested in supporting our Dig A Well project please visit www. muslimaid.org for further information.

mattresses, blankets and pillows to help them keep warm and safe during the cold winter. As the Middle East faced one of its coldest winters in decades, hundreds of refugees crossing the border into Jordan every day, left without any belongings. Earlier this year, heavy snow and rain flooded some camps. Through Muslim Aid’s International Winter campaign, Keep Warm Kits were distributed to help families suffering from the bitter cold. Meanwhile in Bangladesh 10,000 blankets were distributed for poor families affected by the cold in 11 districts.

PEOPLE AFFECTED BY THE COLD WAVE, BANGLADESH, RECEIVE 10,000 BLANKETS

These were Lalmonirhat, Dinajpur, Bogra, Sirajganj, Manikganj, Gaibandha, Jamalpur, Netrakona, Kurigram Nilfamari and Sylhet. During the winter season, Bangladesh experienced an unusually extreme cold wave, where temperatures fell below average. Poor communities in the north and southwest part of the region

were mostly affected by the cold winds and fog, causing respiratory illnesses, cold related diseases and in some cases, death. Muslim Aid’s International Winter campaign addresses the effects felt by the cold weather by distributing clothes, blankets and other warm items.


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Muslim Aid is working towards the UN Millennium Development Goals to halve the number of people in the world without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. What are the implications of dirty water and inadequate sanitation facilities? Community members in Kuala Langsa, East Aceh have become proud trainees of a Muslim Aid workshop that will help them to sustain and preserve 13,500 mangroves. With over 50 trainees in attendance, the workshop will help them to understand and find better ways to sustain and preserve the new trees that have been planted by MA Indonesia. In a country that suffers various natural disasters, mangroves hold soil together and act as natural barriers, protecting vulnerable coastlines from wave action and shielding inland areas from storms. During Asia’s Tsunami disaster in 2005, the death toll was significantly lower in areas with dense mangrove, compared to those without similar vegetation. MAI’s Country Director has emphasised the importance of this project, which holds enormous long-term benefits for the community as well as the environment as a whole.

Water is a source of life, yet over 1/6th of the world’s population lack access to safe drinking water. A further 2.5

Without access to clean water and sanitation facilities, disease and poverty are inevitable and a community’s ability to flourish and grow becomes impossible. Drinking, cooking and cleaning with contaminated water leads to diseases that can be fatal. Around 700,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by dirty water and poor sanitation; that’s almost 2,000 every day.

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What is Muslim Aid doing in the area of WASH? Muslim Aid has been working towards providing people with access to clean water and sanitation. This includes the building of water wells, latrines and wash basins, and providing hygiene training and education, from Sri Lanka to the Gaza Strip. Earlier this year, Muslim Aid completed work in Al-Muqdadiya, Iraq, by providing around 2,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) with a water filtration system. As a major health concern in Iraq, the new water source means villagers will no longer need to utilise the river water - a source of harmful water-borne diseases.

What is the importance of WASH? Improvements to water and sanitation facilities, paired with health and hygiene awareness initiatives, are beneficial towards alleviating poverty. With improved access to clean water, the spread of infectious disease is reduced, and therefore, the number of deaths. BOYS PLAY BEFORE A MANGROVE PLANTATION, EAST ACEH

billion, including 1 billion children, live without basic sanitation.

With less illness, children are able to attend school; people are healthy enough to work and earn a living for their families. Having local water and sanitation facilities means that time usually spent collecting water is saved, which increases time available for school, work or leisure. For women and young children, they are also spared the task of travelling to remote, secluded areas that can be unsafe.

MA CONSTRUCTS ONE OF MANY WELLS IN SRI LANKA


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NURZAHAN WORKING HARD AT SCHOOL

Working as a day labourer, and the sole income earner of the household, NurZahan’s father was already struggling to provide for his large family of seven. NurZahan would go to school most days without food, which had a great impact on her concentration and schoolwork. As the only family member that attended school, NurZahan’s education had become an expense that they would have to do without. Though unhappy with the decision, she left school to work and help support her family. Upon meeting an old school friend, NurZahan heard about Muslim Aid’s School Feeding Programme whereby students were being provided with the essential vitamins and nutrients that most lack in their daily diets – she was convinced that this would be her SYRIAN REFUGEE CHILDREN RECEIVE ITEMS FOR ENROLLMENT AT SCHOOL, JORDAN

ticket to regaining her education and after pleading with her mother, was eventually allowed back to school. With higher energy levels, NurZahan had improved her grades and her tutors have high hopes for her upcoming PSC examinations. Recently, the Government of Bangladesh signed an agreement with Muslim Aid to supply over 93,000 High Energy Biscuits to over 400 primary schools in the Patuakhali District. Through the School Feeding Programme, many students, like NurZahan, whose poor diet affects their ability to develop at school, are able to receive the essential vitamins that will help them to grow. With improved concentration and higher energy levels, students are able to shine to the fullest of their abilities.


Child Sponsornship Programme

Muslim Aid’s mission, guided by the teachings of Islam, endeavours to tackle poverty and its causes by developing innovative and sustainable solutions that enable individuals and their communities to live with dignity and by supporting initiatives that promote economic and social justice. Vision: The alleviation of poverty, education for all, and the provision of basic amenities for those in need and so create a world where charity and compassion produce justice, self reliance and human development.

We are always looking for dedicated volunteers. If you would like to contribute and help out at Muslim Aid please contact the Volunteer Department at volunteer@muslimaid.org

We would love to hear your feedback. Please send any comments about our newsletter to amina@muslimaid.org

SPONSOR A CHILD IN NEED & HELP ACHIEVE THEIR DREAMS.

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