Building Better Futures in Sri Lanka

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Above: Mr Saranaatupar with his youngest child feeding their Muslim Hands milking goat.

Anuradhphura in Northern Sri Lanka, is remote and picturesque. When it rains the unpaved roads soon turn into mud, electricity is sporadic for the few that it reaches, phone coverage is patchy and running water is a luxury – and often unsafe to drink. 

Despite the region’s abundance of natural resources, its population – who largely rely on agriculture – are amongst the nation’s poorest. Animals are costly and with chronic unemployment many families are forced to endure low crop yield and periods of hunger.

Bringing the fluffy friends to Helembagaweva

In March 2014, Muslim Hands Sri Lanka began the novel ‘Agricultural Project’ in the village of Helembagasweva, in Aduradhphura; where 250 Muslim and Buddhist families rely on paddy cultivation, cattle farming and fruit farming not only as a means of food but to sell to the local markets and earn a livelihood.

With the aim of help a village help itself, Muslim Hands Sri Lanka provided the community with livestock, seeds and farming tools. A third of the families chose to receive eithermilking cows, chickens or milking goats. The remaining two thirds opted to receive mango trees, papaw treescorn seeds and farming tools.

Families attended a series of training session where they learnt how to improve their farming techniques and received help on how to access supply chains and markets.

MH Sri Lanka also set up a community based organisation as a platform for 15 men and women and selected by families in the local area to meet on a weekly basis with a local government representative. To date, the meeting have been very successful in resolving issues raised and have also helped in creating a unite community spirit amongst the villagers.

The impact so far

Although the project is in its early stages vast improvements are already being felt by the beneficiary families. The project, serves over 1,000 people by not only providing food for themselves, but by also increasing the income of farmers, meaning that they have enough money for the education of their children.

Father of three young children Mr Saranaatupar in the village of Helembagaweva said:

” Muslim Hands has helped and trained farmers living in poverty to grow enough food to eat and earn a decent income. They’ve laid the foundation for a better future for my children. More importantly, they’ve united people living in this village and we are going to continue to grow as a community long after they are gone.”

For more information on Muslim Hands Livelihoods Programmes please visit: http://muslimhands.org.uk/our-work/livelihoods/

Muslim Hands Worldwide Qurbani Service

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By the grace of Allah (swt) we are once again honoured to be welcoming the blessed days of Dhul Hijjah. As the days of Eid ul Adha fast approach, many of us are preparing to fulfill our Qurbani obligations to Allah (swt). At Muslim Hands we understand the weight of this responsibility and with 20 years of experience, work tirelessly to reach communities in need across 40 countries.

Eid ul Adha should hold the same joy for families in Haiti, Mexico, China, Rwanda and Palestine as it does for us here at home. To help ensure this, our Worldwide Qurbani Service ensures MH teams distribute fresh (not canned) meat to communities – with produce sourced locally to support the economy and help the environment.

This year with Qurbani prices starting from as little as £35 we hope you will help us to ensure that even more families are reached and fed during the days of Eid ul Adha by fulfilling your own Qurbani obligation through Muslim Hands.

In honouring the obligation of Qurbani, we honour ourselves. It is a reminder for those who give and a reminder for those who receive – Allah (swt) rewards all those who sacrifice for His sake. Just as Ibrahim (as) stood over his son ready to sacrifice him for the pleasure of Allah (swt), let us follow in his footsteps for the One most worthy of it – during Qurbani time and every day thereafter.

Extend the blessings of this sacred occasion by helping to provide even more impoverished families around the world with fresh meat. 

To find out more about Muslim Hands Worldwide Qurbani Service please visit: muslimhands.org.uk/qurbani 

In Mali: To prevent illness, to purify, to live

Mali waterAbove: A woman draws safe water from a Dig-a-Well donated by a Muslim Hands donor.

Mali is a large, land-locked country in Western Africa, two thirds of which is desert.  Despite exporting cotton and other resources across Africa and beyond, the country is one of the world’s poorest, with as many as 5.6 million people lacking safe water.

In the last five years, Muslim Hands has dug hundreds of Dig-a-Wells serving 25-30 families, helping thousands across Mali access safe drinking water.

This means, villagers like Djibril  no longer have to walk in the unbearable heat to collect unsafe water.  In his village of Diatoula in the Koulikoro region of western Mali, getting hold of clean water was a gruelling chore.

During the rainy season, villagers collected water from a spring about 10 minutes-walk away.  But the spring is small and has to support nearly 2500 people, so there was often a long que and each family collected barely enough water for drinking and cooking.

During the dry season, the spring is no longer an option.  Villagers travel along a winding path down to the side of a ravine to the Niger river to collect water. Most women have to take their children with them, often carrying the smallest on their backs.

The trip down takes up to 4 hours, but climbing back up with wet clothes, tired children plus heavy 20-litre containers of water often took several hours. And, worse than the journey itself is the fact that the water they collected is polluted.

Djibril Coulibaly and his wife have 5 children. The family uses only around 10 litres of water per day – less than one percent of the average amount of water a person in the UK uses.

“There wasn’t enough water to wash our sweet potatoes so we cooked them in skins and dirt. We didn’t wash our eating utensils –  just wiped the food off and used them again. We often had diarrhoea and wasted all of our time collecting water.

“Since the Muslim Hands Dig-a-Well this year, we have access to clean water and can spend more of our time farming.  We wash our clothes, and our plates and even brush our teeth! We have become clean and healthier.” 

Djibril Coulibaly, Mali

Across Mali, Muslim Hands Dig-a-Well schemes are helping communities thrive. The community is also involved at every stage of the construction so they are able to maintain and operate the well in the long-term.

Read more about Muslim Hands Dig-a-Well scheme here: http://muslimhands.org.uk/schemes/dig-a-well/

A Buzzing Project For Timbukto

Installation of Honey production hives donated by donor ID. 2125779  - training to the beneficiaries..In countries like The Gambia, where employment and jobs are difficult to find it takes a special programme to provide a community with a regular and stable income.

Alhamdulillah, when a generous UK donor funded three honey production kits which included bee hives,  uniforms and hive tools to a needy community – known as Timbukto Centre – it was a buzzing opportunity to help an impoverished community to thrive.

The distribution of the kits was attended by the head of the village Mr. Touray, elders and a cross section of community members. Individuals received preliminary training of how to look after and maintain the bee hives and how to harvest the bee hives to obtain honey.

The bee hives will be fully colonised and ready for harvest every three months, insha’ Allah. This means the community will have natural organic honey to enjoy amongst themselves and to sell in the local market – generating an income which they will distribute between the local families.

“We thank all of our donors for the timely intervention and gesture.” Mr Touray, Head of Timbukto Centre

Find out more about Muslim Hands’ Special Programmes here.

A New School For Syrian Children

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Early this March, you helped to provide a rare moment of normality for 300 Syrian children in the village of Haas in Idlib Province, as they returned to school – a Muslim Hands Community School. 

Schools in Haas were closed more than a year ago as fighting in the region intensified and families fled to nearby refugee camps on the Lebanon and Turkey borders. Hundreds of children from the region were unable to attend school or have any semblance of routine or normality.

A year on, as displaced families began returning back to their damaged homes – in a bid to rebuild their lives – Muslim Hands made it a priority to refurbish a damaged building into a Community School and set up a supportive environment for these beleaguered children.

Fifteen brightly decorated classrooms across three floors, all equipped with desks and chairs now make up the once damaged and derelict building.

Employed by Muslim Hands, 20 Syrian teachers teach a variety of subject according to the national curriculum from English, Maths, Science to History and Recreational Arts to Syrian students aged 5-15  in year groups one to nine; all filling the classrooms with noise, laughter and the sound of learning.

As well as daily classes from 8am – 1 pm the children are provided with food, safe drinking water, school bags and a safe play area. And, with some of the classes taking place underground in the basement level of the building, some of the younger and vulnerable children feel much safe and happier returning to school.

The school has also caused a surge of activity, as many eager families with children from nearby areas routinely wait around the playing area demanding a second set of teaching hours. For five days a week, from the beginning of June between 2pm – 7pm, 300 more Syrian children from the local area will be attending the MH Community School and building better futures for themselves, insha’Allah.

“Muslim Hands is committed to improving the lives of Syria’s future generations. Upon listening to the parent’s needs and requests it’s been decided that the Muslim Hands Community School will be opening in the afternoon too.” Tariq Nasir, MH Senior Programmes Manager

Looking ahead

Though much work has been done in Syria we cannot afford to let go of our responsibility towards Syrians.

Our focus now is to set up as many schools as we can for this, we rely on your continued support for the children of Syria: http://muslimhands.org.uk/emergencies/2012/syria-crisis/

On Tour: Following The Success of Team Pakistan

Team Pakistan travelled across 13 cities, over 2,000km from Karachi to Abbotabad taking in visits to street child drop in centres, SOS Village Multan, business communities, Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Pakistan Football Association and Parliament where the National Assembly unanimously passed a game-changing policy to better protect the 1.5 million street children living in Pakistan. 

Click through out timeline below to see how the tour panned out and culminated to this historical moment:

Find out more about Muslim Hands’ work with orphan and needy children: http://muslimhands.org.uk/our-work/orphans/

The Road to Rio: Muslim Hands & Street Child World Cup

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Kicking off today, street children from across five continents have been given the chance to come together to compete in a 10 day football tournament.

In an effort make a difference to the lives of street children, Muslim Hands has sponsored children living on the streets of Pakistan and the Philippines to form youth football teams who have been flown out to the footballing nation of Brazil.

Whilst in the home of football, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, these street children alongside 230 others representing their native countries will be grabbing the global media limelight asserting their right to say “I am Somebody.” 9 girls teams and 15  boys teams (aged 14-17) are competing to be proud ambassadors for millions of children back home.

A Muslim Hands team headed by Programmes Manager, Irfan Khan will be heading out to Brazil on Tuesday morning to meet the youth teams and take part in promoting the competition.

Programmes Manager, Irfan Khan said:

“This footballing project is helping to put street children on the map and raise awareness of a global issue which Muslim Hands is very passionate about.

“Football is being used as a means to reach out to these children, enabling them to raise in confidence and leave them feeling inspired.”

Whilst in Brazil the children will have a platform to tell their stories through arts and cultural exchanges, and in a special Global Street Child Conference – their first ever by and for street children. This youth participation conference is the only time street children from around the world come together to identify and discuss the issues that affect them most. They will write and deliver the ‘Rio Rights Declaration’ to governments outlining what needs to be done to help our world’s street children.

Arslan Nusrat, Muslim Hands’ Partnership Manager believes:

” By joining hands with Street Child United we are campaigning for street children to have a safer future free from fear, free from neglect and free from abuse..”

Muslim Hands wishes all the teams the very best in the competition.

Motherkind: Empowering By Educating

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Above: Women line up to be seen by the midwife at the Motherkind Clinic.

Qualified female staff are essential to the running of our Motherkind Clinic in the Puleh Charki District of Afghanistan as many husbands will not permit their wives to use the health facility if staffed by males.

For those that do attend, modesty prevails. For those who are unable to attend due to social restrictions we educate and train local women in the community to help provide women with maternal healthcare on household visits. Alhamdulillah, this has meant approximately 137 women a month are visiting the clinic and benefiting from maternal healthcare. For an area where maternal healthcare was unheard of this is a milestone in reducing maternal deaths.
Please support our Motherkind campaign to continue providing these basic healthcare necessities to women in Afghanistan: http://muslimhands.org.uk/campaigns/2012/motherkind-maternal-health/

Muslim Hands: Charity of the Year

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Above: Brother Yasrab and brother Taukir from the MH Special Programmes Department collect the Charity of the Year Award on behalf of all at Muslim Hands.

Muslim Hands was awarded Charity of the Year at the British Muslim Awards Ceremony last night. We truly believe this is an award which should be celebrated by all of our wonderful volunteers, budding participants, committed supporters, dedicated donors and staff worldwide.

There’s still much to be done to help the poor and needy but by acting together for the needy we can make a difference, insha’Allah.

May Allah (swt) guide us all and enable us to help the poor and needy to the best of our abilities whilst keeping our intentions sincere. May He reward everyone’s efforts immensely. Ameen!

For more information about Muslim Hands, please visit our website: www.muslimhands.org.uk