December 2007 Report

 I am back in the US after an extensive six week trip to Africa, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and India. Alhamd’Allah, the trip was both exhausting and successful. Following are my comments and experiences in each city I visited. I pray you will find it both informative and useful in planning your charitable giving for this new year.

There are many challenges that CAI face as it tries to juggle several projects already undertaken and those that are in the pipeline. The most pressing one is lack of volunteers and a clear succession plan; I am a mortal and each day brings me closer to my final destination. This in itself is welcome, for I am ready and eager to meet my Lord (swt), insha’Allah. What bothers and worries me is the future of unfinished CAI projects when I go. I have previously appealed to anyone willing to take on this extremely rewarding challenge to come forward and join hands so that opportunities Allah (swt) offers us are not wasted. My offer is still open; I urge you all to consider this plea. Comforts are few and some danger exists; however, the rewards in the pleasure of working for Allah (swt) are immeasurable and seeing a helpless Muslim(ah) rid of despair or poverty, a feeling no words can describe.

Three major projects are in the pipeline for 2008:

  1. The completion of water and toilets projects for Afghan refugees in Kabul.
  2. The construction of an elementary school in Daste Barchi, Kabul for Afghan refugees.
  3. The construction of an orphanage / school in Srinagar, Kashmir India.

Reunion, Africa:

I was introduced to this tiny island by a lady I met in India; Sherbanu Alibhoy travels to India often, lending a helping hand to the poor and destitute. She requested that I visit Reunion and talk to the  community about the plight of Muslims in Afghanistan and Kargil as Reunion Muslims were not aware of the situation in those places. I had the opportunity to give a PowerPoint presentation to two Jamaats, one in St. Lois and the other at St. Paul. Although my Gujraati is unfortunately so-so, things went well with this French / Gujraati only speaking community and they will insha’Allah, be active participants with CAI going forward.

My special thanks to Sherbanubai and Takibhai Jeevan for being excellent hosts; may Allah (swt) reward you for your kindness.

I went through a very startling and unique experience with a British female air marshal on my flight from Mauritius to Johannesburg. If interested in reading the narrative, please click here.

Dodoma, Tanzania:

Muslim Banji, who heads Dar Ul Muslimeen, had invited me to visit his many excellent projects in Dodoma, Tanzania. I am genuinely impressed with the work he does and he needs all our support, spiritual, financial and moral. Maasha’Allah, they have done a remarkable job; both in tableegh and secular education for local Tanzanians. We, the non-black Muslims of E. Africa should have done something like this perhaps fifty years ago; our history might have been different.

Karachi, Pakistan:

It is without exaggeration that I claim Karachi Khojas have the best schools and one of the most impressive network of social groups I have seen anywhere. Their school system, from kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school are exemplary. Their teachers training system is unique and worthy of imitation. And their social support systems, from blood donor management to housing to social welfare are excellent.

Hassan Aboolo, my host and guide, did a wonderful job of taking me around and I learnt a lot from the work that has already been done; especially in the field of education and teachers training. This experience will be invaluable for my Afghanistan school projects.

My special thanks to Hassanbhai for being a generous host and to the management of various schools and organizations who have promised help with my education needs in Afghanistan; Jazaak’Allah.

Qum and Mashhad, Iran:

It was a long time coming, but I was finally in Iran, in the land of Bibi Masooma and Imam Reza (as) after an absence of twelve long years. I was nervous about my empty Tanzanian passport, save for the Iranian and Afghanistan visas but my entry and exit into and out of Iran was incident free. There is not much to add here except I am thankful to Gulamhussein Mukhtaar of Arusha for facilitating my multiple visa process into Iran, especially after the heartaches of failed attempts on my USA passport.

I want you to know I sincerely prayed for the wellbeing and success in this life and hereafter of all CAI donors and well wishers in the harem of Bibi Masooma and Imam Reza (as).

Herat, Afghanistan:

It took four hours from Mashhad to Herat by car and my first stop was to where the new orphanage / school sit. It now looks impressive, maasha’Allah, the outside structure complete. The boys will insha’Allah move in by Nawrooz and their education will begin in earnest. The boys are doing well and are healthy; the treatment of hunchback orphan Hyder Ali is over. He will, insha’Allah, grow tall normally and the remaining hump will lessen as he grows older. Ramadhan Abdallah had his foot straightened and almost walks without help. Doctors tell us he will be a normal man as his operated leg gets stronger. We still wait with anguish for Mohammed Ali’s passport to be issued by Afghanistan’s government so he can go to either Iran or India for treatment. My heart goes out to him; as his hopes have been dashed with the delay and seeing his brother orphans get well. I am optimistic however; we will see his situation changed by April when I return, insha’Allah. Jazaak’Allah to all the donors for their sacrifices, may Allah (swt) cool your eyes on the Day of Judgment.

Herat orphanage; top floor (school) almost complete.
Ali Hyder, with the hunchback now operated on (partly blocked), Ramadhan Hussein, with the fixed leg, Mohammed Ali, waiting for passport, me and Aagha Gebraeeli.
Aagha Nawrozi, Ramadhan Hussein, me and Aagha Jebraeeli.
Aagha Nawrozi, Ramadhan Hussein, Ali Hyder, me and Aagha Jebraeeli.

I also participated in the distribution of blankets for the refugees of Mazar e Shareef and Bamiyaan. It was raw cold in Herat and the hall was packed with widows. Even with the presence of so many bodies, I constantly stomped my feet to warm them and keep the blood circulation going. Until I saw a girl of about five or six sitting patiently without socks on her feet. I was shocked, for she looked clearly distressed and very uncomfortable. I immediately requested a blanket from the orphanage and had her feet covered.

Sadaat widows waiting for blankets in Herat.
Blanket distribution; I was trying to keep my hands warm.

I am constantly reminded of numerous opportunities that Allah (swt) grants us. I was among traumatized refugees, all 350 of them widows, many victims of the slaughter by the Talibaan, all dirt poor, many with small children with runny noses from inadequate clothes from the bitter cold and yet, I was strangely elated to be there. All of the widows blessed me while picking up their blanket, all of them. I felt so, so very blessed for this opportunity Allah (swt) has given me! I want you to consider the power of sadeqa, especially of us who live in the West; even 1 dollar given in sadeqa a day will probably save or change a life. CAI uses sadeqa funds directly to those that are the most vulnerable; children and widows, especially in life saving or changing situations. Please keep this in mind for it breaks my heart to turn away or delay cases that can be really fixed with not so much money.

We are severely handicapped, financially, in our quest to provide water and toilet facilities to some 250,000 refugees at Daste Barchi and Chandiwal, Kabul. Please help if you can for these 250,000 refugees who live in pitiful conditions, without water or toilet facilities. I personally will not accept our womenfolk get humiliated by going for nature calls in front of other males. We must get this project completed before winters of 2008 begin. From a budget of $320,000, we are now about $77,000 short. I appeal to you, in the name of Imam Hussein (as), not to let these wrenched people wither away, for they are indeed helpless, oppressed and mazloom indeed. Khums (sehme Imam (as) only in this instance) and regular charity acceptable for this project.

CAI will insha’Allah, attempt to build a school for these displaced children; I will update you on this topic after my next visit there in April insha’Alah.

Srinagar, Indian Kashmir:

A. For a while now, CAI had been requested to look into the situation of orphans in Srinagar, Kashmir India. After extensive due diligence, CAI has decided to proceed with the project to construct an orphanage for 50 boys in cooperation with Al Masumeen Yateem Trust based in Zadival, Srinagar. These are a dedicated group of professionals who strive to better their lot. Al Masumeen Yateem Trust will provide the land and 20% of construction cost for the orphanage.

Now, why so many orphanages, I have been asked many times. This will, insha’Allah, be the 4th orphanage CAI will assist in constructing. Well, the problems within the world of the poor and destitute are oppressively overpowering, it would be impossible for us to help all of those that deserve it. But we cannot ignore their pathetic conditions as well, for if we don’t do the part Allah (swt) has ordered us in regards to orphans, who will?

An orphanage, in my experiences, provide a focal point where care, wellbeing and security but more importantly, education to a select few can be, logistically speaking, easily provided. These orphans will, insha’Allah, pull themselves out from depth of despair and hopelessness, cut off chains of poverty that hang around them and their loved ones. Save these orphans now and you have saved their entire progeny. This is the logic we at CAI use in determining the need of an orphanage. Not that this project will not have its unique challenges. but these will be easier to manage than providing individual services to each and every orphan home within the localities we operate in.

Laying of foundation stone for the orphanage will take place sometime in March, insha’Allah, after winter thaw and we have determined that an orphan will do the honors. We are looking to raise US $100,000 for this project. Please help if you can in this very worthy investment for our future.

B. We were alerted to 2 medical cases that needed financial attention; both from very poor neighborhoods and both bread earners with families to support. I had sadeqa funds with me so was happy and eager to visit them. The first gentleman, a wayside vegetable vendor, was hit by a wayward vehicle, snapping off his spinal cord and rendering him crippled for life. We consoled him and prayed for him and helped him with food money for his family of 6.

It was the second person that broke my heart and robbed me of sleep and appetite for that day. Nehraj Hussein Parrah , 39 years old, 3 children, was trying to retrieve a stuck kite from a treetop for some children when the branch he was standing on snapped and he fell, severing his spinal cord. We saw him at home, being cared for him by his young wife. Hussein was in great pain, a constant lament of “Hai, hai, hai, hai , hai…..” from his lips raised the hair on my nape and gave me a very uncomfortable feeling at the pit of my stomach. I will be honest and say that the feeling of running away from there was intense. My camera was at the hotel as this visit was unplanned so I asked permission from the wife and took the following grainy photo from Aliakerbhais cell phone. We prayed for him, gave the wife some sadeqa funds and left; I remained in a very emotional and disturbed state of mind all day.

It saddens me to write that Nehraj Hussein Parrah passed away the next morning; we got the news as we were having breakfast. What are the odds; the guy suffers for 3 months and the day after we see him, he goes to meet his Lord (swt). Thank you Allah, for letting us all at CAI, its donors and well wishers, help in a very small way we did, through prayer and sadeqa.

Nehraj Hussein Parrah with his wife on the last day of his life. Please recite Sura-e-Feteha.

On a more positive note, I am happy to say that the school in Uri that was destroyed in the earthquake of 2005 is now complete. It took this long due to the remoteness of the area; most of the construction material had to be brought in on mules! Students will return after winter in March, insha’Allah. Here are few photos of the new school (the school made possible by a generous grant from the Khaki Foundation of Seattle). Jazaak’Allah!

On an even happier note, CAI assisted 23 sayyed girls get married; all these had slim chances to an early marriage due to poverty and helplessness. Alhamd’Allah, this was very heart warming for me personally for I got all sorts of duas from the girls and their parents. I share a few photos of them here.

Matia Bruj, Kolkota, India:

Sherbanubai, her granddaughter Fatemah, Aliakberbhai from Al Imaan and I paid a flying visit to our Boys Home orphanage in Matia Bruj. Alhamd’Allah, all the kids are well and healthy and have progressed nicely with their studies. These boys come from extremely poor and backward villages of Chowwis Parghana, so to see the progress they have made so far was very heart warming.

Mumbai:

You remember two boys from Kargil with severely deformed hands that needed surgery? I am happy to report that CAI brought both boys to Mumbai and were operated on in November. Alhamd’Allah, they now have mechanical hands that will perform most tasks a normal hand would. Our most profound and sincere thanks to Dr. Ali Irani and other doctors and staff at Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai who did an excellent job, not only for the surgery but also for the hospitality extended to the two kids. May Allah (swt) bless you abundantly. Both kids will be returning to Kargil and to normal lives shortly, insha’Allah.

Cute Hussein with his hand “fixed”.
Zulfiqar, the orphan from Herat with both deformed hands amputated and fixed with mechanical ones.
Hussein, me and Zulfiqar at Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai..

In conclusion, CAI thanks all its donors and well wishers for we would not be here were it not for you and your duas. We are desperate for your continued support and especially for duas for the success of our various projects. Please, please forward these reports to all you feel might benefit from its contents and be a source of mutual benefit.

May Allah (swt) bless and reward you, in this life and the coming one.

Jazaak’Allah.
Yusuf S. Yusufali