March 2008 Report

As usual, I pen this trip report after my recent trip to many countries, particularly to Comfort Aid International projects in India and Afghanistan. Alhamd’Allah, I visited Paris, France and Antananarivo, Madagascar to brief our Momeneens there about the dicey and delicate situation with our community in Afghanistan. I have taken it on myself to educate anyone who will listen about the very, very grim situation amongst the Hazaras of Afghanistan, especially amongst the widows and their orphans created by the massacre by the Talibaan and also amongst the refugees who literally waste away in and around Kabul.

As I have earlier stated, many times, being poor and destitute is one thing, being poor and destitute AND being persecuted because of your religion is another. The Hazaras of Afghanistan have been 3rd class citizens of their countries for decades, only because of their religious beliefs. So I will repeat what Aagha Mohsini (the Grand Marja e Taqleed in Afghanistan ) has requested. Please help your brothers in Afghanistan materially and with your duas; if you cannot do that, please help them by propagating their plight to the rest of the world.

We must pay attention to Afghanistan, it must be our priority. Because Iraq in the news, the attention and recourses are focused there; I am not trying to take anything away from the misery and need in Iraq, far from it. However, Afghanistan stands isolated and abandoned. I have also tried to appraise The World Federation, NASIMCO and COEJ about the situation in Afghanistan. I do not mean to sound panicky, but consider this single fact. The 3,000 plus widows that CAI is dealing with in Afghanistan are relatively young, between 32 – 50 years old, many with up to 5 children. These overwhelmingly Sadaat women have absolutely no source of income whatsoever, other than hand outs from surviving relatives and aid agencies such as ours. What would a mother not do for the hunger pains of her children? I will leave you with that thought to ponder.

Alhamd’Allah, CAI has put into place certain programs that will, insha’Allah, bear fruit in the long term. Long term, mind you, short term, we must lend our full support.

  1. CAI will, insha’Allah, install 4 carpet weaving machines for the widows to train themselves to weave floor carpets. We have secured the services of business outlets that will purchase these carpets directly, eliminating the middle man. Insha’Allah, over time, this will bring in revenue for the Saadat Colony of over 300 homes that CAI is planning in Herat. These machines cost about $10,000 each and CAI is begging for donors who may want to join hands with us in this service for the pleasure of Allah (SWT).
  2. CAI focus is and must be education, for this is the only long term solution to our poverty problems anywhere. CAI has acquired donated land in a predominantly Hazara area of Kabul known as Land of 12 Imam. CAI will, insha’Allah, construct a school here that will educate about 2,000 girls and boys in equal numbers. Alhamd’Allah, CAI has identified a single donor who will insha’Allah, pay for the construction of the building; but we need funds for running the school.
  3. CAI is also building a new orphanage in Srinagar, Kashmir India. The project is for US $140,000; $40,000 has been donated by the local populace, CAI has raised $70,000 and is short $30,000. Please consider this worthy project this year.

Unfortunately, we could not go to the areas I am told are most needy and pathetic – Bamiyaan and Ghazni. Ghazni because it is too dangerous and all of our ground people strongly advised against and Bamiyaan because of official red tape. Even after agreeing to charter an aircraft for $3,100 return trip, we were asked for government approval. Not having official status of an NGO, we could not pull it off and time ran out.

No more! I give you good news that, alhamd’Allah, Comfort Aid International is now registered and officially recognized as an international NGO by the government of Afghanistan. This was a rather long and tedious, tasking process, but we prevailed. We are now official and more transparent.

I will end here and request that you look through the gallery of photos; it will, insha’Allah, help you see Afghanistan, through a camera lens, we saw. Accompanying me on the Afghanistan leg of my journey were:

Sayyedna Mohammed Mussawi of WABIL, London
Al Hajj Gulam Virjee (Suku Suku) from Dubai, UAE
Al Hajj Aliakber Rattansi of Al Imaan Foundation, Mumbai
Mohammed A Dewji from Vancouver, Canada
Ali Kassamali from Dubai, UAE

Jazaak’Allah, Sayyedna, for your guidance and usual wise counsel. Thank you, the rest, for your company and good humor amongst the misery and destitution that surrounded us. I hope you are making maximum use of memorized Darri terms of endearment for your spouses.

Jazaak’Allah.
Yusuf S. Yusufali