Friday February 7, 2014

Mali Blog Part I: Meeting Samah and Sanya

Part I | Part II

Abdul Basit Ali blogs about the moment he and fellow volunteer Zakir Mahmoud met the Konyara family…

“As an Islamic Relief volunteer, your passion and commitment to helping those in need, wherever the need is, is greater than anything.

Volunteering takes over your life; your family doesn’t see you properly for days because you’re too busy bucket-shaking, counting all those coins, selling tickets for a dinner, publicising an event or just providing moral support. During your volunteering, you’re constantly reminded to have the correct intentions: to help those in need, because it is a duty upon us to do so. To be given the opportunity to visit projects that our donors, supports and volunteers make happen is an absolute honour.

Upon landing in Mali at 2am, we were given some time to rest, before getting up early the next morning to visit the Islamic Relief Mali office. After a briefing from Mali Country Director Abdulmajid, it was straight out to visit a family being supported through the Orphan Sponsorship Programme.

On our first visit, we received a warm welcome from the mother of sponsored twins Samah and Sanya. They came out from their humble home with their younger sister, smiles beaming from ear to ear. Hearing of the realities of this family from the mother is something that will live with me forever.

The death of the children’s father left the family without a home or income – it is only through the Orphan Sponsorship Programme that the family was able to make a humble dwelling to call home. The thing that really got to me was what their mother told me: that the first thing she did with the money received through sponsorship was to buy clothes for her children.

Sitting with the family and listening to what they had been through really got me reflecting on life in the UK. We spend on luxury items we hardly use or need; we buy new clothing yet forget we still have unworn clothes in our wardrobes. Waking up early on a Monday is a massive burden for us and a temporarily broken boiler feels like the end of the world.

In contrast to this are the lives of Samah and Sanya, who are thankful they can now go to school. Their mother thanked us for helping give her a home where her basic needs are met, although she can still only afford to have four of her nine children living with her.

It brings tears to my eyes to think that the Konyaras are one of the more fortunate families in the region. There are approximately 1,930 orphans currently being sponsored by Islamic Relief in Mali, but there are still millions of children in Mali and across Africa who are not fortunate enough to be supported by the Orphan Sponsorship Programme yet, and whose lives are truly unimaginable.

There is still a great need for orphan sponsorship, and I hope I’ve been able to highlight the need for more funds to transform the lives of children in the poorest regions of the world. These are children who yearn for education; children for whom we can be the means of a brighter future.”

To sponsor an orphan like Samah or Sanya, visit our Orphans and Children page.

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