Tuesday March 24, 2015

Shuheb’s blog III – an emotional goodbye

Part I | Part II

Monday 22nd December

Our stay in Jessore came to an emotional, enlightening and inspirational end. The journey was far from over as we headed back to Dakha to what turned out to be an extremely emotional and humble return. A meeting with the minister of Upozila was penned into the itinerary. An astute, well groomed man welcomed us into his office. An office almost set up like a cinema told me that this man was not an everyday person and that the set up of this meeting was perhaps taken to great lengths to organise. The  meeting left us in high spirits; to hear about the future of Bangladesh was inspiring. We were visiting the hazardous child labour project, an initiative to take out children from hazardous work environments into safer surroundings. What made the meeting more significant was the journey to the actual office itself.

s1

A frantic schedule with the traffic not aiding the cause meant that there was no time for a pit stop to the hotel to drop our bags. The cheerful Helal bhai greeted us at the airport and we could only respond with grins of our own. As we headed off to our penultimate project visit we took a drive through Old Dhakha to our destination of Upozila. It was an overwhelming journey. Infants who would typically be at the age of learning their timetables were pushing tonnes of goods through the natural manic roads of Bangladesh. An ominous silence overcame me. I was actually lost for words and the conversations of the rest of the team blurred into the back of my mind. The sight of little children, barely the ages of 6 and 7 directing traffic, herding cows, mending metal, selling colouring books on the streets had brought tears to my eyes. It was in witnessing the tragedy of child labour in the most extreme conditions right before my eyes, that a painful scar was pierced in my memory. This injustice that was so openly and casually overlooked by the world that surrounded them was heartbreaking.

Whilst I couldn’t stop thanking Allah for what he has blessed you and I with, I couldn’t stop asking myself how we can bring such trauma to an end. I guess it was a beautiful way in which Allah brought to me such a painful reality and directed me to hope through the work Islamic Relief were doing. A partnership with the government meant that, not only is this a project at local levels but “has the potential to become a national model” – the words of the minister himself. We were informed about the thorough and detailed process of identifying the most vulnerable in the district and taking them over to workplaces with little or no hazard. The minister in great confidence said, children out of hazardous labour today, and child labour altogether out tomorrow – insha Allah.

s2

By chance, on the day we visited, the nearby school linked to the project had its sports day – an event I’d look forward to from the first day of each school year in secondary school. A beautiful sight of children running, laughing, playing and receiving awards was a beautiful sight. Thanking Allah for his bountiful blessings felt like a thanks of very little value – indeed we are forever in his debt.

 

A final project was yet to be ticked off the schedule before the emotional farewell to an epic journey – The women’s empowerment programme, an ever-inspiring idea by the Islamic Relief Bangladesh team. We witnessed and sat amongst a group of around 30-40 women of the local district listening to their business ideas, the skills they learnt and most importantly how it helped their lives and their family’s life.

 

Much to our surprise, the women were people of great confidence, with great desires to succeed and most importantly, people of dignity and empowerment. It felt as though they were given a passport to life through these schemes and to see them at the forefront of their communities was indeed inspirational. We followed a woman into a shop she was able to put together with the aid of IR and no exaggeration – it beat some of the stores in this country. Neatly stacked shelves, clean and well-lit, products in abundance and in duplicates, the woman stood proudly and humbly by what was the avenue to her future and the future of her children.

s3

Witnessing Islamic Relief’s work overseas was nothing short of our lofted expectations. As volunteers, we could never stress more how our aid delivery is one of the many reasons why we as an organization hold great credibility both nationally and internationally and what we witnessed did justice to what we preached. What struck me most about the work we witnessed was that we weren’t just handing out aid, nor were we just training individuals but we were helping to build communities and simply let people dare to smile again. The fundamental morals as an organization echoed in the work; treat humans beings as human beings and teach humanity, humanity.

I think the key message to take home from this visit would be that the world is in our hands. As stewards, as travellers, as temporary residents on this earth, it is an obligation amongst us to take care of not only the environment but one another. It’s all a little cliche going on about the effects of cars and sprays on the climate but the real reality lies in the damages caused.

shuheb

At the mere age of 21, insha’Allah many more adventures are yet to begin however I genuinely doubt that I will ever feel so humbled and taken than when we met the beneficiaries. These are not just numbers – behind each number is a name, a dream, a fear, a story.

 

Remember Pebbles form mountains and drops make the ocean.

 

Barkallahu feek.

© Copyrights 2022 Islamic Relief SA. All rights reserved Charity Registration Number - 043-357-NPO

QUICK DONATE