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ADAMS Youth Director Joshua Salaam assists in the fund raising at last month's Helping Hand event in support of orphans. Photo by Muslim Link.
With the help of Imam Johari Abdul Malik of Dar al Hijrah, Helping Hand for Relief and Development USA (HHRD) raised money to support fifty orphans at a fundraiser in Abshaar Restaurant in Springfield, VA.
Held on August 16, 2013 and hosted by the local HHRD office, young interns from the Student Internship Program (SIP) in Vienna, VA led the effort to raise funds for the HHRD Orphan Support Program. After activist Haytham Younis recited from the Holy Quran, guest speaker Joshua Salaam, Youth Director at ADAMS Center, urged the audience to ask people in need two crucial questions instead of whizzing by the highway of life: ” What do you need?” and “How can I help?”
The event was held in the Islamic month of Shawwal and Imam Johari urged the small number of attendees to retain the spirit of Ramadan and benefit from its training. “Shaytan will tell you that you are good, you did a lot in Ramadan but shaytan keeps going, so you should keep going. Don’t stop standing in the night; don’t stop giving,” he said.
SIP intern Tibyan Mohammed informed attendees of the various programs offered by HHRD including Water for Life, Syrian Relief, Burma Relief, and skill development programs for women who want to work amongst many others.
Included in her presentation were highlights of the youth empowerment programs, such as the annual Youth for Haiti, run by HHRD. These programs provide college students a chance to experience developmental and disaster relief work first hand. HHRD arranges accommodations, local transportation and security; program participants pay for their own airfare. This past spring, Youth for Haiti volunteered at a medical clinic and helped create a science lab for children in Haiti.
Through the In Kind Gifts Program, since inception HHRD has donated over eight million dollars to seven countries, presented Mohammed.
Inspired by the orphan program, Sumarah Shaikh, a student at the Virginia Commonwealth University, interned with HHRD over the summer. An aspiring teacher, she wanted to use her free time to do something for underprivileged children.
She made the presentation on the Orphan Support Program. For a dollar a day, donors can support an orphan through the one on one Orphan Support Program (OPS). OPS currently supports more than 8,000 orphans around the world, up from 4,500 in 2012. The aim is to reach 10,000 orphans by 2015.
“We believe that a young mind who stays in his or her own community becomes a better person overall than [a child] reared in an orphanage,” said Asif Khan, the HHRD regional head for the DC Metro area, in an interview with Muslim Link during fundraising dinner.
Orphans stay with their own extended families. Every orphan is a part of a cluster of 25-30 orphans from within the same vicinity. Each cluster is supervised by an HHRD social worker, indigenous to the area.
Khan shared with the Muslim Link that monthly rations, educational fees, backpacks, notebooks and other basic amenities are provided to the orphans. In collaboration with the World Health Organization and local clinics, immunizations and medical check ups are followed up by social workers and reports are uploaded on the HHRD website for donors.
Social workers also take steps to find and cultivate talents and also provide mental and emotional health services, and especially work on elimination of feelings of self-pity, said Khan. During Ramadan and the two Eids, children celebrate with HHRD staff. These gatherings provide solidarity as children meet others in similar situations.
Another support service that is provided to orphans is the preservation of their lands rights. When the parents of a young Bangladeshi girl passed away, she inherited five acres of land. “We make sure that her inheritance is protected,” said Khan. After finding out what an orphan owns, HHRD submits legal paperwork to ensure that the trustee will hand the property to the orphans when he or she comes of age.
Helping Hand also makes an effort to support local businesses in the countries where they provide relief. Imam Johari pointed out that the HHRD logo t-shirts that were handed out to the participants were made in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
In early August, HHRD was rated sixth by the reputed agency Charity Navigator, in the top 10 Highly Rated Charities Relying on Private Contributions list.
According to the Charity Navigator website, American Muslim relief organization HHRD received a score of 68.95 in Financial Performance, and 70 in Accountability & Transparency; with the overall score of 69.25 out of 70, earning HHRD the privileged Top Four Star rank.
Headquartered in Detroit, MI, HHRD was originally a part of ICNA Relief. In 2004, the two partners decided to become two separate entities and focus on their core competencies. HHRD focused on relief overseas, while ICNA Relief concentrated efforts on domestic aid in the United States and Canada. The boards of both organizations are separate and do not report to each other. They do not share revenue or any major resources.
As sister organizations, HHRD and ICNA Relief do help each other implement their programs, especially the Udhiya program. “Since we do not operate in the US any funds [donated] for domestic aid is forwarded to ICNA and vice versa,” said Asif Khan.
Interest-free microfinance is another way HHRD asks donors to recycle their charity. Giving the example of a young man in Pakistan who lost his leg and was the sole bread earner for a family of seven, HHRD interns showed the audience how a microfinance loan helped him open a small shop in one room of his family home which provides him with a livelihood. This program has helped provide small interest free loans to 3,826 deserving families and businesses that lost their capital during the earthquake in Pakistan.
Asif Khan says that HHRD relies on volunteers in each community they have offices. Local volunteers are needed for tasks such as handing out pamphlets during Jumuah prayers, to in kind drives.
The evening ended at 11 p.m. with spoken word poetry by youth from the ADAMS center.
If you would like to volunteer or donate to HHRD in the DC Metro area please contact: Br. Asif at (301) 252-7553 firstname.lastname@example.org. To support an orphan please visit www.hhrd.org