Running for breakfast

Penny Appeal SA embarked on a fundraising challenge to raise money for The Breakfast Club, a Penny Appeal SA Project. The Breakfast Club focuses on providing nutritious breakfast meals to under resourced schools, or to children who are facing food insecurity at home. This has been an on-going project of Penny Appeal SA, which has ensured hundreds of children have nutritious breakfast meals.

The run took place on the morning of 13th of October 2019 in Durban. The starting point was at Blue Lagoon and snaked through the city for 10km’s until it reached the end point at Suncoast Entertainment World.
Whilst some individuals contributed to race participants fundraising efforts with crowdfunding, others accepted the challenge to join the FNB Run Durban 10km race. A group of 21 individuals ran for change with Penny Appeal SA in aid of the Breakfast Club.

Saeeda Khan stood out in the volunteer group (named Team Orange) as she raised a staggering R20 000 (the highest amount raised) towards The Breakfast Club due to her dedication to the drive.
Approximately R 77 000.00 was raised by the 19 participants. R100 gives a child a breakfast for a month, which means that more children can be fed and more schools who need it the most can be approached.

“The Breakfast Club is a project where we try and bring nutritious breakfasts to schools where the children do not have the means to have a healthy meal in the morning due to poverty. Penny Appeal SA is trying to help children receive the best possible education by providing breakfasts to keep them healthy, strong and focused each day,” says Shahnaaz Paruk, the Penny Appeal SA CEO.

If you would like to volunteer to collect donations to one of their projects, go to their website and fill out the form or contact:
Penny Appeal South Africa
Contact number 031 110 0573

Toilets for South Africa’s Most Vulnerable

Pit toilets are still a reality in South Africa and many schools are still using this system due to a lack of resources. Use of these toilets has resulted in physical injury, illness and in a few cases, the deaths of learners.

According to statistics from the Department of Basic Education briefing on the 7th of November 2018, out of the country’s 23 334 active schools, 3 898 still had pit latrines as the only form of sanitation.

The Jamiatul Ulama South Africa partnered with the Gift of the Givers and launched a campaign to eradicate pit toilets from South African schools. The President of the country himself, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, called upon the private sector and other stakeholders to join forces with the government to eradicate this problem.

In term two, Qurtuba Islamic Academy embarked on a fund-raising initiative to assist their brothers and sisters in education. Their aim was to help make a difference by providing six cubicle toilets to a school in urgent need, by providing an environment where learners are educated with dignity.

Juluka Ndoda Primary School in the Kwadudela area of Howick, has for years been subjected to toilet facilities which were in an appalling state. Juluka Ndoda is a top performing school with more than 700 pupils attending from Grade R to Grade 7, but with toilet facilities that were no longer fit for use. The KwaZulu Natal Department of Public Works, which is responsible for the school’s buildings had conducted site visits and deemed the facilities unfit.

On the 12th of September 2019, the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa together with Qurtuba Islamic Academy and Gift of the Givers handed over newly built toilet cubicles to the school. The pupils also received little gift packs of sweets and stationery, and were given important advice on hygiene and academic excellence.

Learners and teachers at Juluka Ndoda Primary School have expressed their gratitude for the 12 toilet cubicles that will now allow them to concentrate on the important work of learning.

Follow Qurtuba Islamic Academy to see the work they are doing:

Instagram – @qurtubaislamicacademy

Facebook – @qurtubaislamicacademy

Twitter – @QurtubaIA


How can you help?

By donating towards this life changing project.

For more information or to contribute:
Contact Ml Asad Pandor –


make a deposit into their account:

Name: Jamiatul Ulama South Africa Relief

Bank: Nedbank Fordsburg

Branch code: 198 765

Account Number: 1953 285 937

Reference: Your name/Toilets 4 schools

Lillah and Sadaqah applicable

Dr Zafreen Valli – Champion for Children with Special Needs

Not everyone has the courage nor patience to understand and work with special-needs children. Dr Zafreen Valli flutters her philanthropic wings as a guardian angel to these often overlooked individuals, using her expertise as a medical practitioner, her empathy as a compassionate Muslim woman and her concern and affection as a mother. Chairperson of Care4u2.Respite.Outreach, Zafreen spends every minute of her spare time finding ways to make the lives of these exceptional kids more comfortable, easier and full of joy.

Originally from Rustenburg, Dr Zafreen Valli currently resides in Johannesburg, and runs her medical practice from Emmarentia. She grew up in a home where community and social work played an integral part of her daily life and where giving back was taught to her at a very young age. This instilled core values, good morals and a sense of community in her.

Zafreen’s school teachers and principal always motivated her to reach her full potential and excel in everything she put her mind to. Learning about the Quraan and its principles from her moulanas and apas (Islamic teachers) in madressa – and living her daily life humbly – has helped her understand the purpose of life. Zafreen mentions, “Unknown to me, those days and those activities were guiding me into my very own path in doing community work.”


She recalls the valuable lessons from both her parents about respect, listening, understanding pain and grief, lending a hand whenever or to whomever it was required by, never turning a person in need away and most important of all; not to expect anything in return. She extends her benevolent hand to others “simply for the pleasure of the Almighty and with the hope that He accepts all of my efforts. Ameen. This in itself gives me contentment and purpose.”


Care4u2.Respite.Outreach was formed six years ago when a need was realised within the special-needs community. There were no avenues to turn to for much-needed help with various issues in their homes. Together with a group of talented and professional women, Zafreen has been on the organisation’s board since its inception and also serves as its chairperson. Care4u2 has steadily grown and expanded beyond the borders of Gauteng to other provinces across South Africa as well as Lesotho. Globally, they have assisted Syrian refugee families (living in Turkey) with special-needs requirements. Care4u2 works with Al-Imdaad and the IHH for Syrian refugee children.

Care4u2 services include:

  • The ‘Respite Care’ programme which gives exhausted parents and caregivers a well-deserved break by sending them away on a short vacation.

  • The ‘Outreach’ programme helps special-needs individuals and their families with the provision of food, clothing, specialised wheelchairs and assistive devices.

  • Learnership programmes and job placements are arranged for children afflicted by cerebral palsy, autism, spinal and muscular atrophy and dystrophy, etc.

A normal day for Dr Valli stretches across taking care of her children, running a home, attending to her practice and accomplishing all of this in between seeing her patients.


Dr Valli uses her knowledge as a medical practitioner to deal with special-needs children and their families with a much better understanding. On a daily basis, this includes trying to raise funds, monitoring all projects, attending meetings, ensuring that all the specs for the wheelchairs are correct, that all deliveries are made on time, and that the wheelchair fits the child perfectly.

Religion is the nucleus upon which Zafreen rotates her life. “Islam is truly a way of life. It teaches us unity, love, respect, tolerance and no prejudice and discrimination towards each other.” Her work with special-needs individuals spans across all races and religions, and exemplifies what Islam stands for; striving to serve all of humanity.


Dr Valli describes the most emotional project she’s been involved in: being able to assist a Syrian refugee and father of four children with cerebral palsy (who now live in Turkey). On hearing that they could give each of his children a wheelchair, he thanked the team profusely and most humbly declined, saying that just one chair would do. He said that the organisation should rather give the remaining three wheelchairs to other children in need. When asked why, he replied that there will never be a time when he and his wife will be able to take all four of his children out together. Since the children are severely affected by cerebral palsy, they would rotate the wheelchair among them for separate outings. His humility broke Zafreen’s heart, and we can fully understand why.

Her proudest philanthropic moment can be tracked to when Care4u2 helped Syrian refugees during its fifth year of existence as a welfare organisation. Alhumdulillah.

This mum of two boys experienced her most rewarding project when handing over an electric wheelchair to a twelve-year-old child with cerebral palsy. The little girl was completely fascinated by the hooter on her new chair. Her innocent laughter and excitement on hearing that beeping sound, and being able to press the button and achieve that result made Zafreen realise that all that matters in life is exactly this; a child’s smile at every accomplishment – a simple task for us, yet a huge task for her.

Zafreen’s biggest role model is her dad. To this day, he is very involved in community work and carries it out with such passion, that she cannot help but admire his enthusiasm and positivity for every project.

Her life motto: “Be passionate about what you do, persevere and never give up. Ask for guidance from the Almighty and have faith in Him always.”

Her favourite Hadith: ‘Innamal a’malu binniyat’. This translates from Arabic to “Indeed all actions are based on intentions.” Zafreen truly believes in these words and tries to lead her life by this principle.

Her favourite Quranic verse: Surah Al Fatiha – the opening lines of the Quraan. To Zafreen, a human’s entire being exists in this verse. She says it reminds us of how merciful and gracious Allah is, and that He is the master of the ‘Day of Judgement’. “We should worship and ask for help from Him only; to Guide us to the straight path and the path of those who he has blessed, not of those who have strayed.”

Zafreen is most grateful for having spent every single day with her mother for what was the last three years of her life. This experience taught her that the human mind is the most powerful tool in being able to cope and adapt to any situation and condition.

Her greatest life lesson: “Whatever happens to you happens with God’s will, not a single second earlier or later. What is meant for you will be.”

Dr Valli supports initiatives like Proudly Muslims of SA, as we play an important role in showing the world that Muslims and Islam are not what is portrayed out there. Islam is a religion of peace and teaches us all to love and live together with tolerance. Organisations like this one show our positive actions and portray how much good Muslims do in their daily lives.

If today was her last on earth, Zafreen would encourage others to remain steadfast in their beliefs. “Prayer and faith guides us and is the answer to everything. Also be the best person who you can be.”To Zafreen, success is based on our actions, mannerisms, relationships and keeping to your word. “These profound abilities are free and make one extremely wealthy in all aspects of your life,” she adds.

Her future goals include growing the Care4u2 initiative from strength to strength. Insha-Allah.

She advises other welfare workers to accept being judged and criticised, but to remain humble. “Have passion and continue to strive because every little bit that you do is changing lives and making a difference.”

Dr Valli hopes to be remembered as being part of an organisation that made a difference in the lives of special-needs individuals worldwide. Insha-Allah.


Making every day an outstanding one for children with specials needs, Dr Zafreen Valli seeks to change the world for them and their families. She helps provide them with mobility to make significant strides, nourishment and care to live longer, healthier lives and encouragement and education to uplift them to new heights.

For more information on how you can help, visit the Care4u2 website



The Teddy Bear Foundation Fundraiser with CineCentre

The life of every child should be valued and protected, and they should each be entitled to a childhood that is carefree, safe and most importantly, happy. Sadly, this is not the case for so many young South African kids. Every day we read about horrific acts of violence against children in the media, however this is just the tip of the iceberg, as the number of cases reported are suspected to be much lower than actual incidence rates. The most prevalent forms of violence include sexual abuse and rape, physical violence and homicide, corporal punishment, emotional abuse, neglect, bullying and gang violence.

The Teddy Bear Foundation addresses these disquieting matters with the utmost dignity, clemency and care, by providing a safe haven for young victims of abuse. The foundation, established in 1986, continually tries to raise funds for the rehabilitation and healing of mistreated kids.

On Friday, 3 August 2018, 52 children from the Muslim Aids Program (MAP) and Nkosi’s Haven – along with their caregivers – were given the opportunity to watch a movie at CineCentre in Killarney Mall, Johannesburg. Their tickets to see Goodbye Christopher Robin were sponsored by generous donations from the public. This lighthearted movie outing was the perfect fundraising idea, as it allowed the orphans to enjoy a fun and anxiety-free activity and be treated to delicious snacks.

The project also aimed to raise funds for The Teddy Bear Foundation and create awareness of the services they offer. Money raised above the sponsorship of the children’s movie tickets will be used to provide them with services, including medical examinations, forensic assessments, counselling, psychological testing, and also be allotted to programmes such as SPARC (Support Programme for Abuse Reactive Children) and SAFE (Safe and Friendly Environment).

The Teddy Bear Foundation currently provides these ministrations at no cost to all those who need it, and any funds raised make these vital services unreservedly available to everyone.

The foundation is grateful to Aneesa Adam, Noori Moti, Ayesha Omar, Sumaya Paruk and Fatima Omar for their assistance in making this event a success and memorable occasion for the children. Farha Moosa of CineCentre kindly hosted the enjoyable afternoon event, where the youth and young at heart enjoyed laughter and entertainment. “It’s amazing to see children together from all walks of life enjoying time together with no boundaries,” said Dalene Bishop, who is the Donor Liaison at The Teddy Bear Foundation.

An incredible amount of R35 000 was raised which will be used towards providing services to abused children. This wonderful experience was cherished by the young attendees, adding much-needed joy to their lives and creating fond memories which will always put smiles on their faces.

To find out how you can help, contact Dr Shaheda Omar on 083 557 3720 or email

Visit their website to learn more.

Sizwe Primary School Receives Donation from Ashraful Uloom

Every child, regardless of their background, should be given an opportunity to receive an education. Children who suffer from severe life-threatening illnesses find it difficult to assimilate to ‘normal’ school environments. They require extra care and attention, and not the disapproving stares of other students. Sizwe Primary School in Edenvale, Johannesburg, has been a sanctuary for children afflicted by Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV, and has been aiding the ill for over 110 years.


Members from Ashraful Uloom paid a visit to the school in early February 2018, bringing with them a few necessities to benefit the kids. They kindly donated a wheelchair which is life-sustaining to some of these chronically-ill children who are too weak to walk on their own. The Marlboro-based NGO also presented the students with new school shoes and a few toys that will certainly lend joy to their days.

The current situation at Sizwe Hospital School, as it’s better known, is dire. The issue of TB and HIV is still a huge taboo in traditional homes, with families refusing to acknowledge the existence of these diseases. As a result, these kids – from as young as a few months old to some in their teens – are dumped at the school, and most have never received any treatment. The conditions in which these vulnerable children are brought in are devastating; some TB-sufferers are multi-drug resistant (MDR) or extensively-drug resistant (XDR). Most of these susceptible adolescents come from poverty-stricken areas and are barely visited by their families due to lack of transportation and funds.

Sizwe Hospital School offers a loving refuge for these children; a place to live, wards to be treated in, food to eat and classrooms to learn in. The school also has psychologists, social workers, an audiologist and occupational therapist on board to assist with medical-related needs. There are currently 12 children of all ages staying on-site; nine girls and three boys.

Principal, Tahira Seedat and school administrator, Glynis Hirschfield attempt to do their best at giving these children optimum care and a quality education. While they are funded by the government, the critical needs of the ailing students exceed the provision that they’re allocated. They accept any form of donation that could better the lives of the children, including fresh food, which is vital to their recovery. Unfortunately, due to the ill health and low immunity of the youngsters, as well as the possible spread of infection, community volunteering is sadly out of the question. 

We may have not been familiar with Sizwe Hospital School before, but thanks to the generosity of Ashraful Uloom, we are now aware of their despairing situation. Most kids these days would do anything to skip a day of school. The children of Sizwe Hospital fight with all their strength and will just to have a normal ‘healthy’ school day. We take our hats off to these young survivors who’ve shown us that hope lies in the hearts of small children fighting big battles.

To find out how you can help, contact Glynis Hirschfield on 072 292 6774 / 011 531 4409 or email


Muslim Hands SA Stationery Drive 2018 benefits Cape Flats kids

The start of the new school year is always an exciting time for young children. The idea of seeing friends again after the long summer holiday, exploring a new classroom, meeting teachers and of course, acquiring more knowledge. 

While public schools do supply learning material for students, most don’t provide any stationery. As we know from experience, both these types of academic materials go hand in hand, and learning is impossible without the use of a pen and paper. Stationery costs are annually inflated which makes even the most basic of supplies too expensive for many less fortunate families. 


Muslim Hands SA understands the value of education and strives to support young learners from low-income homes in any way possible. They held a stationery drive in January 2018, calling upon the local Capetonian community to donate funds in aid of underprivileged school kids. Donors were more than happy to contribute to this worthy cause and an astounding R80 000 was collected through the Muslim Hands Stationery Drive.

On 21 January 2018, stationery packs were distributed to financially disadvantaged children from the Cape Flats. 500 young beneficiaries began their 2018 school year on the right path, stocked with the required stationery and eager to learn. For many of these bright minds, this will be the only new set of stationery they will receive this year.

The stationery pack for each child included writing books, scissors, a glue stick, flip files, pens, a pencil, ruler and eraser, as well as sellotape.

Items in these handy stationery packs were carefully selected to suit both primary and high school students.

There are few things more heartwarming than seeing the smile of child who is given something this practical – and often taken for granted – and yet they treat it like a luxury.


Thanks to the Muslim Hands SA team for continuing to fuel academic opportunities for our country’s youth.


For more information on how you can contribute, contact Muslims Hands SA on 021 633 6413 or send an email to

Dr Shaheda Omar – Children’s Rights Advocate

A courageous person is someone who, despite their fears, faces adversity head on. As Clinical Director of The Teddy Bear Foundation in Johannesburg, a multi-disciplinary facility for abused and neglected children, Dr Shaheda Omar always displays immense courage, commiseration and resilience, even when confronted by the most heart-shattering cases. Working with abused children is by no means an easy feat, however, this sentient 61-year-old lives by the principle that by treating each child as your own, it facilitates their healing and helps break the cycle of violence.

Born in Lichtenburg in the North West Province, and having grown up in the densely populated suburb of Ferreirasdorp in Johannesburg’s CBD, Shaheda loves the exuberance of the city. She reminisces about the invaluable kinship, care, generosity and kindness in the inner-city, where neighbours always looked out for each other. It was a place that defined the true spirit of Ubuntu. Despite growing up without material luxuries, Shaheda found that social and emotional comforts were more meaningful, and helped shape her into who she is today. This upbringing taught her to “love people and not things, and use things and not people.” 

She attended Ferreirastown Primary School and completed her matric at Roodepoort Indian High School, which was a politically active institution during the Apartheid era. Shaheda had the fortune of being educated by anti-Apartheid activist Ahmed Timol, who prescribed to the students that education was their passport to a better future. He, along with two of her other teachers, were arrested and detained for their role in the struggle during which Timol passed away in 1971 while in police custody.

To get to school each morning, Shaheda would walk 30-40 minutes to Fordsburg, take a 45-minute train from there to Roodepoort, where she and her school mates would then walk another 25 minutes through unsafe areas to reach their destination. Her school lacked many resources and had no sporting facilities, play area or library. She encountered an inspiring librarian who introduced her to books, reading and literature. Eagerly wanting to read, but not having any money to buy books, Shaheda would walk the long distance to the closest library in Fordsburg to fulfill her literary quests. Experiencing these deprivations, as well as the Group Areas Act and separate education systems for people of colour, made Shaheda determined to improve her situation. It amplified her thirst for knowledge, and made her realise that “education is her greatest weapon.” 

Dr. Shaheda Omar is the Clinical Director of The Teddy Bear Foundation

Shaheda has since built a rather impressive resume upon the foundation of those words, achieving both a Bachelor of Arts degree and Honours in Social Work through UNISA. She has also attained diplomas in Medical Technology, Marriage Guidance and Counseling, as well as Sexual Abuse Evaluation. She then went on to complete her Masters in Mental Health and PhD in Childhood Sexual Abuse at the University of Johannesburg. Many of her research articles have been published in the academic sphere and she’s done presentations at national and international conferences on the subject of child abuse. While she considered herself to be reserved while growing up, Shaheda overcame the inferiority complex infringed on her by the inequitable laws of Apartheid through studying and working. She sought courage in having an impact on changing things around her. “When you continue doing things in the same way, nothing will happen. But if you confront your challenges and do things differently, amazing things will happen.”

Islam is an integral part of her daily life, noting that she is broadly grateful to Allah (‘God’ in Arabic) for every mercy and blessing. She cannot start or end her day without the remembrance of her Creator. Shaheda’s spiritual connection to Allah provides her with the inner strength and fortitude essential to endure the traumatic and stressful nature of her work. This type of anguish could mentally, emotionally and psychologically reduce one, but prayer (reading holy scriptures and Quranic verses) is the driving force that invigorates her and gives her the conviction to power on, regardless of what she’s experienced.

Her professional journey began counseling children at schools and working with HIV/AIDS patients. Initially, she was overwhelmed by working with child abuse cases, however she returned to the field once her own four children were grown up, and once she had more professional and life experience under her belt. She was headhunted by Childline, where she counseled the elderly and adolescents for three years. The Teddy Bear Clinic approached her thereafter, and she accepted the position which has since allowed her to grow and assist many victims of child abuse and their families. Shaheda wrote up a diversion programme for young sex offenders and children who sexually abuse other children. She also recruited volunteers, as well as wrote and developed training material, and coached counsellors in South Africa and other African countries. Shaheda chooses to impart her invaluable knowledge and experience to empower others, in hope of reaching the goal – ‘Child Abuse No More’. She wrote a court preparation programme for abused children and their parents, compiled a school outreach programme and published a book regarding the issue of young sex offenders. We also commend Shaheda for being instrumental in changing the sexual offences legislation and policy in parliament.

She believes “Reputation is precious but character is priceless.” Shaheda says that healing children is the greatest reward and one can never stand as tall as when you yield to help a child in need. She is passionate about developing programmes enabling inclusion for children from marginalised backgrounds, including those with special needs and the historically disadvantaged. She is currently trying to capacitate people living in rural areas on identifying, managing and reporting child abuse. Other than her demanding day job, Shaheda also sits on different organisational boards and offers her time, counsel and input outside office hours, which often extends into nights and weekends.

Teddy bear therapy

During her 35 years as a philanthropist and social worker, Shaheda has worked with various organisations including the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP) in Limpopo, a child abuse facility in Rustenburg, a paralegal resource centre in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape, as well as abused children as far as Namibia. Her team also deals with many cases of gender-based violence and sexual violence in schools around Diepsloot, Johannesburg.

One of the major challenges she’s faced is having limited resources; human and financial. She’s been turned away from funding and encountered people who were indifferent to her cause. Witnessing destitute victims who didn’t have any money to access resources was a revelation for her to reach out and meet their needs. She sacrifices her time, effort and personal responsibilities to lend emotional and psycho-social support to victims. An evaluation of the positive changes she is able to make in the lives of children has fueled her passion to continue her philanthropic pursuits.

Shaheda has implemented the use of K9 therapy for court preparation

Dr. Omar is grateful for all the small mercies and achievements in her work domain, as these are the building blocks that culminate into something big. She is particularly gratified by the success of the innovative programmes used to help abused children including drama, art and music therapy, and also K9 (dog) therapy to assist kids with court preparation. Evading any recognition or pride for her hard work and dedication, Shaheda says that seeing the impact made on the children gives one a sense of confidence in continuing this journey. She says it’s important to “turn a crisis into an opportunity.” She never takes sole credit for any triumphs, stating that it’s all a team effort. “It’s not about winning or failure. Getting recognition is great but failure only makes one stronger. You only fail if you fail to not try again.”

A therapy session scenario

 One of her most disconcerting projects were children (aged 12 and under) who sexually abuse other children. This despairing experience broadened her thought process and made her realise that one can never be judgmental in this line of work.  She grimly recalls the soul-destroying case of a 4-year-old boy who was sexually abused, which sticks with her as a poignant reminder of the powerlessness and defenselessness of children. While one may lose all faith in humanity after dealing with such abhorrent cases, Shaheda always finds grounds for hope and positivity. She believes that there’s hope for every child you reach out to, provided they get the help they need.

Dr. Omar says that the Proudly Muslims of SA initiative creates an awareness that nothing is impossible. “There’s so much out there to be done, and a platform of this nature will inspire and motivate people to jump out of their comfort zones and assist others.” 

A safe haven for children inside The Teddy Bear Clinic

Her advice to the humanitarian in us all is to be honest, demonstrate courage, be true to yourself and compassionate to others. She prudently expresses that adversity and hardship doesn’t define you, and even though you don’t have control over what has happened to you, you do have control over how you respond to it. 

Her philanthropic goal for the future is to establish a support structure for children with disabilities, as they are the greatest targets for predators.

Her life motto: “I don’t believe in perfection, I believe in striving for excellence. People get rewarded for productivity, not perfection.” 

Shaheda would like to be remembered as someone who was always ready to embrace any challenge and willing to defy inequalities, confront deception and do whatever it takes to help others. 

Child protector by profession, guardian angel by our designation, Dr. Shaheda Omar is an exquisite and luminous ray of light to children who have been through their darkest days. Her selfless and empathetic efforts give innocent victims the power to rise above their haunting experiences with the promise of an optimistic future. She returns the true meaning of ‘childhood’ to each young life she saves.

For more information about The Teddy Bear Clinic, please call 011 484 4554 or visit