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Al Ihya Foundation – Iftar Hotmeals on Wheels Ramadhaan Distribution

Al Ihya Foundation is a registered Non Profit Organisation as well as a Public Benefit Organisation with over 21 years of experience in Services and Humanitarian Relief Assistance both local and internationally.
With the arrival of Ramadhaan comes a project that brings warmth and comfort not only to the hungry bellies it feeds, but to the souls of those contributing to such a worthy cause. The Iftar Hotmeals on Wheels Distribution Project aims to feed 50 000 Iftar Hotmeals this Ramadhaan.
The Al Ihya team have done four Iftaar hotmeal distributions thus far, providing almost 3000 meals.

Each meal costs R30
10 Iftar hotmeals R300
50 Iftar hotmeals R1500
100 Iftar hotmeals R3000
1000 Iftar Hotmeals R30 000

The Al Ihya Foundation wishes to thank all those who donated generously to this worthy cause.

For more information contact Sister Nazarene 083 653 5669 or email ihyauloomuddeen@webmail.co.za

Madressah Ihya Uloom ud Deen
Absa
Account no:4072219988
Branch code: 632005
Ref: iftarhotmeal

Marlboro Women’s Forum Annual Bake Sale

“When women come together with a collective intention, magic happens.”

This quote by Phylicia Rashad is not only an incredibly powerful statement, it also pays homage to the countless women out there making a difference, in their own special way, every single day.
One such group of incredible women are the Marlboro Women’s Forum.
The MWF is an NGO that has been operational for over 20 years.
Amongst their ongoing projects are their feeding scheme, weekly sandwich delivery to the Alexandra clinic, assisting victims of abuse and working together with disaster management to assist fire and flood victims.


The MWF work closely with other organisations in the North, such as Baitun Khair, The Two Lights Foundation and The South African National Women’s Forum, with their projects as well.
I spent a delightful Saturday morning with this group of energetic and remarkable women at their Bake sale for Syria. The ladies managed to raise R 30 000 which will be used to build shelters for the Syrian refugees.
Well done to all the ladies at MWF, may Allah reward you abundantly for the good work you are doing both locally and abroad.
For more information contact Hasina Bhana 072 363 9571

Halimah Tlalane Sebusi – Humanitarian and Propagator of Deen

To find an individual like mama Halimah, who at 69 years old, is making a positive change in the lives of the elderly and young alike, brings warmth to the soul and makes one question how much we are actually doing for society’s most vulnerable.

For mama Halimah, the day starts early. She rises at 2.52am to pray Tahajjud (optional prayer), then engages in zikr (remembrance of Allah) and waits for Fajr (pre-dawn prayer). She then heads to the kitchen and starts her cooking for the school children and pensioners she feeds daily. Her food preparation is done at night and in the morning her niece, Maryam, comes to help her. The pensioners and children from surrounding schools arrive at her home from around 1pm. It’s an opportunity for them to socialise and share a meal together. On Saturdays she takes food to Realogile High School to feed the matriculants who attend extra classes. She also bakes cakes for resale to sustain her feeding scheme and accepts donations of food items only.


In 1982, the Catholic born lady found herself relocating from Alexandra to Mogwase in the North West Province, to work as a data-capturer for African Explosives and Chemical Industries (AECI). Little did she realise the impact this decision was to make on her life.

She constantly had questions for her priest, who couldn’t always answer them and knew the answers could be found. She recalls with a smile, “Father Mckay once asked me why I don’t come to confession? I asked him why I should tell him my sins. ‘Why should I confess to you when God is all around us? Can’t I go to a corner and tell him what I did?’” And thus began her voyage of discovery.

It was in October 1990 that she declared her shahada (profession of faith). She went to the Mosque Plaza in Rustenburg, it was still early and all the shops were closed, except for Dawood’s Haberdashery and Material. She went in without knowing what she was looking for. A lady came up to her and asked if she could help. When Halimah expressed her desire to learn about Islam, “The lady’s face changed,” she says. “She was shocked and wasn’t expecting me to say that, I thought I had said something very wrong. She told me to wait there and walked away. Her husband came to ask how he can help, I gave him the same response and he too was shocked. I thought that I’d definitely done something wrong. The man left then returned and told me to come with him. At this point I was not scared, and got into this stranger’s car without question.”

 

They drove to the house of the late Moulana Mumtaz ul Haqq in Zinniaville. After a lengthy discussion and Moulana explaining the beliefs of a Muslim person, she asked how she could become Muslim. He said all you need to do is say Laa ilaha ilallah Muhammedur Rasool Allah and explained the meaning in English. She recited her shahada (profession of faith) and relays that “it felt like she had been sleeping the whole time [and now she was awake].”

She wrote to Sheikh Ahmed Deedat who sent her a pack of literature and she’s been conducting dawah (inviting to Islam) ever since. She laughs about writing her resignation letter to the church. She told the priest about the religion she found and hoped they would turn to the truth.

 

 “Islam made me feel protected, I have a family now. Islam makes me feel so safe.”

Her favourite surah (chapter) in the Holy Quran is Surah Yaaseen, specifically verse 36 in which Allah says, “Exalted is He who created all pairs – from what the earth grows and from themselves and from that which they do not know.” She says that for her this proves that the Quran, this word of God that moves and overwhelms her at times, comes from Allah.

Halimah may be old but her goals are still bold. She would like to use Alex FM to preach and call those in need to her feeding scheme. One of her wishes is to play recordings from her role model, Mufti Menk, to the people of Alexandra. She also has plans to open up a Geriatric Day Care Centre for pensioners living in and around Alexandra, who need a place of distraction whilst their loved ones are at work. “It’s only for Allah, not personal gain, Allah sees everything, so don’t be tempted to enrich yourselves.”

 

When I asked her what she is most grateful for right now, her reply was, “My relationship with the Adamjee Foundation and their help in paving my way to Jannah (heaven). I can’t thank Allah enough for making me a Muslim.”

Halimah encourages people to use platforms such as Proudly Muslims. “I need to share my story and you have given me a voice,” she says.

Halimah is an inspiration to all, her parting words of advice were “Laa ilaha illallah…..make sure Allah knows he is the only one, there is nothing besides him that I think of. My mind is only Islam. When I die I don’t want people to praise me, just remember me as I am.” 

For more information or to donate food items, contact Halimah Sebusi on 063 932 0557.

 

Physiotherapists offer free services to their community on World Physical Therapy Day

Physical pain caused by injury, disability or illness is excruciating, and can ideally be alleviated with the help of a physiotherapist. However, not everyone has the means or opportunity to be treated by one. Looking out for these needful members of the public, Pretoria-based physiotherapists from Laudium, Erasmia, Eldoglen and Centurion offered their services free of charge to commemorate World Physical Therapy Day this year.

From left to right: Zahira Omar, Ashley Ramjas, Jagruti Ramjee, Nadia Latib, Saima Latif Abdul. Zeenat Cassim Shivani, Ahseeyah Hoosen (front).

8 September marks World Physical Therapy Day annually, when physical therapists from around the globe raise awareness about their crucial contribution to society. The overarching theme for World Physical Therapy Day each year is ‘Movement for Health’, with the underlying message “Physical activity for life” for 2017 which highlights the important role physical therapists play in healthy ageing.

Local physiotherapists set up a stall at the Muslim Sunni Trust School fete in Laudium, on the 9 and 10 September, where they provided the public with free mini assessments, posture analysis and vital advice on their physical well-being. The event was chiefly planned and arranged by Saima Latif Abdul, Ahseeyah Hoosen and Asma Omar.

Other contributing therapists, working in both government and private sectors, included Sumaya Osman Cassim, Ashley Ramjas, Nadia Latib, Zahira Omar, Shuayb Omar, Hanita Murray, Jagruti Ramjee, Jayshree Parbhoo, Shazia Essa Suliman, Zeenat Cassim Shivani and Abdullah Hoosein. Each therapist took time off from their jobs and contributed 1-2 hours of their service at the event.

Various sponsors also donated items to fill gift bags which were given to patients. The South African Society of Physiotherapy (SASP) sponsored yo-yos, frisbees, stationery and informative brochures. Amka Products contributed mini toiletries, while Mary’s Outfitters sponsored T-shirts. HiTech Therapy kindly provided the therapists with a TENS machine worth R1000 and other equipment required for therapy sessions.

An event of this type is really important as it showcased the field of physiotherapy to people who may not have had access to the service before. The generous therapists assisted disadvantaged patients who wouldn’t normally have funds to be treated. They did a stellar job of promoting their profession and banishing stigmas surrounding it, all while benefiting those in need of physical relief.

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 ttbc.org.za

Dr. Shenaz Ghood – Events Organiser, Transformational Coach and Social Uplifter

“Who you’re being is far more important than what you’re doing.” This is one of many inspirational quotes by Dr. Shenaz Ghood, whose reservoir of infinite wisdom and knowledge could fill volumes of self-help books.  Two hours spent in her presence gifts one with more life lessons than could be learnt in ten years. She exudes a vivacious and optimistic energy, leaving those who have been lucky enough to make her acquaintance feel more enlightened and hopeful.

For the past 8 years, Shenaz has been uplifting people through many mediums of social and humanitarian work, unwrapping people’s potential to bring out their best selves. The 49-year old metaphysical health coach dedicates her life’s work to healing and helping others.

Shenaz calls Pretoria home, where she grew up in Marabastad and completed high school in Laudium. She praises her father for being a huge inspiration in her life, and refers to him as one of the kindest people she has ever known. He owned a clothing business, buying and selling used clothes to people who couldn’t afford the cost of brand new attire. At 7 years old, Shenaz’s virtuosity for entrepreneurship emerged; she collected bottles from people’s houses and sold them at shops to collect pocket money, which she later spent at the local arcade playing video games. She accompanied her father on his many business dealings throughout her schooling years, and learnt the ins and outs of the trade. At 18, Shenaz started her own business, selling tracksuits to college students while on campus. She currently runs a successful hardwood flooring business. Her keen sense of business knowledge and savvy ingenuity is something she still carries with her today, and she constantly invents new concepts and seeks interesting opportunities.

While studying Pharmacy at Rhodes University, Shenaz began to realise that healing could come both physically and emotionally from alternate sources, other than medication. She left her studies soon after to pursue many different courses in energetic-healing modalities including kinesiology, reflexology, hypnotherapy, magnetic therapy and acupressure. This mother-of-three also achieved her doctorate in Acupuncture through the Open University of Sri Lanka. Her current passion lies in Negative Emotional Decoding; helping people steer away from their dismissive emotions and channel their inner positivity instead. Shenaz believes that ‘love’ is the ultimate healing factor. Metaphysical health coaching is one of her many talents, and she provides therapy – often free of charge – to those who need it. 

Becoming a mother taught her selflessness, gratitude and unconditional love. Her dedicated and heartfelt involvement in social work can be ascribed to these irreproachable qualities. She leads by example, supporting her children and learning pivotal lessons through each of their life’s journeys.

Shenaz and her Eid Shopping Festival team

The Eid Shopping Festival came to fruition when Shenaz discovered a gap in the market and an opportunity to help other aspiring female entrepreneurs and home industries. A project of the Ghood Foundation, the festival offers over 300 exhibitors the chance to sell their products. Any profit made at the event is charitably returned to grow and develop it further for the exhibitors. A massive undertaking, Shenaz helps relatively unknown entrepreneurs grow into established businesses by providing them with training, education, coaching, communication and marketing strategies, as well as branding. Some of these women have went on to trade their merchandise on an international market. She uplifts and motivates these enterprising home industry executives to create exciting, new and dignified opportunities for themselves. Her goal is to mould these vendors into the most successful entrepreneurs that they can be.  Watch this video on Facebook about the Eid Shopping Festival

Excited shoppers at the ‘Dignity Store’, led by The Ghood Foundation

Shenaz believes that rather than giving hand-outs to people, it’s more beneficial to coach them on how to be the best that they can be at their trade. While the Ghood Foundation donates blankets, groceries and food to the underprivileged, Shenaz finds more meaning and satisfaction in helping people sustain themselves. “People have abilities, but not opportunities.” Shenaz explains that she identifies a person’s strengths, assets and abilities, and then gives them unsurpassed opportunities to develop further. Skills development, interpersonal relationship adeptness and business etiquette are just some of the services which she generously teaches to entrepreneurs. 

Shenaz’s charitable ventures are endless. She works with various local organisations to facilitate donations or Zakaat (mandatory charity) for those in need who approach her. She works closely with the Gift of the Givers, and her charity work is funded by all her own enterprises. Shenaz has also established the ‘Dignity Store’ where those less fortunate can shop for necessities for free. Entrepreneurial skills development and human upliftment is a fundamental part of the Ghood Foundation which is a cornerstone for creating opportunities and changing lives.  They offer call-centre training which involves instructing up to a hundred people for free, providing them with vital skills that will lead to permanent employment. Shenaz also initiated a project called Ghoodies, which provides entrepreneurs who are strapped for cash with a social franchise that they can then pay out over 5 years. Watch this video about the Ghood Foundation

Shenaz is also trying to raise R11 million to fund The RX3 Centre, a community-based Recovery, Rehabilitation & Reintegration Facility for Drug & Substance Abusers. The centre is the first of its kind, and will equip patients and substance abusers with various useful skills, making their reintegration back into society a more agreeable process. She believes that people should not be judged and that their behaviour can be disciplined and corrected. With drug abuse becoming the epidemic that it is, and witnessing children as young as 6 years old become cocaine addicts, Shenaz recognised the need for this type of centre. To further combat the rampant drug problem, she is launching a Youth Empowerment project – a written course that will be submitted to the Department of Higher Education for inclusion in Life Orientation modules at schools. The next phase of the project will be a Hope Teen Centre to help children aged between 10-18 years with emotional and behavioural disorders, along with their families. The conception and duplication of this three-pronged project in as many locations as possible is her philanthropic goal for the future.

Islam isn’t merely a religion to Shenaz, it’s a way of life. It provides her with guidelines on how to live happily, healthily and wholesomely. Islam guides every step that she takes and encourages her to make differences in the lives of all those around her. Shenaz firmly believes in the love of God Almighty, as compared to the fear of God. With her mother being a revert, she grew up in a staunch Islamic environment which led her to seek a deeper understanding of the science and sensibilities of the religion. She actively sets out to decipher the simple elements of Islam, stating that when you understand how every aspect is done, it imparts more meaning and makes you aware of living in the ‘now’. She places prominence on the Arabic words ‘Bismillah hir rahman nir raheem”, stating that Allah (God) is most kind, most merciful, most gracious and most forgiving, and says that if you could live by these words, what more could anyone want from you as a person. She regards Islam as a phenomenal religion, and that by understanding its dynamics, it puts one in a powerful and knowledgeable position. She mentions that sometimes the perception of Islam gets warped, however if you read the religion and apply it as what it truly is, it’s remarkable.

Proudly Muslims of South Africa finds an avid supporter in Shenaz, as she says Muslims are currently stigmatised and ostracised, falsely called terrorists and kicked out of their homes and countries. “This type of initiative will change mindsets and allow people to see what Muslims are doing. Traditional media has a negative spotlight on Muslims, therefore it’s important to highlight the positive work we do and show that we are good people who display kindness and generosity.” Shenaz adds that South African Muslims are part of a huge economy that helps millions of people around the world with billions of Rands in aid and relief.

 

When asked what inspires her charity and social work, Shenaz replies: “People are endless. They have forgotten who they are and why they are here, and they’ve forgotten that serving others makes them feel better. They have forgotten that forgiving is not for the other person, it’s for themselves. I want them to learn love again for their fellow human family.” She regards time as her most valuable asset, expressing that giving away her time (and therapy) is more precious than giving away financial aid.

Her proudest moment was watching the Eid Shopping Festival come to life, after working for an entire year towards it. It connects communities and grows businesses. 

Shenaz finds the greatest satisfaction in the small wins she experiences each day. Knowing that she has helped individuals in dire straits to overcome their difficult situations gives her the most emotional fulfillment.

She advises other aspiring philanthropists to take care of themselves more and love themselves enough, because if you don’t, you won’t have anything left of yourself to give to others.

Talking about taqdeer (fate), Shenaz extends her treasured insight: “Nothing in your past could be any different, because it has brought you here, now. Spirituality teaches us that everything happens for a reason. One should not dwell in the past – move forward, take what you have learnt and use it to improve upon yourself tomorrow.”

She lives by the motto: Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.

Her greatest life lesson centers around the fact that people lose the essence of generosity and kindness by only assigning monetary value to it. However, even by simply just smiling at someone, it can change their lives. “There is so much reward even in the tiniest of deeds.” Shenaz says that serving humanity in the smallest ways is most profound and rewarding for her.

“Everyday we’re teaching, we’re educating, we’re training, we’re transforming.” – in her own words, Shenaz sums up everything she lives her life for. Silver linings are her expertise, and she never sees anyone at face value. Instead, she sees people for far more than they believe they’re worth. In the battlefield called life, we could all use a cheerleader like Shenaz Ghood, ardently motivating us from the sidelines.

 

To get involved with the Ghood Foundation, email info@ghoodfoundation.com 

For more information about the Eid Shopping Festival, email info@eidshoppingfestival.com 

Christina Majola – Daycare Founder, ‘Ouma’ and Nurturer

Kindness and warmth are just two of Ouma Majola’s many intrinsic traits. Wearing her heart on her sleeve, Ouma has devoted the past 24 years to social and welfare work. While she may be a mother of one, Ouma is a nurturer, caregiver and counsellor to many. She started the Little Rose Centre in Kliptown, Soweto, in 1993 and it has since become a sanctuary to over 170 children.

 

Born in 1959, Christina Nomayeza Majola – more fondly known as Ouma Majola or Safiyya – comes from a doleful background. Sadly, she lost her parents when she was just 12 years old, and moved in with her elder sister and brother-in-law thereafter. She schooled at Hlakanipani in Dlamini, Johannesburg, and attended Lilydale High School where she completed Form 2 – today’s equivalent of Grade 9.

Ouma (Safiyya) Majola

 

Her conversion to Islam was largely inspired by her only son, Nhlanhla. As a single mum, she feared he would succumb to the pressure of gangs, drugs, alcoholism and the roguishness elicited by an unfavourable socio-economic background. One day, he expressed that he wanted to accept Islam which she didn’t dispute. He attended an Islamic boarding school for five years to learn more about the religion. Ouma observed the kind of man her son was becoming, abound with respectability and discipline. It encouraged her to revert to Islam as well, and in doing so, she experienced a change within herself. She says that Islam taught her that as Muslims, we don’t judge others based on what they do or have.

Ouma notes that growing up as an orphan, there were many people who offered her welfare, however, due to her pride, she declined any assistance. She didn’t want to be helped, but rather be of help. Ouma dreamed of starting her own NPO to help underprivileged children who come from a background like her own. She didn’t let her lack of a formal education immobilise her goal of bringing change to the lives of others. 

After moving to Kliptown, Ouma’s good intentions were given a tangible start with the help of a Suraya Hassan from Islamic Relief, who was involved in local community work; cooking for and feeding the needy. Suraya approached Ouma and fostered her interest in starting a vegetable garden to aid the destitute. Once the gardening project was underway, Suraya once again assisted Ouma with the next phase of her plan; opening up a daycare centre for vulnerable children in the informal settlement. They broached the matter with City of Johannesburg, which donated an old double-decker bus. The bus served as the founding point for Little Rose Centre where a playgroup was housed for four years, and at the time, Ouma was only able to offer kids meals once or twice a day. Although small, a roof over a child’s head was far better than none at all. 

 

Some of the structures on the Little Rose Centre site. The green container is the original shack Ouma started her daycare with.

Islamic Relief sponsored a more stable structure for the children in the form of a container in 1995 and Woolworths followed suit with three more in 2004. They also gave her the opportunity to study Early Childhood Development, so she could have the theoretical credentials necessary to help identify the problems these children face. 

Little Rose Centre in Kliptown, Soweto

 

Slowly but steadily, Ouma’s plans for her daycare facility were falling into place. With generous sponsorships from many different agencies, her vision was becoming a reality. Shamalindi, a Belgium-based relief organisation donated a more stable structure for the children, which was a requisite for Little Rose Centre to be liable for a government subsidy. Sage Foundation sponsored a library container and books which eliminated the long distances the kids walked to get to one. Fujitsu equipped the centre with a much-needed computer lab and a container to furnish it in. Ouma mentions Faizel Gattoo from Lenasia as someone who has also helped her organisation considerably. She also recalls Dr. Nana Hassan, who supported her project from the start and took care of the needs of the entire community, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. 

Little Rose survives only on the donations that individuals and various organisations offer monthly, and is run by a group of dedicated volunteers. Some volunteers even cross borders, coming from overseas to stay and help out at the centre.

 

The playground at Little Rose Centre

 

It devastates Ouma Majola to see kids from high-risk households being removed from their families by social workers. Determined to find a solution, Ouma offers her créche as a refuge to those children and provides them with stability, care, food and an education. She conducts home visits to ensure the children are being well taken care of and to identify any potential problems, organising medical help and social-worker intervention when needed. Ouma also completed courses in HIV counselling to aid the many families living in the area affected by the disease. Selfless and sympathetic, Ouma regards other peoples needs as her first priority above anything else. 

Ouma Majola and a few of the children she takes care of

 

Ouma welcomes children of all races, nationalities and religions, and never discriminates against anyone. Her heart and establishment is open to 170 children, with 110 (from ages 1-6) attending daycare and the remaining attend the after-school program. Of these, 18 orphaned children live full time at Little Rose Centre. Her efforts don’t just stop with the younger generation. Little Rose Centre also functions as a soup kitchen, providing one meal a day to the needy members of the community.

Ouma Majola applies an attitude of gratitude to every aspect of life and is thankful to God Almighty for all she has been able to achieve in her charity work. Initially, her most difficult challenge was not having enough resources as she couldn’t bear seeing a child go hungry. She praises all the volunteers and sponsors who helped her build Little Rose Centre from the ground up, saying she couldn’t have imagined doing it alone.

The library at Little Rose Centre

Her proudest achievement is based on the progress that Little Rose Centre has made. From the double-decker bus in which she first started, to seeing how her centre has developed and grown over the years into a place of hope and mercy, she says all this success is due to the power of God and the support of her loved ones. She advises others to always work together towards humanitarian goals.

Left: Colourful drawings decorate the centre.  Right: Inside one of the rooms in the dormitory.

 

She finds solitude in being able to offer a safe haven to children who come from homes without parental love or concern, providing her symbolically wide shoulders to lean on, along with endless affection and comfort. It gives her so much joy to see the kids she fosters excel at school. Having the ability to help them – even in the slightest – fills her with pride.

Ouma Majola says that Proudly Muslims of SA is a great way of showing the good work Muslims are doing. “It is something we should be proud of.”

Inside one of the classrooms at the daycare centre

She teaches children at the center to exercise tolerance and patience and to be independent, adding that everything she does, she does so for her Creator. 

Ouma wants to be remembered as someone who always gave whatever little she had away and lived to benefit others. She wants people to be proud of her and follow in her philanthropic footsteps, continuing the good work at Little Rose Centre.

In a world overcome with weeds, Ouma Majola has planted a garden of hope for the children of Kliptown. She waters it with faith and love, and continues to grow it into a place of shelter and happiness. A place that these children can joyfully call ‘home’.

 

For more information, visit www.littlerosecentre.com

Sharifa Ahmed – Teacher and Nurturer

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”

Compassion, courage and kindness. Three significant words that don’t even begin to describe the magnanimous force that is Sharifa Ahmed. The soulful 60-year old’s unlimited energy and enthusiasm for helping others is outstanding.

Sharifa’s early years were charred with grief when she lost her beloved mother at just 7 years old. The youngest of four children, Sharifa grew up facing many challenges; having to adapt to governesses and a new step-mum. These encounters chiseled her outlook on life and helped her develop a deep sense of compassion for others. “I think our experiences shape us to be better people,” she explains.

She completed her matric at Laudium Secondary School in Pretoria, and at age 18, marriage titled the next chapter of her life. Sharifa then accompanied and supported her now late husband to Karachi, Pakistan, where he studied Medicine. Living in a foreign country didn’t deter Sharifa. In fact, she used the communication barrier as a catalyst to launch a teaching career. Sharifa taught ‘English as a foreign language’ to the many different linguistic groups living in the city including Pakistanis, Iranians, Vietnamese and Burmese. Sharifa then accepted a post as a Foundation Phase teacher at a Grammar School branch of Cambridge College. After two years of hard work and dedication, she was promoted to Headmistress of the school, an impressive feat for someone without any formal tertiary education. Sharifa then welcomed her new position as a lecturer at the Aga Khan School of Nursing, where she remained until 1989.

Upon returning to South Africa from the world’s fifth most populous country, Sharifa worked at a school for children with special needs. With many years of experience under her expansive wings of knowledge, she now tutors students from Grades 0-8 at her home.

A dedication to the life’s work of Sharifa Ahmed

Sharifa feels truly blessed to be a Muslim, and explains that she sought refuge in the Quraan and Hadith when she became a widow. The incredible story and strength of Bibi Hajar (wife of Prophet Ibrahim AS and mother of Prophet Ismail AS) inspired her most. Hajar (RA) and her infant son were abandoned in the desert but through her courage, faith and perseverance, they both survived.

She joined an NPO called The Gardens five years ago, which specialise in social work for local hospitals. They arrange transport services for the underprivileged from Laudium to Kalafong and Steve Biko Hospitals. They feed and distribute fruit, tea and coffee daily to the outpatients who wait for hours on end to be seen by a medic, often without food. They also conduct hospital visits and provide toiletries for patients in need. Sharifa offers her services and time to co-ordinate visits, and also transports volunteers to the hospitals. She also previously worked with an organisation called Angels of Hope

Charity work became a prominence in her life after her husband passed away. Sharifa prayed to Allah for guidance, hoping that even if she could make one person smile, that it would make a positive difference. 

When the hospital welfare project first started, Sharifa realised that not many women in the community were aware of it. She conquered this marketing setback by using BBM (Blackberry Messenger Service) which was a masterful communication tool at the time. There are now 105 women involved.

Among her proudest moments are when children join her for hospital volunteer work during the holidays, as well as the role she played in helping three women revert to Islam within the last four years. Exemplifying all that it means to be modest, Sharifa says she feels so blessed to help the outpatients each week, and that The Gardens gives her much needed joy and a sense of purpose. She is constantly amazed by the humility of the patients when they’re given meals.

Sharifa wholly connects with Proudly Muslims of South Africa stating that it creates awareness that each one of us has a talent and skill to offer and share, solely for the divine pleasure of Allah SWT.

Her advice for others wanting to do charity work: “Whatever you do, reflect upon it. Do it with your heart and you will see magic.”

Her philanthropic goals include more volunteer work and assisting children through her tutoring, which she fervently prays to Allah to help her do.

Her life motto: “And whoever saves a life, it is as though he has saved the lives of all mankind.” (Quran 5:32)

Sharifa wishes to be remembered as someone who tried her best to make a positive difference to anyone she may have come into contact with. 

Always wearing her heart on her sleeve, Sharifa Ahmed has taught us that the true spirit of giving is not just through bank deposits, but rather in giving of one’s time, personal effort and abilities. These are the actions which people will recall; the handing over of food and pouring of a cup of tea, a kind smile on a difficult day, and on those days, Sharifa offers the kindest smile of all.