Al Qalam Reporter
Awqaf South Africa, as part of its Education and Leadership Development programme, hosted a Day Camp from 1-4 October for youth between the ages of eight and 15 at Emmarentia in Johannesburg.
Awqaf SA is a humanitarian and development NGO. It bases its programmes on an Islamic model called ‘waqf’, which centres itself on financial sustainability. The proceeds of a self-sustaining core investment are used to fund its endeavours.
The Day Camp, which saw participants meeting daily for their activities, was designed to provide youth in urban Johannesburg with an opportunity to learn about their faith, to make friends, to engage and to explore new hobbies in a relaxed environment of fun and learning.
“It is hoped that the day camp will be a transformative experience for these young learners, and will instill in them a love for their Creator. The programme consisted of self-development, archery, calligraphy, hiking and conversational Arabic – all with an underlying ethos of encouraging positive social awareness,” said organiser Tazkiyyah Amra, who is a development researcher.
An excited participant, Sudays Issa (12), said it was the best thing that had happened to him in terms of understanding things and meeting new friends.
For Rumaysa Bulbulia (14), coming to the camp was also exciting.
“I go to a non-Islamic school so I was looking forward to making Muslim friends and I have. My favourite thing about the camp was called ‘Deen (faith) for Teens’. I learned a lot about myself, a lot about my religion and others. I really loved it. Arabic was the hardest, but also cool. I really had fun.”
According to Amra, the camp hoped to inspire the students to take on meaningful hobbies, including delving into the arts by learning calligraphy. Arts reflected positive social messages. The camp wished to connect South African youth with their tradition, reminding them of the achievements of historical communities, past and present.
On the final day, the students and facilitators met at the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve for an educational hike.
“Activities of this nature, we believe, allow our youth to reconnect with nature and reflect on Creation,” said Amra.
Faizaan Karani (12) summed up his experience: “The camp inspired me. I made a lot of new friends and I learnt many new things. We learnt about our religion, which helped everyone become closer to God. And in calligraphy, we were taught how to write the beautiful letters of the Arabic alphabet.
“In Arabic, we were shown how to greet, talk and ask questions. Archery was one of the best. It’s a great sport and everyone liked it. The facilitators were also really good and kind. I’ll come again any day!”
Amra said Awqaf SA and the camp facilitators had been encouraged by the response of the youth, and would definitely be putting together more programmes.
“Youth Development, we believe, is critically important in creating vibrant communities and a resilient society,” she said.