SA Muslims open hearts and pockets to stave of hunger under lockdown

From sisters providing sandwiches to charity groups raising over R55-million, the goal had one common purpose – to support communities whose world turned upside down by a sudden coronavirus lockdown, writes an Al Qalam Reporter.

For the past five years, Aunty Ameena (65) of Morningside, Durban has been making peanut butter sandwiches that are collectively distributed to the poorest of the poor across the city.

When the Government imposed a drastic lockdown of the country that forced millions to stay at home, Aunty Ameena realised that the scourge of hunger was only going to get worse. Without giving it a second thought, she dipped deeper into her pension allowance and doubled her weekly sandwich quota.

Like Aunty Ameena, thousands of Muslims sister across South Africa – in every village, town and city – have upped their ante to prepare more sandwiches in their kitchens to stave off the biting pangs of hunger made worse by the coronavirus lockdown.

But that is not all. South African Muslims in general, including many established charitable organizations, have opened their hearts and pockets to raise over R55-million to fight the pandemic, according to SA Muslims COVID-19 Response Task team (SAMTT) which is charged with pooling and distributing the much-needed funds.

The SA Muslims COVID-19 Response Task Team is a multi-disciplinary forum, established by various faith-based and community organisations, to coordinate a coherent Muslim community response to the COVID-19 crisis in South Africa.

Well known personalities, Mickaeel Collier and Muhammad Cajee, coordinators of the SAMTT, expressed gratitude to the various faith-based, humanitarian, community-based and civil society organisations who are working tirelessly on the frontlines to support provincial and local government authorities to assist families in need. Over a million people have benefited – and counting.

A significant contribution of a R4.9 million aid package made jointly by Operation SA and the South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF) is being distributed in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Social Development.

The Sandton Islamic Association and the Fordsburg Muslim Youth Organisation undertook another important collaborative project under the banner of MealSA, which brought together a host of organisations to purchase and distribute 100,000 of 12.5kg maize meal bags.

 The project ensures that close to 1 million meals are provided to vulnerable communities across South Africa.

Organisations supporting this initiative are the World Memon Organisation, Awqaf SA, Caring Women’s Forum, Al-Imdaad Foundation and many others.

The Share-the-Care one-million free fabric facemask campaign is another significant and impactful collaborative project between the Al-Kaaf Human Rights Centre, Awqaf SA, the Black Business Council, the Community Chest and other partners.

Five hundred thousand masks will be donated to Government and the remaining 500,000 will be distributed to various communities across South Africa by relief organisations. A total of 200 000 masks have been delivered at the time of going to press.

 Africa Muslims Agency has expended R7.4 million, Day 2 Day Foundation R3 million, Caring Sisters Network R3 million, Al Imdaad Foundation R1.8 million, the World Memon Organisation R1.7 million, Islamic Relief SA R1.5 million, JamiatUlama South Africa R1.2 million, NMJ Welfare R2.4 million, Mustadafin Foundation R1.4 million, Salaam Media R786 000 on PPE equipment, Penny Appeal SA R644 000, Roshnee Welfare and Zakaah Fund R500 000, Saabrie Chishty Foundation R220 000, amongst many others.

Several other smaller community-based organisations have also contributed significantly in various ways with amounts ranging from R2 500 up to R200, 000. The distributions included food hampers, soup kitchens, cooked meals, hygiene packs, medical supplies, building supplies, elders’ packs, educational materials, blankets, clothing and water.

The Willowton Oil Group has also extended a helping hand to distressed SMME’s, by making available R100 million for SMME loans. R85 million will be contributed by the Willowton Oil Group, R10 million from Al Baraka Bank and R5 million from the South African Charitable Foundation. The fund and project is administered by Al Baraka Bank and a team of business experts.

The Union of Muslim Students’ Association, MSAs of the Cape and chapters across the country, have responded to the COVID-19 crisis by providing solidarity support through various youth educational and mental health programmes.

You too can pledge your support to the list of humanitarian partners than can be viewed on www.muslimteam.co.za). A crowd-funding site has also been opened and donors may donate to an array of projects at https://www.tawakul.org/covid19/.

But then, there’s also Aunty Ameena and her army of noble sandwich makers who know too well the power of a single sandwich on a hungry stomach…

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