Caravan of Mercy SSP Jan / Feb 2013 – Day 8

I wake up after some nice restful sleep for my mind and body, the same kidmat hospitality from the ustaads here. Ustaad Abdul Aleem is taking good care of us. Fresh coconut water and orange juice… After breakfast I go downstairs for a wonder, amazing to think this place started 12 years ago with just two rooms, slowly with guidance and steadfastness it has become a Madressa for 400 kids… over 300 residents. They sleep and eat in the same place. They pray in the balcony hallway, no matter the weather..I’m happy to see this place, a real rewarding satisfaction felt through me, good is being done here, there are about 40 orphans residing in this madressa….I’m downstairs in the small security covered spaced next to the gates, I see a kid sleeping in his fathers lap…Moulana next to him and on the phone, Moulana is discussing with someone about the cost and condition of the kid… The child is ill, the child has lost his vision in a year, suffering from some sort of dry eyes illness (Johnsons Syndrome) which has lead to him being unable to open his eyes so his father must carry his child around with a blanket over his son’s eyes, the child is quiet… I think he is use to his condition….The father does not have enough money for his son’s operation…Moulana takes his details and will try to help iA. The cost is estimated at £1000 pounds.. I know Moulana will help through Caravan of Mercy….Moulana tells the father more important than medicine is duaa… Ask for Allah’s help. . Moulana tells him to ensure he prays his 5 times salah and make duaa…. This is sad…..really really sad…his son cannot see any more within a year, a ‘real’ start to the morning…… the father lives with his mother. Moulana asks him do you take care of your mother. Tells him always take care of your mother… her duaa’s will iA cure this…this is only a test from Allah… anything you need ask from Allah and Allah will provide a way iA…Moulana is trying to educate them…I realise his most important effort with charity. The purpose is to safe guard peoples imaan… educate them…this is all dawat… Giving aid is a means for dawat…we all give dawa..from our characters, posters, books, verbally, dua, caring…its all dawat…if done within the sunnah… I’m emotional from the blind child…May Allah give us easy tests.. I need his guidance for all tests..

We go to the place where we giving out blankets..I say ‘we’ but I’m doing jack,…. I’m just taking credit..I’m getting credit for free…top up here on rewards and mercy from allah..I hope Allah has mercy on me. I’ve been consuming a whale of wealth just on me…and then I want mercy.. Allah is most merciful..I’m still elgible…phew….. This place is where Doctors office is. The doctors building is small, the building is the size of 6 single beds…and within that he takes a small space for his treatment room which is the size of 3 single beds… This doctors’ office only has one doctor…a doctor taking reduced fees of 30 rupees per visit…for people who can’t pay, their fees are provided by Caravan of Mercy…10,000 rupees allocated per month for this…that’s around 120 pounds per month allocated for a village of over 5000 people, the doctors’ office is for all and Caravan of Mercy pays for the poor… Next, a few steps to the building opposite and I’m at the chemist, the chemist is a half filled cabinet… This is the village nhs because people come from far…some from 15km plus to take advantage of the health service in this village..makes me wonder for the people that come far then what do they have in their village… This is ridiculous..everyone deserves to be cared for.. And can be if only we cared..

Next up is my stage show…it has to be..it puts smiles on local faces.…I could them then I’m James Bond and I would be treated the same..I’m nobody to them except someone from abroad..There is not much western connection in this place.. unlike gujarat where there are so many non resident Indians connecting and helping their local village. Our chairs are nicely positioned on the stage.. I need a chair, everyone else should stand..I’ve been suffering so I need to sit… These locals should stand and watch my stage show of giving out blankets to the locals..what an exciting stage show for them… I begin to hand out the blankegs.. first one is an old man around 60, IM HANDING HIM A BLANKET!… I’m embarassed..he smiles with joy, He is happy…next another person around 30..i carry on giving..Im speechless, shocked and embarrassed, I dont want to give it out anymore… pass me some good blankets,.these are pretty lame blankets..but I guess the funds for blankets and the need to spread to as many recipients as possible determines the choice…….i look at the next recipient and it Ustaad Aleem…..He is my age..what a smile of happiness like I’m giving him a prize…. all they are getting is a blanket…some of these only earn 1000 rupees a month.. Time to meet a Haafiz Asjadul-aalam….he became haafiz in 6 months and is ten years old…Masha-Allah…These blankets were given out late..winter is almost over…the funds came late..I was too busy at costa ordering a Caterac coffee…next time I wont delay…it’s not right..it’s just blankets! Oh Allah please forgive me..I’ll try to give…better put in ‘try’ because I still don’t trust myself that I’ll give when I get back..I need to be committed… I won’t put my coffee first…

Next stop is to an open field 5 minutes down the road in the caravan, the sewing machines, cycle transport all displayed in front of the stage..a great set up…better than our weddings.. less than the cost of our weddings..and it’s not about just two people getting married. The sewing machine, cows, cycles, lined up.so strange to see this..it’s new to my eyes..Even though I have done it before over the past couple of days….people’s livelihood on display…recipients watching and waiting, they have got their ticket…They put in an application and it’s either accepted if we give enough in charity or they will wait until we do….it’s a show of a lifetime…I speak to Jehangir…an educated local….a cycle Rikshaw generates an income of 100 rupees a day…a sewing machine will generate around 150 rupees a day…an average of 5 people in each family….cost of rice is 31 rupees per kg for the lowest of low quality…each person needs 600grams per day.. I try to play with these nunbers to try and find the formula…I can’t…then it hits me…charity…we need to give more…we need to give it for their Islamic education, general education and economic development… A motorise cycle Rikshaw will earn a family of five enough to easily survive…but I’m not sure if we want to spoil them so much so they can easily survive…carravan must spread the charity to more people rather than less but also achieving self sustainability ….we are just too busy in our suffering with our mobile phones, cars, matching cothes etc that we just don’t have the time to acknowledge what’s happening here…you need to be here..come here next year.. I’m sitting down next to the stage, at the back side of it…I don’t want to go on stage.. Not this one… I’m a fake.. I don’t give in charity, More of my life has been spending on me and suddenly I am someone that my brother and sisters, mothers and fathers think highly of.. I’m not giving..I’m taking credit…tea man comes over and gives me tea…he has not forgotten me even thogh I’m sitting in the corner away from the stage focus…we have forgotten them.. ignored them, been too busy for them and sometimes not even bothered to discover that they exist…. let’s change iA…for our sake if not theirs…

The cows are given to widows who are on their own… 10 to 17 rupees income from the milk sale per cow per day… That’s enough livelihood for a widow “alhamdolillah a widow will make her day with that” says jehangir… is he for real? I’ve never heard Alhamdollilah (praise be to Allah) said with such reality and belief.. A family of 5 needs around 200 rupees per day to survive, Islamic education and other needs….We need to learn the formula..

They all coming one by one as their names are called out to pick up their livelihood, . lifetime achievement award handed at the middle or end of their lives…Alhamdolillah..

These people, I’m not sure if I’m included but I hope I am with Allah’s mercy, will be given jannah by the most giving Allah, iA.,.reminds me of a hadith Moulana taught me..the poor wll enter jannah 500 years before the rich..will I be hanging around settling my accounts for 500 years, worried for that long which way my scale is gonna tip…..unless Allah showers his mercy on us…No one looks sad here.. they are all happy….Alhamdolillah..

Still sitting next to the stage, Ronnie gives me the ticket slips to hand out to widows once their name are called out..I’m gonna sit and do this…can’t be bothered to stand..too tiring..they’ll come to me and collect their tickets..luxury giving..I do it in the uk unknowingly..putting money in the charity box….epitomised by me here..I’m representing..I’m getting rinsed with self-embarassment in my thoughts.. I feel bad.. selfish..I’m still thinking about me and my feelings…. An old man comes taps me on my shoulder..he has one leg.. should I consider him fortunate?..I don’t know what to think, my thought process is confused. He is asking for money..I tell him “later”…brother Abdbul Gafar shuffles him away ..I’m too busy giving to the poor, writing this blog to put my hands in my pocket…I got big notes only…other people might come to ask…I’ll give him something later iA….please forgive me Allah for my laziness in the midst of giving..I just realise some one is filming me… start acting..pretend to look serious and upset than I am..i have the,luxury of acting..not these people…the rubberband holding my slip is getting loose.. Insha Allah it will stay tight for longer next year when the caravan is back again….not all the women are muslims..it’s the poor…the nation of poor…some of them are better off than others judged by seeing if they are wearing slippers or not…most had slippers..does that make them well off? I’ve just tuned myself to busy my thoughts around the competition of wealth , who is more well of than the next widow and forgetting that they are all poor…shaytaan is right on my shoulder…I’ve given him a good seat on me…..I’ve finished handing out the widow slips..I did all of them.. Be proud of me..i did it all whilst sitting down..luxury giving…

I receive news that our caravan that broke down in Bangladesh is still being repaired and they are still on their way home..Mamajee has not reached home yet…

We hear a couple of ‘success’ stories from previous recipients of Caravan of Mercy donations:

A widow who was given a cow two years ago..today she is no longer begging and able to feed her family, another widow who received a sewing machine, she has stopped begging and is now able to feed her family…another person 62 years old, he put in an application for a rikshaw. Today he recieved his 100 pound Rikshaw…

Another person who got a sewing machine three years ago, today he has 5 people working under him and he is becoming a donator to caravan of mercy..

Caravan gave out 35 ricshaws, 35 sewing machine and 35 cows…Alhamdolillah…Caravan of Mercy is the means of doing great work but there is soo much more to do and so many more places to reach…

The one legged man is stopping us..he wants to speak to Moulana..I noticed he also has one hand…he wants to get his daughter married…he is asking for money, 20000 rupees…the groom family have asked for that amount as a type of dowry..Moulana refuses and says we will help but not here…break the marriage..don’t get her married there..it’s wrong..men give dowry not women…The poor father lingers…keeps asking…it’s too real..too stupid that tradition has overtaken common sense and islam…but he is a father and this happens too often…he wants his daughter married…he says he will break his daughters rishta but is still worried what the village people will say..he travelled far hoping to get help here hoping there will be something for him…

Moulana has asked him to give his name and register with Caravan of Mercy…iA something will be done

We notice people taking home their livelihoods, the cycle transport helping someone take their cow strapped to it, some helping others carry their sewing machine… It’s nice to see this…Caravan of Mercy have helped this area in being the means of providing livelihood and education through these event..

We pray zuhr namaz in the local mosque…it’s less than simple… We have a lunch dawat from a local brother…the food is lovely…the kitchen is an outdoor kitchen…Sajid bhai has a different perspective on this and decides to send the picture of this kitchen to his wife asking if this kitchen will do for their home…it was a clay cooking stove moulded in the ground…

Next visit was a school that just started this year… three teachers who have not been paid for last 6months…the teachers remain for the benefit of the kids.. There are kids eveywhere, on the kids I notice the mixed traditions such as tikka on their forehead of Muslim kids…traditions being confused, accepted and carried out.. the absence of islamic knowledge amongst the older generation resulting in the introduction of confused traditions being instilled into their kids from an early age…. Islamic knowledge needs to be clearly educated to them right now…Caravan of Mercy is setting up maktabs and madrassas and they have plans to introduce an English curriculum education… Whatever size school is built here it will be filled…

We stopped over at a paan shop to get some sweet pan….At a single lane cross road accommodating four way traffic, there is a guy trying to make the traffic at the cross road flow, He has been doing this for past 30 years voluntarily…people just give him a tip as they drive past… Everybody is staring at us as we walk to the pan shop, everybody is starting at us.. Sajid says we stick out like a sore thumb.. Ronnie asks why is that? (With his big DSLR camera around his shoulders)..

We’re back at the Misbahul Uloom Education and Welfare Trust and we have a football match with the kids…5 v 5…bare foot football match…I keep my slippers on…the ground is stoney…Saleh bhai is goal keeper, Ronnie is in defence, me and Sajid in midfield, and Moulana is striker… The kids raw with applause every time we do anything or score… Amazing crowd, most crowded stadium I’ve played in..more people here than the stadium in Dhakka…we win 5 goals to 3 and that’s all that matters…not going easy on them…The kids come and shake our hands..all of them.. I probably shake around 100 hands… They make us feel like celebrities..the kids are soo happy to see us and meet us… An amazing character of these kids.. They are taught so much respect and humbleness here

The lamb has been slaughtered….bbq prep time…. we went to the market and got the grill, chilli sauce and ketchup.. Ronnie has cut some chips and put masala on them.. We’re set.

Tomorrows plan is straight after fajr leave for a village called Teturia to do nikahs…I’m stuffed with food, we’re in the minority…

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