At a time where teenagers only contribution to society is perceived to be a riotous lifestyle, we bring to you thousands of students, from different universities and nations uniting for faceless orphans around the globe. Welcome to Islamic Relief’s Charity Week for Orphans and needy children 2012.
Charity Week began as a collaboration between Islamic Relief and individuals from over 15 different Islamic Societies in the South East; established to mobilize the massive student population to raise money through innovative and enterprising means. It remains one of the most successful and powerful projects organized to date. The initial aim was to raise awareness amongst the youth and communities about the tragic state of orphans around the world. Over time, Charity Week has become an institution in its own right with its own dedicated team and a cumulative total of £1,900,000 raised collected over eight years.
This year, Charity Week falls in the week commencing 29th October. The week promises to be a goodwill invasion with students sure to come to a train station, high street or campus near you. Indeed, rarely have the most photosensitive sect of society so eagerly seized buckets, paced streets and engaged in conversation with complete strangers. Alongside the traditional collecting, Charity Week also offers the opportunity to oblige skills and hobbies in enterprising ways. Whether it be cake sales, henna painting, football tournaments or pleasing the male ego (AKA arm wrestling) no method of raising valuable funds is spared. Sponsored silences, handcuffs and head shaving occupy the selfless whilst a sponsored bungee jump dressed as a cartoon character caters to the bizarre. Students raise money from dusk till dawn, and then dusk again. Success is entirely dependent on the commitment shown by students and the end result is a reflection on the dedication of students in the UK.
Organization of a project so incredibly diverse is no mean feat and thus begins a year in advance. In the age of reality television and internet networking sites it is refreshing to meet, greet and plan with real people who genuinely care. Students can be found labelling buckets, ferrying around mounds of T-shirts, compiling information packs and distributing them to other students across the UK. With the efforts of hundreds of volunteers we raise thousands of pounds, the effects of which are felt by children around the world.
As a result, Charity Week today can credit itself for the refurbishment and rehabilitation of an orphanage in Chechnya, refurbishment of 15 schools in Pakistan devastated by floods, paying the rent for and running cost of a vocational training centre in Niger and sponsoring individual orphans in parts of the world, including Gaza and Pakistan. More specifically, funds from last year were allocated towards the following projects – Treatment of approximately 3000 severely malnourished children in East Africa from the devastating famine, provision of 312 pairs of prosthetic footwear and 18 prosthetic limbs for disabled children at the Chechnya artificial limb centre, refurbishment of 30 orphan homes in Palestine, physical, educational and psychological support to 500 orphans in Iraq and the construction of wells and training of orphans in plumbing and maintenance of the wells to earn a living in Kosovo. It is difficult to imagine the power of some spare change but together it does makes all the difference to these children.
Over time, Charity Week has become a national effort with the support of over 150 organisations and universities from across the country. In an age where British Muslims receive attention for atrocities rather than achievements, Charity week is an excellent and positive example of the Muslim student community co-operating to help those less fortunate. With success come expansion and the model of Charity Week has recently spread to Australia, America and Malaysia where universities have started a similar project. It is hoped that the concept will grow even further in the years to come and continue to inspire students like you and I to work together for a worthy cause. It is only if we act to make a difference that together we will.