Dec 162009
 

Adahi 09 Understanding the culture and living conditions of the local communities we work with is part of HCI’s philosophy while serving these communities, especially at times such as Eid when great importance is placed on reviving and enjoying the traditional aspects of local culture. In addition, these traditions serve to strengthen community ties and embody important ideals such as generosity and helping the needy.

On the 10th of Dhi Al-Hijaa during the pilgrimage season, Muslims around the world celebrate Eid Al-Adha or the “Feast of Sacrifice”. As part of the celebration, an animal is sacrificed for the sake of Allah and to feed the needy and poor. It is a rewarding spiritual act for Muslims. Every year, Human Concern International (HCI) carries out the Adahi Meat Distribution Project in different underdeveloped Islamic countries to feed needy and vulnerable families.

In 2009, the project was implemented in Gaza, the West Bank, Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan (with Iraqi refugees) where families of the poorest communities received meat packages directly from HCI’s team, or through the help of our local partners.

The goal of the Adahi Meat Distribution project was to enable poor and vulnerable families to cover their basic need for animal protein during this holy season. Inflation of the prices of meat usually occurs during this season, which reduces the purchasing capacity of many families, especially poor ones. Many families also cannot sacrifice their own livestock because they need their animals for the production of milk, cheese and other dairy products, and to work in the fields.

The project has three main objectives: relieving poor families who cannot afford the high price of meat during this season; forming links with local communities to address the needs of poor and vulnerable families, and complementing HCI’s overall relief and development initiatives in the region. HCI’s selection criteria directed distributions to low-income, large, and single-parent families, particularly if the single parent was a woman or person with special needs.

Adahi 09In Gaza, HCI’s team made up of tens of volunteers went door to door and personally delivered the parcels containing meat portions. They listened to and made note of each family’s problems so that this information could be used for the next needs assessment and distribution project. Hundreds of families benefited from the distributed portions. The distribution was implemented in Sheikh Rdwan in Gaza city, Ezbat Abdrabo in Jebalia, Al Zaytoon neighberhoods, and Shajaeya in Al Shatae refugee Camp.

Neighborhood committees and the local volunteers helped in the distributions. The Shahada family, one of the families benefiting from the Adahi packages told the volunteers that they literally hadn’t tasted meat in months, as did another family from Ezbit Abd Rabo, who were extremely thankful for the meat they received, without which their Eid would have been miserable.

Adahi 09In the West Bank, HCI’s team organized the distribution of hundreds of meat packages to low income families with special needs persons in the Central District of the West Bank.

Female-headed households, and families where the breadwinner is disabled, were selected as front-end beneficiaries. Local women’s groups and village councils assisted in the identification of beneficiaries. HCI’s local partner, the Vocational Training Workshops for Girls NGO in Palestine contributed additional parcels that were distributed to additional families. The slaughtering took place at the premises of the NGO, as did the distributions. Families arrived early morning of the first day of the Eid to get their Adahi. The project provided direct support to the families surrounded by the West Bank Wall or by Israeli settlements. Local newspapers reported on the distributions.

Adahi 09In Sudan, HCI along with local partners, organized and implemented this year’s Adahi Distributions in many refugee settlements in the south, north and west of the capital. The Adahi Project targeted all those who reside in these communities, focusing on single mothers and orphans. Targeted beneficiaries where identified in association with local partners. The slaughtering and distributions were done according to the Islamic traditions. Every family received one package. The project targeted the poorest families, especially widows, orphans and families with no income. HCI’s team made a point to be active in communities that contain refugees from the Darfur region and from southern Sudan.

Adahi 09 In Egypt, HCI’s team distributed meat packages to the poorest households in the marginalized new desert settlements of Kalabsha El-Jedida, Bashayer el-Kheir, New Tomas and ‘Afia village located west of Lake Nasser.

In order to guarantee a proper exposure to the HCI, banners, stickers and bags with the HCI logo where printed to be used on the day of distribution, so that people from the villages would recognize that the event was an HCI initiative. HCI’s local partner, the Center for Development Services, contributed additional parcels bearing the logos of HCI and its partners that were distributed to additional families.

Adahi 09In Jordan, in the Jabal Al Qusour district, one of the poorest areas of the capital Amman and home to thousands of Iraqi refugees, HCI’s team distributed food packages to marginalized and mostly widow headed Iraqi refugee families despite the continuing challenge of reaching needy Iraqis who are often unable to seek out official forms of aid because of economic constraints or disabilities.

Family Development Association, a women-headed grassroots organization, assisted in reaching out to Iraqis most in need based on the preset selection criteria. HCI’s long term local partner, New Development assisted in the screening and selection of final beneficiaries, as well as in the procurement of food items in close consultation with HCI’s team. HCI’s local partners contributed additional packages bearing the logos of HCI and its partners to be distributed to additional families. Local newspapers reported on the distributions. These families are live mostly on donations and humanitarian aid with no financial income whatsoever. The Adahi distribution made it possible for them to fully celebrate the holy days. One of the families which received a meat portion hadn’t included meat in their very humble meals since the last Ramadan Eid.

Adahi 09In Lebanon, hundreds of needy single mother headed families benefited from this year’s meat distributions during the Eid Al-Adha in Tripoli, Lebanon. Some of the distributions were conducted at the premises of HCI’s partner in Tripoli, the CIWS.

HCI’s team went door to door in the poorest neighborhoods of the city of Tripoli and personally delivered the meat portions to the remaining beneficiaries. HCI’s team supervised and monitored the entire process from the procurement of the supplies to the packing, as well as the organization of distributions and the selection criteria for beneficiaries in order to ensure the highest and best efficiency.Beneficiaries have commented positively on the distributions, and have sent greetings and best wishes to HCI, and to the people who made their Eid possible.

The Adahi project is designed to deliver immediate relief to the poorest families in 5 Arab countries (Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and Egypt). It is important to continue implementing this seasonal project every year, as poor families can’t afford meat portions in their diet due to its high costs. The Adahi project promotes sharing and caring values especially in times of need, as well as in times of feasts. The project promotes the good will of HCI and our commitment to working and alleviating poverty in the Arab region. It enhances HCI’s relations with local partners who implement these projects, and the communities in which we work with.

The Adahi project as an immediate relief project supports other development projects that HCI is implementing in the region by exhibiting HCI commitment to poor communities need. It demonstrates the quick response and delivery of the HCI’s projects while working towards longer and sustainable outcomes through our other specialized projects.

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Oct 142009
 

Every Palestinian woman and family have a story to tell, many of these stories reflect the profound sadness of Gaza’s own story; stories about the healing of wounds, about deprivation, about women struggling to support families and most of all about keeping hope alive. HCI is acutely aware of this nations suffering and follows the situation vigilantly, taking any and every opportunity to intervene despite the countless obstacles and limitations.

Our interventions may be large scale such as rehabilitating war damaged schools or small scale such as honoring the tradition of a community which we serve. This year, in the Holy month of Ramadan, in the aftermath of a devastating war, there was no community in greater need of support and kindness then that of Gaza’s destitute. When HCI decided to distribute food packages to the needy, the war-affected people of Gaza did not have to stand in long queues. HCI’s team made up of tens of volunteers went door to door and personally delivered the much needed food items and listened to and made note of each family’s problems.

Behind Jamila’s Door

Jamila Al Shaikh Khalil’s door was one of the doors we knocked on. She is seventy years old; she has been a widow for forty years now. When her husband passed away, she was left to raise three children singlehandedly. Her family was shattered once more when her son died in an accident, after which her daughter lost the ability to speak and remained in a dazed and catatonic state. Jamila’s two older sisters also live with her; they are frail, and unable to walk. They need monthly medical attention and a lot of care.

After many words of gratitude, Jamila told us that there are many marginalized women like her in Gaza, with nothing to fight hardship and disease with but prayer and patience. She told us that the food package we have given her will help ease the incredible economic burden on her family for the next coming weeks; she tells us that we have given her hope, and she asks God to bless HCI for having compassion and helping the needy.

Behind Maher’s Door

Maher Aloush and his family are one of HCI’s beneficiaries residing in the Shati’ Camp. He and his seven family members currently live in a small rundown 2-bedroom house. His five children suffer from several debilitating illnesses that require continuous medical support, and his youngest six-month old daughter suffers from malnutrition. It is worth noting that Maher Aloush also suffers from heart problems aggravated by his stressful living conditions.

The Shati’ (literally meaning Shore) Camp where the Aloush family live is considered to be one of the poorest camps in the Gaza Strip. As you walk through the alleys of the camp you notice that the air grows heavier and damp, and your lungs fill up with the stench of polluted sea water and raw sewage.

The camp has not only been gravely affected by the imposed blockade but the residents have been collectively living in extreme poverty for years since fishing, the main source for income generation, was officially banned and declared illegal by the Israeli Authorities. Since then, unemployment rates have soared to unprecedented levels, only to be exacerbated by the recent siege.

General nutrition has also been gravely undermined as a result of the fishing ban. In the past, poor families unable to afford meat and chicken would fish. Today, they are denied the basic privilege of eating well. Environment and health hazards have also become an increasing concern in the camp. Even before the imposed blockade, supplies necessary to equip and maintain the solid waste station have been denied by the authorities putting the residents’ health in serious risk and causing substantial damage to the environment.

Considering the gravity of the situation, HCI identified the Shati’ Camp as a high priority area within Gaza, with a large number of family beneficiaries partaking in most of HCI’s initiatives.

In an attempt to contribute to the livelihood and wellbeing of this family, HCI has ensured the involvement of Maher Aloush and his family in as many initiatives as possible. The family for example, was one of the many recipients of the Ramadan distributions, receiving a parcel containing several food and non-food items. Also, Maher was offered temporary employment during the Kindergarten Rehabilitation program which helped provisionally relieve the family of its dire financial situation.

HCI continues to support the Aloush family, the residents of the Shati’ Camp and the Gaza Strip and hopes to reach out to thousands more in need. HCI is committed to the struggle of keeping hope alive in the hearts and minds of every Gazan.

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Oct 072009
 

Ramadan 09For the Muslim world, the month of Ramadan is traditionally a time for inner reflection, devotion to God, self control, and fasting from sunrise to sunset. It is also a particularly joyous time when relatives and friends invite each other over to gather around a table and break the fast together-Iftar-and above all a time of giving and feeling for the poor. The tradition of fasting is one that makes people all over the world feel with those who are hungry, with those who are destitute. In Ramadan, HCI takes the opportunity to honor these valued traditions while continuing to extend help to the poor and needy in the communities they serve; in the Arab world alone it is estimated that 65 million people live below the poverty line and about 11 million people suffer from malnutrition with 12.7 percent of children under the age of five being underweight. HCI is painfully aware of these statistics and has been dedicatedly engaged in battling poverty, disaster and despair here for over 20 years.

This Ramadan, like many Ramadans before, in villages, towns and cities all over The Arab world, HCI has reached out to many disadvantaged communities in the true Ramadan spirit; hundreds of traditional healthy Ramadan meals have been served to those the most in need of help and support. In addition, specially designed care packages that contain food items such as rice, dried beans, sugar and dried fruit that the families can make use of throughout Ramadan have been distributed by HCI to help ease the economic burden on these families while being as nutritionally beneficial as possible. HCI’s selection criteria direct food allocation to low-income, large, and single-parent families, particularly if the single parent is a woman or person with special needs.

Ramadan 09 GazaGAZA STRIP

In Gaza City, HCI organized an Iftar for war affected farmers and their families who have been supported by HCI to establish their own farming businesses. One hundred and fifty people came together to share the success of what HCI introduced into their lives, out of destruction these people have managed to reestablish their livelihoods, it is impressive; It has been nine months since the last Israeli Operation here and 3 years into a stifling siege, life for Gazans is characterized by chronic unemployment, infrequent access to power and water, health hazards stemming from inadequate sewage system, and sub-standard housing with thousands living in tents or the rubble of their former homes. When it was time for the distribution of food packages to the needy, the war affected people of Gaza did not have to stand in long queues this year, HCI’s team made up of tens of volunteers went door to door and personally delivered the much needed food items and listened to and made note of each family’s problems.

Ramadan 09 West BankTHE WEST BANK

Life has not improved for many of the Palestinians living in the West Bank since the construction of the separation wall that has severed communities, people’s access to services, livelihoods and religious and cultural amenities. In keeping with its commitment to help where it is needed, HCI’s presence was also felt in the West Bank this Ramadan; in the Central District of the West Bank we organized food package distributions for low income families with persons having special needs.

Ramadan 09 SudanSUDAN

In the Salama settlement, south of the capital Khartoum there are about eleven thousand internally displaced people who have fled the violence in the south and west of their country. Here they face chronic poverty, high unemployment, and many health problems. Iftars were organized for them here as well as in the north and west of Khartoum in similar settlements. The distribution of hundreds of much needed “goodwill” or “fasting” food packages as they are called in Sudan were implemented all over the capital as well.

Ramadan 09 SudanSince it is also close to the time when school fees must be paid and school supplies must be purchased, to ease the economic burden on these mostly single mother headed households, and inspired by our firm belief in education as a form of empowerment, we have also prepared back to school items to be distributed to several community schools around the capital. Our Iftars and packages may not seem enough compared to what these communities require, but they address an immediate and pressing need, hopefully with more funding in the future we will be able to do more, for now at least these settlers know that they have not been forgotten.

Ramadan 09 EgyptEGYPT

Kalabsha El-Jedida, Bashayer el-Kheir, New Tomas and ‘Afia village are new Egyptian settlements west of Lake Nasser; they were conceived as part of the government’s plan to resettle one million people around Lake Nasser by 2017 to green the desert. Several of these small agricultural communities have already sprouted up in this desolate land, but the lack of basic amenities has so far been a hindering factor in this project realizing its true potential. Yet even in the face of enduring hardship, these vulnerable and marginalized settlers from all over the country are determined to make a future for themselves and for their families. This year, HCI in collaboration with local partners made sure that 400 of the poorest households in these settlements took home a food package that would be a source nourishment and economic relief.

Ramadan 09 EgyptIn the two days of distribution, work was continuous around the clock to ensure the timely delivery of the food parcels. The New Tomas and ‘Afia village are quite far; approximately 270 km south of the nearest city, Aswan. Making this journey in the morning with the scorching heat was quite challenging for the team but after Iftar as we drank cold water and ate dates, allowing their sweetness to awaken our blood sugar and digestion, we felt inspired to see firsthand the courage and will of these settlers determinedly building a new life for themselves under difficult conditions, and we felt happy to have played a small role in their narrative which will undoubtedly prove to be a success story.

Ramadan 09 LebanonLEBANON

In Lebanon, one hundred and fifty physically handicapped individuals and their families from all over the country participated in an Iftar organized by HCI in partnership with the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union. In the hopes of making their Iftar a memorable one, a carefully selected wheelchair friendly venue was selected for the event and a Hakawati, a traditional storyteller, was at hand to volunteer and entertain these families with inspirational tales; the human connection between the storyteller and the audience creates a sort of friendship, and thus the stories told become more believable and accepted. This makes the message or the advice hidden within the story more influential to their lives.

Ramadan 09 LebanonIn the northern city of Tripoli, one of the poorest cities on the Mediterranean coast with an alarmingly high number of single mother headed homes as a result of war and conflict, HCI organized a series of Iftars and distributions; food packets were distributed to needy families in the north and three hundred orphans and their families were invited by HCI to break their fast together over a period of three days. We are pleased to report that the normally quiet Ramadan evenings in Tripoli were filled with laughter and the sounds that children generally make when they are having fun. Furthermore, HCI organized an Iftar in the high and remote village of Jabal Akroum for the needy local families.

IRAQI REFUGEES

Ramadan 09 Iraqi RefugeesIt is estimated that Jordan hosts over 500,000 Iraqi refugees, the majority of which are without residency permits and unable to work legally, they are often fearful of seeking out official forms of aid. They largely confine themselves to their homes because of economic constraints, disabilities and concerns about their legal status. Access to educational and health services remain limited. Every day is a struggle to hold their families together with very little means. And even though their future is uncertain and their current situation is grim, going back home is out of the question; home is where they saw the destruction of their communities and the constant threat of violence, torture and extortion. Growing numbers are living at or below the poverty line. The resources of many families have dwindled to almost nothing and this creates concern about the simplest things, like how they will feed their children each night.

This year, HCI’s team in Amman distributed hundreds of food packages to mostly widow headed Iraqi families. Not only did these families receive temporary relief to their economic burden but their dignity remained intact, and they felt cared for.

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Dec 172008
 

The second and the third day of Eid Al-Adha dawned windy–one of the most important events in the Muslim calendar both religiously and socially — rainy and cold, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of HCI team in Middle East, assisted by volunteers and local partners, determined to see that the poorest of the poor had a decent feast day observance. It is a celebratory time when fresh Adahi meat is enjoyed.

Upholding a long-held tradition, thousands of families in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan — widows, orphans, unemployed, those with special needs — received meat packages along with a “Happy Eid” card and the good wishes of HCI supporting integrated development and relief programs in the communities where distributions were implemented. Recipient families were identified with assistance from village councils and local partners.

“This reinforces our emphasis on development versus relief,” stated Rabih Yazbeck, HCI ME Regional Director. “It allows us to share in local celebrations and support local residents on such important occasions,” he continued, “taking us beyond simple food distribution to underscore the entire development process in which we are engaged.”

HCI selection criteria directed meat allocation to low-income, large, and single-parent families, particularly if the single parent were a woman or person with special needs.

And since a picture says more than a thousand words, here is a selection of photos from HCI’s Adahi Program for this year:

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Nov 032008
 

There are five people sitting in the same dirt-yard. The first is an old man; he is a vegetable peddler. He is aged, and the limbs of his body seem to rage against each other. There is no coordination in his movements, he is ragged, one of his eyes has been put out and the threat on his second eye is looming. He is war.

The second is a young girl in borrowed clothing; her own garments have been taken away from her. She is a prisoner, and every day she reaches her tiny hands through the bars hoping for a morsel, yet the world turns a blind eye. She is occupation.

The third is a dark-skinned young man with smoldering eyes. He is in a wheelchair; his legs have been mutilated beyond any resemblance of normal limbs. He is catastrophe.

The fourth is an infant boy whose face has lost its baby roundness. Hunger has eaten away at his limbs, and this is because he is an orphan. He has no mother to feed him. He is poverty.

The fifth is a young lady of exceptional beauty who has been torn and ravaged by the times. She can only run with those behind her gaining fast. She has nowhere to go. She is illness.

The month of Ramadan is a month of family, generosity, tradition. The tradition of fasting is one that makes people all over the world feel with those who are hungry, with those who are destitute. It is a time when hands are stretched out to those in need with love and care. And in this month in general is all the generosity of the world contained in the hearts of those who care. Human Concern International is one of those who care. They have done, this past Ramadan, work that will last in the hearts of the destitute forever. For the time being, at least, war, occupation, catastrophe, poverty and illness are vanquished.

Lebanon is the old man War. Civil strife, especially around Tripoli lately in the north, is rampant. Civilians struggle to meet their needs and educate their children. It is like the scarred, hopeless old man who is peddling his vegetables to no one who can afford to buy them. They turn stagnant, much like his hopes. In order to help this old man, HCI held two iftars in which delicious and nutritious food was available to the orphans of Tripoli and their families. They also distributed food packets to the needy in the north, in the south and in the east of the country, putting a smile on the old man’s face for the first time in a long time.

Palestine is the young girl occupation. The families of martyred men lose their source of income and are in dire need of assistance. The Israeli siege and checkpoints make sure that little help is got to them. They are losing hope of survival. And yet, through terrible conditions in which food packets were investigated scrupulously and spoiled, thrown on the ground and left to rot, the determination of the HCI crew managed to distribute hundreds packages to hundreds needy families. Thus the HCI managed to find–not only bread and water– but also cake and tea to the imprisoned young girl with the hands stretched out.

Sudan is the young man catastrophe. The countrymen of Sudan have to live where every institution is a catastrophe: educational, economical, environmental, political, constitutional, infrastructure, health, civilisation, development and so on. And the squalid way in which the population is spread out duplicates the suffering of the Sudanese people. The HCI made their way through desolate lands, unpaved roads, dry landscapes and hazy horizons in order to get help to the Sudanese people. They managed to held two iftars and distribute hundreds food packages to needy Sudanese families at four poverty-stricken communities.

Egypt is the baby boy poverty. The village communities are vulnerable and marginalized, lacking proper heath and medical care services. The HCI helped the poor civilians of village communities by distributing five hundred Ramadan food parcels with rice, pasta, broad beans, vegetable ghee, sugar, tea and dried apricots. This definitely helped an infant smile to grow on the baby boy’s face.

Iraq is the young lady illness. More specifically, she is an Iraqi refugee. Iraqi refugees tend to stuff into cramped ragged apartments, most often an entire family in a single room. There’s little furniture and inadequate heat. Living in such congested quarters can increase the spread of illnesses, but most can’t afford or access health services. The HCI helped many needy and destitute families by distributing food packages this Ramadan.

One by one, these five people sitting in the dirt-yard have come into contact with kindness, warmth, and humanity in the form of the HCI, and each has learned just how grateful one can be to an extended helping hand. The HCI hopes that during Laylatul Qadr their fates for the next year will be kinder, and our fates on this side of the line will help us help them even more. And the HCI says, Ramadan Kareem, kareem indeed.

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Oct 082008
 

The Holy Month of Ramadan is a time for inner reflection by Muslims, devotion to God, self control, and fasting from sunrise to sunset. It is also a particularly joyous time when relatives and friends invite each other over to gather around a table and break the fast together–Iftar–and above all a time of giving and feeling for the poor.

For several years HCI and its local partners have joined together to honor these traditions, extending help to the poor and needy in the communities they serve in Sudan.

This Ramadan, hundreds of Sudanese families received nutritional packages. In some of the poorest areas of Khartoum, widows and orphans, the elderly and the disabled, as well as low income families were able to fully participate in their traditions.

The most difficult to reach, HCI stretched out its hand through seven local non-governmental organizations and committees, working in four different areas.

In the poverty-stricken Salama settlement, south of the capital Khartoum, distribution and Iftars took place with the help of three local organizations: El Nahda (Society for Well-being of the Physically Disabled), Al-Hannan Association and Disability People Organization. In Dar El-Salam Tawidat settlement, north of the capital Khartoum, distribution and Iftars took place at two schools and a mosque. Other distribution points and assisting community organizations were: African Charitable Society for Mother and Child Care, Al Khogali Khalwa and Um-Mou’mineen organization.

“HCI Ramadan program increased closeness among the families in their communities,” commented HCI coordinator in Sudan who coordinated and supervised the distribution in each area. “This year’s distribution was well organized and more focused and transparent,” he concluded.

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