Sharing a few experiences when IFFD undertook an Iftaar 1438 programme in various regions of Malawi.
Represented by Sheikh Musa Mzumara and Sheikh Abu Maher Jimu. The programme involved distributing hampers in the poor areas of the city of Mzuzu during Phase 1 of the project. Luwelezi, Mafundeya Masjid and Inkosi Mwabulabo areas were the selected places for this project. Some 50 families benefitted from this exercise.
Phase two saw the Northern team being joined by their brothers, Sheikh Ziyabu (IFFD leader) and Brother Ahmad Pinde (Relief Department head) all the way from Lilongwe in central region. This team travelled over 250km to be with their brothers in the north. The distribution programme was conducted in Enguncwini, some 50km North of Mzuzu city.
Highlight: A group of women came to see sheikh Jimu at his Masjid in the morning to say thanks for the packs comprising of rice, sugar and salt, explaining that they had not expected to taste white rice in this month of Ramadhaan. These families were breaking their fast on a porridge of mealie-meal, white rice to them is a rather expensive commodity.
Team only reached Kwitanda Masjid in Balaka very late in the afternoon
There is a volunteer Sheikh in Mzimba North, has not received a salary for over a year. As long as he has place to sleep, everything else is secondary and makes do with whatever he gets for food. The Sheikh briefly left the area after not being paid for a few months, however, upon hearing people would return Murtadd due to no Muslim Sheikh in the area, he returned and works for gratis. IFFD is discussing for a fitting monthly compensation for the Sheikh -- obviously whatever he can get cannot be called a salary or allowance due to the sacrifices he is making.
The distribution team was led by Sheikh Ziyabu Adams and Brother Ahmad Pinde. Phase 1 saw the duo ditributing Iftaar items to Area 25 Masjid and Masjid Ambiyaa in Chinsapo township,both of them in Lilongwe. This was to be prepared for the Musallees to partake a cup of white rice poridge to break their fasts daily for the whole month. A few dates also was made available although could not last the whole Ramadhaan. Each Masjid was provided with 50kg of rice, a bale of sugar and a box of dates.
Lilongwe is the capital city of Malawi, and these Masjids were selected due to their surrounding environment, some of the lower earning people reside in the chosen areas. Meals also provided a spirit for the people to bond as a community and share their resources.
In phase two this team travelled to Dedza,some 150km away from Lilongwe in the area of T/A Tambala in Lipulula village to distribute hampers. A total of 100 hampers were distributed to 100 families. From Dedza, the team travelled to Nkhota kota,another 200km away from Lilongwe to distribute Iftaar hampers to another 100 families. In Nkhota-kota, the team went to Makuzi village in the area of T/A Malengachanzi.
Chatting to a sheikh in Nkhota-kota in order to understand his plight, the Sheikh revealed that he earns just a little over K20,000 (barely R400 / $35) a month. He is a bit senior in rank, and says his juniors earn much lesser than him. On average the shuyookh in that area are earning K18,000 (R350 / $30) per month. The minimum living wage as determined by government in Malawi is K25,000, which means those working for deen earn less than a lowly paid civil servant in the government. Where are our organisations!!?? Do we expect to produce children,the future of our religion who will hold on to serve Islamic education with this type of treatment and wages!?
IFFD has committed itself to paying above the living wage, and to conduct a proper salary scale depending on qualifications for all its workers. IFFD seeks to make Sheikhs and Da'wah workers as some of the prized and looked after professionals Insha Allah.
In Dedza, the team was met with an improptu request of an elderly man describing the condition of his Masjid some distance from where the team was distributing hampers. People in that village have managed to prepare themselves burnt bricks, and all they ask for is the equipment of roofing and buildign personnel so as to complete the Masjid. Its huge request for an organisation that is barely 2 months old but it was taken into a book.
The team in the South also covered the Eastern region. The team was led by AbdulRazak Telela, AbdulManafi Katonga, Abdullah Omar Mdala, Willy Kachipale and Overton Chidothi. They travelled distances in order to meet recepients.
During phase 1, the team travelled within the city of Blantyre. They planned for Kalulu and Nkhalamba villages in the area of T/A Chigalu in the rural parts of the city to give them Rice ,Sugar, salt and dates for the iftaar of porridge for the entire month of Ramadhaan.The team met surprised families in Nkhalamba village wondering how could someone take such trouble just to give them some food items. The people of Nkhalamba were contributing among themselves mealed corn, cook and have that for Iftaar. White rice is such a delicacy and too expensive to majority of them.
The road to Kalulu area was way out of reach for the team. Because of that,they diverted to Nthache village, another sorry sight. The Masjid condition explained for itself the poverty engulfing its people. The Masjid is displayed on this page.
In phase 2, the team travelled to Neno and Balaka - where they met their real test of a da'ee. While negotiating their way through the tricky dusty and narrow roads of Neno, the team reached a dead end. A river made it impassable to reach their final destination of Manondo village. After Making mashoora (discussion) the team decided to fold their pants, take off their shoes and hit rest of the road that involved crossing of river by the name lisungwi on foot to go and call the people to receive their gifts. This was a team full of professionals not used to the roads.
To make it worse, the tyre on the vehicle did bust on their way back. And the car finally gave up a few hundred kilometers from their homes in Blantyre while on their way back home.
End of the Road for the team in Neno. Improptu Mashwarah on what next !!
Abject poverty of Kwitanda 1 and Kwitanda 2 masjids in Balaka was sore sight for the team.
People of Neno know of no organisation of Islamic welfare.
They have never been visited by anyone outside their area for da'awah, let alone for relief and welfare parcels.IFFD was first to do this.
The Masjid is in sorry state,
you can see the sun rays through the roof, what happens during rainy season can only be left to anyone's imagination.
Not far from the area is Bwanali Masjid, a masjid built by a Christian herbalist after feeling sorry for the poor condition of the Muslims in the area. This experience repeated itself in Balaka where the team heard stories of a Roman Catholic elder, member of Parliament for the area, Lucius Banda who had assumed role of benefactor to the Muslims. He was distributing Iftaar items to the Muslims of the area. Where are our Muslims ??
IFFD had only heard some of the stories, but once it embarked on a mission of meeting fellow Muslims, they met what they had never heard before. As IFFD prepares for more other projects, definitely, it won't forget these areas where it had visited before. These notes are being made so that the experiences are not forgotten and they will help us in our future ventures.