Mkombe Madrasah lies in the remote rural mountainous areas of Mangochi district. Away from the breeze of the lake, it is located behind the hills of Mkombe – more than 20km away from the tarmac Road. The road is very tricky - a gravel road where you pass through two rivers - in rainy season, it is simply impassable. It is a befitting description of Madrasahs and communities that IFFD has pursued for its Deeni upliftment programmes.
Ameer Adams set out for a visit to the Madrasah in the middle of November 2018. He couldn't believe what his ears heard.
There is no conventional public (English) school operating in Mkombe. The IFFD Madrasah is the only form of education that the children are exposed to. The community tried once to mould own bricks, construct a few blocks and do monthly collections in order to employ and pay teachers for a conventional (English) school – it simply did not work. The community is too poor – the households hardly have any regular form of monthly income.
Tricky Road to Mkombe
The Madrasah was established in 2000 with efforts of some IFFD members who are in South Africa. They managed to employ a Sheikh who they would pay from their earnings in South Africa. However, when things do not go well with them, they would not afford the payments. Numerous Sheikhs came and left – they left mainly due to low wages or even non-payment of the wages. The Madrasah would close during those times when there was no Sheikh.
In July 2018, the members approached IFFD with an arrangement that they should contribute a nominal amount – between K20,000 and K30,000 (R600) – and IFFD should pay the balance. During the times that they cannot afford the payments, IFFD should continue with the Sheikh's salary - when their situation improves, they would then continue re-payments into IFFD accounts. This arrangement seems to work.
The Sheikh was sent to the area in August 2018, and the Madrasah is now fully operational. 45 children attend the Madrasah on a daily basis, there is also ladies classes conducted by the Sheikh – about 10 ladies attend these classes.
The Madrasah - as is the case with all IFFD Madrasahs - lack a few basic things. The Sheikh from Mkombe complained of a chalkboard and basic Kitaabs to use to teach the children. Alhamdulillah, when Ameer Adams reported and conveyed this request to IFFD members, members pledged and bought a chalkboard at K25,000 (R500).
Ameer Bakali and the leadership of IFFD are fully aware of these challenges and are working on a programme to fully equip its Madrasahs. In the North, Sheikh Jeem - as head of Sheikhs in IFFD - has started on regular inspections of IFFD Madrasahs in order to monitor the level of education and intervene where necessary.
Stories like these, in areas like Mkombe - IFFD has many more stories to tell – are hidden from the eyes and ears many, simply because these remote 'behind the hill' areas are deemed impassable. Mkombe is one of the 17 Madrasahs under IFFD. When these Madrasahs are visited, one will not help but shed a tear or two due to the sorry stories.
In Mangochi alone, IFFD has requests from four other places. In Katuli, the community walk long distances up to the Mozambique border in order to participate in Jumu'ah Salaat. They have to leave their homes at 10:00am – a three-hour walk in order to participate in Ibaadah. Same stories we have heard from Chingeni in Balaka. In the Central region districts of Dowa and Ntchisi, we can count the number of Masjids in the whole district – less than 5 or 10.
IFFD invites all people of goodwill to spare a moment and visit beyond the tarmac roads and be in the company of those less fortunate than us. Contribute towards activities of IFFD, become a member if you can – R100 or MK2,000 a month to contribute towards our path to Jannah.