Islamic Relief Canada’s Back-to-School Campaign Aimed at Helping Vulnerable Students

According to rahyafte (the missionaries and converts website): Most Sundays, Ahmed Syed is cramming for his upcoming medical school admissions test but this Sunday, he took a break to help stuff backpacks with school supplies — a gesture he hopes will help younger students get their education off on the right foot.

“I really wanted to help the community. I feel like all kids should be given everything they need to have equal opportunity,” Syed said at the London Muslim Mosque, where he was one the volunteers with Islamic Relief Canada.

The Muslim charity has launched a country-wide back-to-school campaign for the fifth year in a row, giving out 220 backpacks to low-income, newcomer and refugee families living in and around London.

While he grew up in a family that struggled financially, Syed said his parents did everything they could to make sure he had no idea how tight things really were. Only much later in life did he realize how difficult things really were.

“When you give them the materials for school that they need, that every other kid will have, it makes them feel that there isn’t any disparity and that they’re equal to the other kids,” he said.

Maryam Qasim, who volunteers with Islamic Relief Canada, said it’s an exciting time of the year for kids, and a ready-to-go backpack will be one less thing to worry about.

“I would go with my siblings and my parents and I would get all the new school supplies and my new backpack. A lot of kids are underprivileged so it’s nice to give them that experience,” Qasim said.

Families across Canada need more help

The backpacks were filled with pencil cases, crayons, scissors, calendars, water bottles, notebooks, glue sticks, pencils, sharpeners, lined paper, rulers, calculators, and erasers.

Once filled, the backpacks were then distributed to kids being helped at the Anova Shelter, the Muslim Resource Centre, the London Muslim Mosque and the John Howard Society in Sarnia, said Saima Sarwar, the regional fundraising specialist at Islamic Relief Canada.

Islamic Relief Canada reached out to all of these organizations to get a total number of backpacks needed to make sure none of the kids went without, she said.

The charity had originally pledged to provide nearly 2,500 backpacks and essential supplies to students across the country — its largest national back-to-school campaign to date. Sarwar said the number is now closer to 3,000.

“That’s 1,000 more than last year. Every year we see the need increasing,” she said.

Last year, the charity filled and donated 300 backpacks to kids living in London and the surrounding area.

Trying to alleviate suffering in the community

Islamic Relief Canada is an international aid and development charity focused mostly on working with communities to prepare them against disasters and offer emergency relief, according to their website.

One of the largest Canadian efforts they are mounting right now are response teams in Kelowna, B.C. and Yellowknife, N.T. to help those affected by the wildfires.

“We watch the news, we hear what’s going on in the communities and we try to fill those needs,” Sarwar said.

Locally, some of the initiatives they spearhead include the back-to-school campaign, donating supplies for London’s homeless population to stay warm during the winter months, and offering meals during Ramadan for families in need.

“We’ve seen an increase in food bank use. We’ve seen an increase in inflation that has caused so many people right here to be suffering. So we just want to help alleviate some of that suffering.”


Source: rahyafteha