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Interview: HHRD on the Ground

Burma

The country of Burma, officially renamed Myanmar, is located in Southeast Asia and is bordered by India, Bangladesh, China, Laos, and Thailand. Burma’shistory has been marked by one of the longest running civil wars between ethnic groups. In a country with 135 ethnic groups, the 800,000 Rohingya Muslims face persecution, ongoing since 1942.In June, 2012, hundreds of Muslim men, women, and children in the Burmese state ofArakan suffered at the hands of Rakhine groups, and there was widespreadmurder and destruction. Whole Muslim neighborhoods in the cities of Western Burma were razed to the ground and thousands were arbitrarily arrested. Doctors Without Borders calls the persecution and massacres of the Rohingya Muslims nothing short of ethnic cleansing.Currently, more than 140,000 people are living in camps.Over 80,000 have fled by boat, many of which havedisappeared or capsized. Thousands have been incarcerated at border camps or are being exploited at the hands of human trafficking groups.

Responding to the recent crisis in Burma, HHRD is providing relief with the help of its partners in Rangon (Rangoon), the capital city of Myanmar. HHRD partners with the Asian Resource Foundation (ARF Asia) in ongoing efforts to help the Rohingya. HHRD’s Orphan Support Program currently supports 200 orphans, and other programs include In-Kind Gifts and Emergency Relief, along with seasonal programs such as Ramadan Food Baskets and Global Zabihah. HHRD was also able to provide 400 families with Ramadan and Fitra donations. Our Eidul Fitr Food Distribution served 8,370 people. Moreover, medical supplies and equipment have been delivered to the Orthopedic Department of General Hospital Yangon, Myanmar, and the qurbani (slaughter of animals as a religious rite) of 65 cows provided meat to 57,350 people, with the support of Muslim Aid UK’s Myanmar office as Implementation Partner (IP).The major portion was dedicated to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of Rakhine State in Sitwe,and HHRD distributed meat, for the first time, in the villages of interior Rakhine.

Syria

March 15 marked the fourth year of the Syrian civil war that has resulted in191,000 civilian deaths, according to the United Nations. Sanctions, violence, and now deadly living conditions have left multitudes of people desperate for basic necessities such as food, water, medical supplies, and electricity. Thousands of citizens have fled to neighboring countries in hopes of finding safety. Due to the dangerous conditions on the ground, relief work has been extremely challenging. HHRD collaborates with our representatives in Jordan to provide emergency relief to the Syrian refugees (at the same time helping the Palestinians seeking refuge in Jordanand needy Jordanian citizens).

Helping Hand for Relief and Development became a registered NGO in Jordan in 2013. Currently, the four programs operating under Regional Director YaserAlkhooly are Orphan Sponsorship, Skills Development, In-Kind Gifts, and seasonal programs. In 2014, HHRD’s In-Kind Program was able to deliver 41 containers of food, bedding, clothes, medical supplies, and school furniture to Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza, and Turkey. These containers were able to assist over 130,000 people, of which over 81,000 were Syrian nationals. Our Orphan Sponsorship Program has sponsored and supported a total of 800 children in the region, of which 550 are Syrian. These children are provided with food, clothing, shoes, as well as education and school supplies. HHRD also provides them with financial assistance to cover daily living costs. These children come from areas devastated by horrific violence and poverty; our goal is to show them love through kindness, caring, and promise of a brighter future.

HHRD’s Skills Development Program is conducted at our Humanitarian Complex in Amman, Jordan. It is here that individuals are trained in computer and other skills in order to attain financial independence and stability. We offer sewing, embroidery, and handicraft courses for a three-month duration. In 2014, there were a total of 31 women who completed these courses. As a result they were able to obtain jobs or open their own businesses, and support their families. Our seasonal programs in the region last year allowed us to distribute 900 Ramadan/Fitr food gift packages to needy Syrian, Palestinian, and Jordanian families. To celebrate EidulFitr and Adha, 450 gifts were distributed to orphans, and they were also treated with a visit to a local theme park. HHRD’s Global Zabihah Program helped to distribute meat to 1,630 individuals in the region.

The winter season of 2014 proved to be extremely difficult with freezing temperatures and lack of proper necessities. HHRD’s Winter Campaign assisted 550 families by providing sweaters, socks, hats, blankets, scarves and other items. This Ramadan Iftar-&-Dinner Tent Effort will be done in Amman, Jordan.We will also do Food Packages Distribution to 400 Families at $100 per family of five in other parts of Jordan. This effort will be serving Syrian and Palestinian refugees as well as local needy Jordanian families.

Pakistan

In 2014, famine wreaked havoc in Tharparkar-Sindh, Pakistan. Due to the lack of safe drinking water, shortage of food, and inadequate shelter the impoverished community was badly affected. With all available water resources being contaminated, citizens were forced to consume unsafe water to save their lives. Consequently, various water borne diseases such as diarrhea, as well as malnutrition and pneumonia began affecting locals. Numerous deaths resulted from these conditions including that of 200 children in the area.

The HHRD-Water For Life (WFL) program took steps toward providing relief to drought-affected communities in the deserts of Tharparkar. Initially, HHRD-WFL ensured the provision of safe drinking through water trucking. After the emergency relief response in Tharparkar, HHRD continued to provide emergency relief to those affected.

HHRD conducted baseline surveys in the villages of Tharparkar and adopted Union Councils for the general provision of safe drinking water. However, Diplo, Mithi, and Nagarparkar had the most critical need of the Tharparkar-district.HHRD-WFL implemented 83 safe drinking water projects, 40 community hand pumps, 16 submersible water pumps, 25 water wells, and 2 filtration plants. The implementation of all these projects has been successfully installed by Implementing Partner (IP) Alkhidmat Foundation Pakistan (AKF). These projects benefitted about 49,918 drought-affected people in famine areas of district Tharparkar.

Palestine

HHRD is providing emergency relief to the people of Palestine in the form of food, water, medical relief, hygiene items, shelter, transportation, and In-Kind Gifts. This past year we witnessed the 32-mile-long and 7-mile-wide strip of the city of Gaza face unimaginable atrocities. With 70 percent of the 1.82 million population living below the poverty line while under the harsh restrictions of occupation, the region has been described as the largest open air prison in the world. From the late 1940s until recently the Palestinian people have faced numerous massacres and turmoil. HHRD has been active in the region since 2008 by providing emergency relief to the people of Gaza. Through UNRWA, HHRD has provided in 2012-2013 nutritious food to over 2,000 malnourished Gazan children. HHRD has also founded the “Palestinian Students Scholarship Program” with UNRWA for eight Palestinian youth between 2012 and 2017.

The recent wave of violence in Palestine has led to over 10,000 Gazans being injured , about 2000 killed and among these victims were many children. Moreover, communities have been devastated, the population has been displaced, families have been lost and destroyed, and a generation of children has been traumatized beyond repair. HHRD-Jordan has partnered with UNRWA to help provide emergency relief to the Palestinian people. Initially $50,000 worth of food and hygiene items were sent through UNRWA. Also sent werefood containers from Amman Jordan worth over $150,000, as well as a container of medical supplies from the US worth over $250,000.

Currently, HHRD is working with UNRWA to provide basic necessitypackages and winter packages for families in need. For $300 a food basket for one month will be provided to a family.For the same amount, a winter package of blankets, clothes, hats, scarves, socks, and towels will be provided to a family of five in Gaza. HHRD is a registered NGO in Jordon; our representatives in the region are currently assembling to provide necessary emergency relief. With the support of our donors, HHRD is sponsoring 100 Palestinian orphans through our Orphan Support Program. Presently, we have distributed Ramadan Food packages to 200 Palestinian families in Jordan and 72 Palestinian families in Lebanon.

Ayeshah AliAuthor Ayeshah Ali is the assistant editor of The Message magazine.

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