YOU Can Make A Difference….

The phrase “making a difference” has in recent times become a well worn and hackneyed expression in the eyes of some cynics.

But that’s a point of view that I totally DISAGREE with!!

Personally, I never tire of seeing on social media or TV or witnessing in person, groups and individuals doing amazing work to help others in society who need it – be they the poor, the sick, the homeless, those impacted by wars and natural disasters…. and others who may be doing it tough.

One organisation for whom the above saying could not be more appropriate is the Sadaqa Welfare Fund team, and indeed the question “how can we make a difference?” was the very thought that inspired two Sydney brothers – during a discussion at the Mosque late one night in 2013 – to form this wonderful organisation which took little time to establish itself as a hard-working and much respected charity.

Sadaqa’s first field trip to Bangladesh almost seven years ago saw the team deeply affected by the state of the people, and they immediately realised their responsibility to assist the needy around the globe.

Sadaqa Welfare Fund is focused on working in the most vulnerable of locations: Syria, Palestine, Gaza, Bangladesh, Rohingya, Yemen, Turkey, Lebanon, Indonesia and Somalia….as well as assisting the needy here at home in Australia.

All field distributions, even at the most remote destinations, are carried out by Sadaqa team members, providing those who donate so generously the assurance that the group they donate to in Australia are the same team that carry out the distributions on the ground.

Overseas flights and accommodation are funded by Sadaqa team members’ own bank accounts and you can rest assured that your tax-deductible donations are getting to those for which they are intended.

Sadaqa’s current projects include:

  • Medical Emergency Response Team Syria
  • Syria Idlib Emergency Appeal
  • Uyghur Turks Emergency Appeal
  • Lebanon Winter Emergency Appeal
  • Indonesia Mosque Projects
  • Prosthesis Implants Gaza
  • Orphanage – Education Centre Turkey

It’s hard to believe that it’s now more than two years (December, 2017) since I was privileged to accompany the Sadaqa team on a mission to assist the Rohingyans who have flooded into  Bangladesh in their hundreds of thousands over the years to escape oppression in their homeland.

To say this journey had a profound effect on my life is a massive understatement. It was a deeply moving and humbling experience – be it distributing food to the masses, entertaining the kids (I will never forget their beautiful smiles, their singing and how they repeated everything I said!) or building water wells or women-only toilet blocks and showers. I was also fortunate in the process of securing 2 sites for Schools which are still now running with 100’s of children being educated.

But these are just a few of the many tasks that Sadaqa is faced with on a daily basis at multiple locations around the world.

Coskun Unal is Sadaqa’s Project Director, based at the charity’s South Granville site in Western Sydney (Sadaqa also has bases in Melbourne and Perth).

“I organise the response teams and pretty much always have my suitcase packed in case we have to fly out at short notice,” Coskun told me earlier this week.

“Currently, all our board members are business owners who are fortunate enough to have the flexibility to take time off work at short notice, without having to wait for an employer’s approval.

“While we are currently involved in several projects, we have a particular focus at the moment on the Syria Idlib Emergency Appeal.”

No doubt all of you are aware of the devastating situation in Syria, a country oppressed for many, many years.

“Idlib was one of the last cities to succumb to the tyranny of the Government, as the proud citizens stood up for themselves and sought justice,” Coskun explained.

“But sadly, they eventually were forced to flee, with several thousand being killed in airstrikes and over half the city’s population being forced to evacuate with little or no notice”

Coskun says that almost a million displaced Idlib residents and their families are stuck in a ‘safety zone’ near the Turkish border, as Turkey has closed its doors, for now at least.

“The situation is dire….certainly we in Australia have no idea how lucky we are. It’s not just the physical aspects which are the by-products of war.

“War also brings about family structural issues – a family structure can go from 100 to zero in a matter of seconds.”

Coskun says that the huge number of Syrians in the ‘safety zone are facing massive hardship, with no permanent housing and only tents for shelter.

“The winter is bitterly cold and some of the kids have no shoes and no jackets to ward off the elements.

“At the moment, we are trying to raise as many donations as we can to provide these poor people with the basic essentials like boxes of food, water, blankets, jackets and boots.

“We also have two rehabilitation centres with around 150 patients and donations are also desperately required for schooling and housing.

“The Turkish Government has deemed that there will be no more tents but properly constructed concrete and brick homes with shared toilets.

“The Government is currently brokering a deal with Syrian landowners to buy or lease parcels of land from them, after which permanent dwelling will be constructed with the assistance of Sadaqa and other charities from around the world.”

Coskun says that Sadaqa Welfare Fund is currently covering and assisting the Syrian crisis across three countries: two teams in Lebanon, the northern border of Syria and around the Turkish border where the Australian team is working with the Turkish Red Crescent.

There is not a day goes by that people in various trouble spots across the globe don’t benefit from Sadaqa’s compassion, hard work, proactiveness and meticulous planning.

To this end, Coskun will next month embark on a journey that will take him firstly to Lombok in Indonesia (the scene of a devastating earthquake in 2018), then to Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong in Bangladesh (where the latest Rohingya refugees are located)…. and from there to Turkey and Lebanon.

The work is never-ending, and Sadaqa Welfare Fund has my total admiration…..as an inspirational organisation that truly IS…..”making a difference”.

All donations are gratefully received and are tax deductible. And remember that no donation is too small.