Ashton community organises 3rd Annual Fundraiser for Clean Water
Minhaj-ul-Qur’an (Ashton) alongside the community of Ashton-under-Lyne organised their third charity fundraising programme. The community teamed up again with Minhaj Welfare Foundation (MWF) to raise awareness and much needed funds to build clean water facilities for families in the forgotten desert of Tharparkar (Sindh, Pakistan).
The ongoing drought has taken the lives of hundreds of children and livestock (FAO, 2017), as well as leaving many thousands displaced since 2013. According to a report by Alhasan Systems Limited (2017), there has been a dire increase in the number of deaths of children under the age of 5, rising from 173 in 2011, 188 in 2012, 234 in 2013, 326 in 2014, 398 in 2015, and approximately 480 in 2016 (Assessment Capacities Project, 2016).
According to media reports (Hyder, 2017), these incidences are still likely to rise in 2017, which suggests a deteriorating situation for health and nutrition, especially due to the drought season starting again (FAO, 2016; WFP, 2016). According to a Joint UN Needs Assessment, extreme weather scarcity has severely affected numerous districts (62% in Jamshoro and 100% in Tharparkar), which has reduced harvest by 34-53% and livestock by 48% (UNICEF, 2016). The UNCT (2017) commenced a joint UN observation mission from 13th – 17th February in drought-hit districts, including Tharparkar, Umerkot and Sanghar. The resulting mission report mentioned that many of these areas are still vulnerable and could deteriorate further if there is little or no rainfall during the next monsoon season.
Minhaj-ul-Qur’an (Ashton) initiated these annual fundraising events in 2015 held at the Community Centre of Ashton Central Mosque. Our first event in May 2015 raised net donations of £18,600 with approximately 17,500 people that were provided with long-term access to clean and safe drinking water via 42 large water pumps installed by MWF within 6-months of the event.
In April 2016, at our 2nd annual event, we raised over £23,400, this allowed a further 52 water pumps to be built within 5-months of the programme, providing more than 22,600 people with easy access to water. The cost of one large hand pump within Tharparkar is £450, benefiting approximately 300-500 people with sufficient clean drinking water for at least 10-years and the maintenance requirements are relatively low, in comparison with the tangible benefits of these pumps.
On Sunday 2nd April 2017, the 3rd annual fundraiser for the families of Tharparkar was held again at Ashton Central Mosque Community Centre (Hillgate Street, Ashton-U-Lyne, OL6 9JA). Participants included families and guests from all over Ashton-under-Lyne and other parts of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Yorkshire. It was a fabulous opportunity for families to gather for an afternoon full of inspirational talks, entertainment, and delightful food.
The event began with the host of the event, Zain Shabbir, welcoming all the attendees and various guests including: Civic Mayor of Tameside, Cllr. Phillip Fitzpatrick; Chief Inspector of the Greater Manchester Police, Umer Khan; Cllr. Mike Glover (Ashton: Hurst); Cllr. Yvonne Cartey (Ashton: St. Michael’s); Revd. Roger Farnworth (St. James Church, Ashton), and Revd. Joanne Farnworth (St. Martins Church, Droylsden).
Then co-host Allama Ali Akbar Alvi al-Qadri al-Azhari gave an outline of the programme format and mentioned that all donations will go towards helping the families of Tharparkar. Imam and Teacher at Ashton Central Mosque, Allama Qari Zāhid Sharif Rizvi, initiated the gathering by reciting a variety of verses from different chapters of the Holy Qur’an. After that, Kabeer Hussain (Burnley) recited a beautiful Na’at in praise of the Beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Imam Ghulam Mohiyuddin al-Azhari then spoke on the importance of water and how we should support this cause as a service to humanity.
Then began a series of spiritual and traditional Sufi musical performances (Qawwali) by Qaiser Qawwal Party (Bradford). A derivation of the Arabic word ‘qual’ (which means ‘to speak’), qawwali is considered to be a musical vehicle that a group (qawwals) deliver inspirational messages about Allah, the Beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his companions, as well as Sufi saints and spiritual love. Typically, the ensemble takes place within a gathering for spiritual listening (Mehfil-e samāʿ), numerous popular Qawwali’s were performed, including Allah-Hoo, Aab Meri Nigaho Me, Tajdar-e-Haram, Haq Ali, and Lal Shahbaz Qalander.
Furthermore, many of the external guests gave brief messages of appreciation for the work of Minhaj Welfare Foundation and the community of Ashton-under-Lyne in their efforts to collectively show support in serving humanity, regardless of faith, race, or even location.
“It’s absolutely wonderful that so many people have come together today to give so much to those who have so little. Just one drop of water could mean so much to somebody who hasn’t got anything; it’s like giving a life, today will no doubt help to save many lives.”
Civic Mayor of Tameside, Cllr. Phillip Fitzpatrick
“Ashton is an example of diversity, everybody coming together in celebration of that difference and taking a stance in supporting fellow human beings around the world, congratulations to everybody.”
Chief Inspector of the Greater Manchester Police, Umer Khan
“Without the basics of having clean drinking water, overcoming poverty is just a dream, but by having water: you eat better, be healthier, evolve a better infrastructure and education, learn to live and not just exist… Your help today can make a real difference, thank you for your support.”
Cllr. Mike Glover (Ashton: Hurst)
“There would not have been an industrial revolution if not for water… water is precious and today is an example of how vital water can be for people around the world.”
Cllr. Yvonne Cartey (Ashton: St. Michael’s)
After the guest speakers, Imran Qureshi (MWF Trustee) further elaborated on the work of MWF and the support shown by the community of Ashton. The audience were then shown a documentary displaying the need for water in Tharparkar and how MWF is supporting the area on a “grass roots level.”
In addition to the entertainment for the afternoon, a young rising artist described by many as the ‘Pride of Ashton’, Shahbaz Hassan Qadri recited in praise of the Beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. The performance was enjoyed and much appreciated by the gathering, including many of the guest speakers that were amazed and spiritually uplifted by his performance.
The final concluding message and supplication was by the Minhaj-ul-Qur’an International UK President, Syed Ali Abbas Bukhari, thanking all the organisers and everyone that has supported the people of Tharparkar. Then the was a short break for Asr prayer, after that a three-course dinner was served to all the attendees, which was sponsored by several groups (including Eastern Catering, Oldham) and was greatly appreciated by the entire congregation. With over 300 people attending, this year’s charity fundraiser exceeded expectations and raised over £22,000 for the vulnerable community of Tharparkar. All of these donations will go towards building even more clean water facilities for vulnerable communities affected by drought.