Looking for a reason to continue living – Elaf’s story

On this rainy night, Gary decided to take a quick short cut through the park to reach home sooner. As he was walking past the park benches he could hear a woman crying and upon looking closer noticed a teary lady huddled up on one of the benches. He asked her if she was okay.

“I don’t have a place to sleep tonight”, she replied.

Gary learnt that her name was Elaf and she had to run away from home to escape her violent husband. This was not the first time. Noticing that she was wearing the Muslim Hijab, Gary offered to take her to a local Muslim community centre that he knew of, to try and seek some assistance.

On the way there, Gary found out that Elaf was a mother of 6 children. 4 of her younger ones were taken away from her care due to her not willing to leave her husband who was violent to both her & their children. But in the last couple of nights her husband was unusually aggressive and she had sent away her older 2 kids to her friends’ house & was hoping he would calm down by the morning. Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse, and she had to run away to protect herself. Embarrassed to go to any friends for help, she decided to stay in the park until the morning.

When Gary & Elaf reached the community centre and he explained the situation, to his shock, they refused to help when they found out Gary wasn’t Muslim and started treating him as though he was responsible for Elaf’s condition. Elaf was frustrated as well and she told Gary “They’re all the same. They refuse to help and only push me from one place to another.”

Quite shocked & perplexed, the next option Gary thought of was the local church. On his way out, he noticed a poster on the wall of the centre offering help to anyone who needed it; a poster by the National Zakat Foundation Australia. He called up the 1300 number and the NZF case worker asked to speak to Elaf to understand her situation. Initially Elaf was hesitant to explain her circumstances, expecting NZF to be similar to other organisations and not really offer any help. She was taken aback when the kind lady on the other end told her that NZF would be able to provide her with immediate accommodation for the same night at one of their crisis accommodation centres.

Within NZF, our case officer who received the call immediately contacted the local team to arrange for Elaf to be picked up and we had her settled in our crisis accommodation centre in a couple of hours. Through talking to Elaf we understood that the past few years had taken a severe toll on her mentallly and she was extremely unstable and had attempted suicide multiple times. She spoke about how her friends & the community were unwilling to accept that she was struggling mentally, and seemed to always blame her family falling apart on her, despite her husband being the violent one. For some reason she was always to blame and she had past the tipping point where she could not handle speaking to any of them before. With her kids being taken away from her, Elaf was really struggling to find a reason to continue living.

We will work with Elaf to initially to address her mental health and insha Allah gradually will assist her on getting back up on her feet and being reunited with her children. Elaf is our sister, right here in Australia, and it is our duty to assist & protect her.

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Tackling the seemingly impossible – Saadia’s story

Saadia’s husband had a sudden fatal heart attack recently and passed away at the young age of 44. Leaving her with 6 children and no income. She had no money for her husband’s funeral, had a home loan to pay and 6 children to look after Allahu Akbar.

Taking into account her centrelink benefits, and casual income earned by her oldest daughter who is in uni and works casually, they were still short of approximately $500 per month.

Where was she going to get the money for her husband’s funeral?

To add to that, she was also undergoing treatment for depression to the the death of her 4 year old son in a car accident.

So what did we do to help?

Firstly we assisted with settling the expenses incurred for her husband’s funeral Alhamdulillah. Next we have had professional financial planners work with her to provide advice on the best course of action given her large family & her home loan situation. The fact that it is a riba based loan, but at the same time with a large family would it be the wisest decision to sell?

Our focus at the moment is to get her finances in control so her children can get back to their lives and then insha Allah we will work with her on how she can set her & family up to be self sustainable insha Allah.

This is how your Zakat is being used at a time of need by our sister right here in Australia. To help a single mother, who suddenly lost her husband, leaving her in depression, with 6 kids, medical issues and a loan to pay off. May Allah give our sister strength and through your Zakat, make it a means to empower her. Ameen.

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Breaking the cycle – Aabir’s story

Aabir was coming out of prison in a few days. He has been in prison for nearly 2 years this time and his family had had enough.

Aabir belonged to a pious family, who are part of the local Muslim community and Qadr Allah he was influenced by the wrong type of friends to get into drugs and other bad habits. Soon he was indulging in a life of crime, was in an out of prison and his life was beginning to fall apart. This was not the first time he was in prison for drugs, but it was the longest and his family decided they had to take matters into their own hands.

Decided he had to be moved from his immediate community to effectively get out of his habits, the family & the community made a decision to send him to a different state to be looked after by his family & friends there for a at least 1 year. This now meant they had to organise a place for him to stay, set up a safe place and most importantly the funds for him to sustain himself so money is not an issue. This is key as if Aabir feels there is a lack of money, he would very easily slip back into his life of drugs. But these were funds that the family did not have.

When we came to know about this case, we had to examine it carefully. This was a young Muslim brother with a very strong & supportive family who showed promising signs of recovering from his bad habits and becoming a strong Muslim. While Aabir is in prison, we have been assisting the family in organising an accommodation for Aabir, helping them with the funds needed to organise for Aabir to leave his home city for a short period to break the cycle.

The family is now ready to receive Aabir when he comes out of prison in a couple of weeks insha Allah. We pray that Allah guides Aabir, grants patience to his family and blesses them all with His Mercy. Ameen.

This is what Zakat is all about. Not just alleviating poverty, but utilising Zakat to make people stronger Muslims, one step at a time, so we as a community can become stronger insha Allah. This is how, through your support, we are one step closer to establishing a strong, pious, self-sufficient & sustainable local community.

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A life of ups & downs – Susan’s story

Susan had a difficult life. A single mother of three near-adult daughters, including one who has a disability, Susan was constantly under stress day & night. At 43 years old she started developing arthritis which began to slow her down even further.

Did that stop Susan from living life? No.

In fact, Susan found the meaning in her life in Islam. She became Muslim and then went on to do a lot for the Muslim community. She was an active member of various teams who were assisting Syrian refugees when they came to Australia. After a whole year of being Muslim and facing many difficult encounters, unfortunately Susan started retreating from the community. With the difficulties of looking after her daughters, her own arthritis & age, her ties to Islam started to loosen. With no close Muslim friends, and her daughters in the house not being Muslim she was really struggling with her Imaan.

Why did Susan come to NZF?

Susan has been planning to have a surgery to treat her arthritis for a few months now. However being the sole carer for her daughters and the high costs of caring for a disabled child, Susan hasn’t been able to save enough money to cover all expenses for her surgery. However, when Susan met us, our conversation revolved more around strengthening her Imaan, which she was really concerned about and how she could become a strong Muslim. Her intentions for financial assistance were sincere, she had reduced all her expenses to a bare minimum and was clearly doing her utmost best given her circumstances. She passed all our assessments and we had the full intention to assist Susan not only financially but to become a stronger Muslim, insha Allah!

How is NZF helping Susan?

Susan will be having her surgery in a few months insha Allah and we have committed to assist her long term, month on month, to cover any living costs that she is unable to cover.

The important thing to understand here is not the financial assistance, but rather, how through your Zakat, we can hope to strengthen a sisters weak Imaan, right here in Australia. And this is the real purpose of Zakat, to strengthen our community in becoming a more pious one.

Alhamdulillah, through your support, we are one step closer to establishing a strong, pious, self-sufficient & sustainable local community.

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An Imam, stranded and wanting to go back home

An Imam, married and a father of 4, Ahmed only had one dream – to provide a better life for his kids.

Ahmed was prepared to do whatever it takes to be able to give his family a safe, stable life with a promising future. Leaving his job as an Imam in his home country, he moved to Australia this year and started doing cleaning jobs to earn some money. He also started working in restaurants. However, due to a breach in visa condition the government cancelled his work rights all of a sudden. He also lost his last job with the owner still owing him money.

He found a small room that a shop owner was happy to let him stay in without rent. He has approached a small mosque here in Sydney for a job as an Imam however due to his visa status, they are unwilling to hire him. He now has no income with his latest visa application being rejected.

Ahmed is ashamed he is now in a new country, with no working rights & no income and entirely dependent on Zakat & the generosity of the Muslim community. Tired of begging people for a job, Ahmed now only wants to take his family back home and perhaps try to get a valid visa and return again.

We helped Ahmed & his family with food vouchers. We paid for air tickets for the entire family and assisted them in getting back home. May Allah make it easy for Ahmed and his family, and insha Allah he will be back under better conditions bi ithnillah.

This is how your Zakat is helping those in need, in Australia.

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The Small Knight in Shining Armour

Meet Maya*, an 11 years old Muslim sister. We met her at last years Twins of Faith conference in Sydney, where she was attending with friends and approached one of our volunteers, right after our National Manager, Abu Muneer’s talk, on the work that NZF does locally in Australia.

Her first question was –  “The speaker said you help Muslims in financial difficulty, can you help me, then?”

We assured her that we could and casually asked her where her parents were.

Looking down, she said, “I don’t think they will want to meet you. They wouldn’t be happy to ask for help”.
It’s only then that it dawned on us that this little girl was not asking out of curiosity but was asking for help for her own parents and not of a friend or some other. Subhan Allah.

When we spoke to her further, she mentioned that her father had recently lost his job so things were tough now. However, her parents were always hardworking and are the type of people who pay Zakat and not ask for it.

Her parents had tried everything in their means to provide for the family, but now it had reached a point where they could not even afford buy basic items. Upset Maya told us that she and her siblings had no food to eat that day.

We connected her to one of our case workers immediately and got her some lunch. The caseworker developed a good rapport with Maya, who by the end of their time together passed on her contact details for her parents, and informed us that she would speak to her mother and try to convince her to ask for help.

Alhamdulillah. Allah softened her mother’s heart to come to our Zakat centre and meet up with us a few days later. She said, if it was not because her daughter, she would never have had the courage to come and ask for help.

We are now assisting the family with temporary financial relief while they focus on getting their life back together. Insha Allah they will be back on track soon and we are glad we were in a position to help such a hard working family. This is just one of thousands of cases here in Australia that your Zakat has assisted.

*Names and identities have been altered to protect privacy.

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Black and blue

What would you do if the one you trust and love the most, turns his back on you?

Farhana* had been married for a few years when she sadly began to realise that the love she once shared with her husband had turned into sessions of curses followed by beatings from him. Her once protective and loving husband now beat her up on a daily basis, blaming her on little things that irritated him.

“They (your wives) are your garment, and you are a garment for them” (2:187)

Her nightmare became worse day by day. She began to be threatened by him quite frequently, with daily beatings not being uncommon. Living on the outskirts of New South Wales and only being able to speak in Arabic, the insecurity and loneliness often made her feel suicidal. She knew that she could end the marriage by filing for a divorce, but then again, what will she do next? She hardly knew anyone in her immediate community! She thought it would be uncommon for Muslim couples to go through a divorce and the fear of the local Muslim community not understanding her was something that was preventing her from taking any action.

Will the community believe her or her husband?

Better and stronger

Farhana* came to NZF around mid-January through her friend’s referral, when the abuse turned really bad. She needed temporary accommodation away from her previous home for her protection, and some basic needs to help her back on her feet. She got a divorce late January and is currently fending for herself in terms of trying to earn some money to make ends meet. Being a single woman, foreign to a country she once had high hopes in, she was falling into depression before she met the NZF team.

NZF organised for a secure temporary home for her. A caseworker was assigned Farhana to care for her until she was mentally better to look after herself. She received counselling, food vouchers and support to participate in self-building seminars to build up her confidence.

Alhamdulillah, she is now a stronger and more positive woman. After everything she went through, we can safely say that Farhana is a survivor. We pray that with her past behind her, this is now a new chapter in Farhana’s life, made possible through your help!

Local Zakat for Local Needs. Keep an eye out in your community for more people in need such as Farhana and refer them to us!

*Names and identities have been altered to protect privacy.

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Couch Surfing – Sounds like fun?

Couch surfing. The term means different things to different people. For 5 year old Christina it meant looking for a different place to live every second day. Since she was 5, Christina was no stranger to being in and out of refuges, foster care, living on the streets, begging for a place to sleep, abusing drugs and more. But over the years some things had changed. Christina became Fathima, and she was now, 17 years old, Alhamdulillah.

With Islam, Fathima got rid of the drugs in her life. Coming from a family with a history of drug abuse, this was not easy. However she now had a new challenge – most foster homes / refuge centres were not were supporting of her living with them as a Muslim! She was also now beyond the age to receive assistance from FACS and was struggling to get on the Centrelink system.

When Fathima was referred to NZF, we worked with her to get a long term Muslim support worker and a Muslim family to stay with for in the interim. We paid for her lodging and other expenses and helped her get onto Centrelink. Fathima has now found accommodation for herself, is on Centrelink and is able to support herself with the Centrelink Allowance, Alhamdulillah.

Know someone like Fathima? Get in touch with us today so we can assist!

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Is life really better here? – Rabia’s story

Rabia looks around her. The clean air, the birds chirping, the absence of gun-fire. Alhamdulillah she had made it to Australia along with her husband and 4 kids. They had made it out of Syria to the land of promises – Australia.

But it wasn’t easy. Abdullah is now disabled, in bed and needs medical attention. Everything here is very expensive. They said the government would pay for everything, but they barely covered the rent for her 1 bedroom apartment.

Rabia looks at Abdullah again. He seems peacefully asleep. A feeling of despair comes over her. Where is she going to find the funds to help Abdullah get the medical attention he needs?

How is she going to single-handedly look after her 4 kids in a new country?

She doesn’t even speak English. She thinks they might have been better off in Syria, but then she remembers how her family was tortured. The trauma. Surely, this is a better place for her family.

It’s up to Rabia to make this work. Rabia will rise up and face the challenge insha Allah.

NZF is now assisting Rabia with regular payments to alleviate the financial stress the family is going through, while at the same time assisting Rabia with culturally appropriate counselling and helping her get her kids into school.

Help Rabia . Support NZF. Using your Zakat to help those in need locally.

Click here to pay your Zakat today.

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Life’s ups & downs – Ahmed’s story

Life is going well.

You have a senior executive position at one of Australia’s leading organisations. 6 figure salary, 5 kids, you don’t have much to complain about.
You look back 20 years ago and it sends shivers down your spine. Alcohol, drugs, a broken marriage, off the path of Islam … your life was not always this good. You recollect the days you spent in rehab when the doctor told you that you only had a short life left; when you had time to reflect; the spark that started your journey back to Islam.

Things started improving when you dropped the drugs, the alcohol and started praying. You had the occasional break down every now and then but you picked up a career, got yourself a job, got married to Amaal and together you had 5 beautiful kids.

And then the discrimination started at work; the bullying; the harassment.

You couldn’t take it any longer. You quit. Things started getting rocky with you and Amaal. She divorces you. She takes the kids. You get desperate. You run out of money. You are in debt.
All of a sudden you’re all alone. No job. No family. No money. In your little dark place.

This could be your story!

Ahmed was lucky that Allah showed him NZF. We are currently assisting Ahmed in setting up his own business utilizing skills he already has so he can sustain himself in the long term and turn his life around.

Help Ahmed. Support NZF. Using your Zakat to help those in need locally.

Click here to pay your Zakat today.

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