Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ramadan Fund Raising and Updates on the GSH Project

Bismillahil Wahhab, wa Ni'mal Razzaq
In the Name of God, the Bestower, the Best of Provider

1.
Injustice, no matter in what form it comes: whether social, political or economic injustice - is shun in the most unambiguous message across all faith traditions. In truth all faith traditions, the movement that rose - if one trace back their roots - one will find that it was primarily injustice in community / society which was the single most important driving factor that gave rise to every single movement out - of which a tradition, way, faith or religion took shape and evolved. Doing good to one and many, nullifying injustice, doing away inequality and uniting humanity was the genuine goal of every faith tradition, without exception. That was the mission of every luminous beauteous human beings.

The very mission of Mighty Messenger Moses rescuing the Children of Israel out of Egypt was because they were severely oppressed, enslaved generations after generations and were subjected to inhumane conditions. It was extreme injustice which was the backdrop for the sacred activism that was entrusted to Moses which he with the help of his brother Aaron almost in super-human quality provided leadership to.

It was the glaring existence of division among different sects, religious group and all kind of suffering which made Prince Gautama Siddartha to abandon everything to contemplate upon the solution to human society. At a time when people of one sect couldnt even travel freely to another village in fear of being persecuted, when one group of people would deny basic human rights to another group of people in the excuse of religion (unjust caste system), Buddha with his genius transcendental teachings dissolved all such differences in creating his spiritual community (sangha) having no division and inequality among any member.

Christ was extremely vocal and a revolutionary hero against the corrupt religious elite (the pharisees and hypocritical religious doctors) who on a regular basis, on the excuse of religion exploited the poorest of the poor, turned the holy temple into a place of monetary transactions, selling certificate to salvation and imposed taxes by giving fatwas (religious injunctions, opinions). The trial of Christ and his persecution by the power elite was more a political case for speaking against injustice and corruption, for speaking naked truth than any theological argument and blasphemy.

It was economic and social inequality, inhumane slavery and gross violation of human rights in his society which first made Muhammad, the Last Messenger to go into deep contemplation about how to resolve this and establish a harmonious society, uniting all its member as equal before One Creator. Ya Ummati, Ya Ummati, 'O my community', 'O my community' was his constant cry, out of compassion and deep concern for their betterment. The biggest contribution of Islam, then and now is the practice of single brotherhood, and sisterhood, equality of all its members. By the striving of the Prophet, the artificial divisions and inequality was removed and slaves were freed from their bond in an unprecedented manner. The establishment of zakat (poor-due) and great emphasis on charity had a single goal alone, to dissolve economic injustice towards a better human society.

This emphasis on justice, preserving human dignity through a standard of equality and just system doesnt limit in Judeo-Christian-Islamic or Buddhist tradition and values - but spans across all traditions, as universal and transcendental priority.

Allah, the Most High says: "O My servants, I forbade injustice upon Me, and it is forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress each other." - Sacred Tradition of Islam
 
2.
Its extremely unfortunate that as global society, even though we pride ourselves as the inheritor of an age of abundance never experienced in human history, with more access to wealth, technology, and energy resources than ever before, the mere existence of poverty itself, let alone its severity and global scope boggles the mind. Ironically, the era that is responsible for the birth of the internet, space travel, and open heart surgery has been unable, or rather unwilling, to decisively and purposefully end the phenomenon of extreme and absolute poverty that affects hundreds of millions of people across the world.

% of population living below national poverty line across the globe
 
The inequality of the world is very glaring: 20% of the population in developed nations consumes and hoards 86% of the world's goods. The greed and over consumption of one section of humanity continues while extreme poverty kills more than 50,000 people every day, 18 million poor people die every year from poverty. More people die as a result of extreme poverty than any other causes, yet this aspect receive very little attention. According to FAO sources, as of 2009 there are 1.02 billion people who face severe hunger / are undernourished worldwide, a number highest since 1970. 

On one hand we claim to live in an age of information, yet nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. Less than 1% of what the world spent every year on WEAPONS to KILL was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen. Lack of education has been a major cause for perpetual poverty.

In our world, 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).

Today, nearly one billion people – about one in eight – lack access to clean water. More than twice that many, 2.5 billion people, don’t have access to a toilet. Lack of sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of infection. More than 3.5 million people die each year from water-related disease; 84 percent are children.

"The children of Adam has no better right than that he would have a house wherein he may live and a piece of cloth whereby he may hide his nakedness and a piece of bread and some water."
- Hadith, Tirmidhi

3.
The world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.
- Helen Keller

When this remain the sorry state of this tear stained world, if a major portion of humanity remain shackled under inhumane poverty that robs people of their human dignity, then there is no hope for a collective enlightened humanity.

If Buddha were alive in our age, or lets put it in another way, if any one were to attain Buddha (pure) Consciousness, an evolved awareness rising above ghaflat of common people (ignorance and unawareness), one can not help but contemplate about how to reduce suffering (because suffering of the world is suffering of the World Soul, suffering of God's Heart) - then where would one look into? In our time, the greatest suffering caused by humanity is extreme and absolute poverty and the most enlightening activism in today's world can be nothing but working towards the betterment of the life of the poorest of the poor who are so deeply into poverty. No other action in today's world is more needed than restoring the human dignity of the poorest of the poor, even if it is done for a single human being.

When his companions asked: O Messenger O Allah, what are the most excellent of actions?

The beloved of Allah replied:
To gladden the heart of human beings,
To feed the hungry,
To help the afflicted,
To lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and
To remove the sufferings of the injured.
- Sacred Tradition of Islam, Bukhari


This has been the inspiration and scope of work of Gladdening the Sacred Hearts Project for which we raised about few thousand dollars last years to help education of poor children and school that support them, to distribute winter clothing and helping the poorest of the poor. While raising the fund for the Phase II of Gladdening the Sacred Hearts (GSH) Project last April 2010, I was inspired to work towards a Foundation, so that the activities could be done in a more wholesome way, spreading the benefit even further.

Thanks to your prayers and blessings, the GSH Project has taken off. Thanks to some of the generous readers of this site, the fund we received has been utilize towards a host of activities. In order to better manage, we are in process of a creating a Foundation called "Porshee Foundation."

4.
Porshee and the Foundation

"Porshee" (pronounced as \Pour-She\ is a Bangla word for Neighbor.

Visionaries of humanity have always emphasized on the very basic idea of caring for our neighbors. For a harmonious, organically connected and healthy society it is absolutely necessary that people who live in proximity care for each other and extend each others hand in need. Regardless of where people live in the world, if people care for those in the neighbors, in their immediate vicinity - the scale of human suffering could be reduced dramatically.

Even though as human race we have advanced unbelievably in terms of our material gain, scientific inventions and technological innovations – yet when it comes to caring for our fellow human being who live next to us, we are failing in an unprecedented manner. Fellow human beings like us who are lying in the dust, starving just in front of our door step, those who are suffering in sickness silently because of lack of means for treatment - it is them who are the most easy to extend our hands to help . No time in human history have we been so oblivious to human dignity at such close proximity. 

Its wonderful that we live in an age when thanks to technological innovations we can connect to anywhere in the world without delay, we can speak to anyone in real time, – yet at the same time we are growing more and more disconnected and less caring for those who are the most nearby, our own neighbor; specially those who are in need.

Caring for and reaching out to the neighbor, which is a simple idea, carry universal value and yet have great implication towards transforming communities in a positive way by removing the suffering and preserving human dignity. The Vision of Porshee Foundation is : Communities and Societies where every able neighbor cares for those in need in the surroundings - acting locally, empowered globally based on the universal value of ‘small kindness’ and ‘loving for others what one love for one’s self.’

For a brief of the activities so far of the Porshee Foundation (utilizing the funds from Phase II of GSH Project), please click the image below to download and read the [Inaugural Report].

Click on Image to Download PDF


For a better world, "small kindness" and "loving for others what one love oneself" - are two universal values the world need to return to and are sufficient to give back the dignity to ourselves as one human family.

5.
Happy faces on the day of New School Dress at Second School (Akhaura, Bangladesh) in the community of blinds, most of these children comes from blind parents and background of economic hardship

Programs under the umbrella of Porshee Foundation include (not not restricted to) are Free Education for Children of economic hardship (including scholarships), Medical Treatment for ultra poor, Nano Credit (interest free loan to the nano-entrepreneurs) and Zero Credit (no return required investment).

Our modest class rooms and students, we keep our setup as simple and as organic as possible to best utilize our funds

Some of the beneficiaries of Nano Credit Program

Some of the beneficaries of Zero Credit Program

One of our activities have been to provide interest free loan to those who have been caught into serious debt, freeing them from the grip of the loan sharks by immediate payment of their previous high compound interest loans. At the same time we are providing them fresh fund so that they could invest in small income generating activities like buying products to resale. This is based on the Islamic ideal of Karz Hasana (means 'beautiful loan') which is given without interest to poor so that they could use the money to better their lives. This was a practice of the noble Prophet that he would give out money to poor to have sustainable income at the same time it will lift them from inhumane condition of depending on others / begging. We are very hopeful with this program, as we have seen the tremendous effect of how very small amount of investment (hence called Nano-Credit) can have super effect in the lives of those who live under absolute poverty.

Read the Report for brief case studies and example of our Programs.

6.
Giving in this blessed month: an Appeal

wa la tansawl fadla baynakum
And do not neglect to be magnanimous to one another.
- The Quran

This is blessed the month of Ramadan, the month of generosity and the month of purification in giving freely for the sake of Allah. This is a month for freeing the self from over-attachment with wealth, month of freeing from the blameworthy quality of hoarding excess.

Sufi Guide Bawa Muhaiyyaddeen reminds us "Being hungry for a month is not a fast if we take away others’ property & freedom, intending to accumulate more for ourselves. Because such acts cause others pain, the fast will not benefit anyone...We must alleviate the hunger of others, comfort them, give them clothing & make them peaceful. This will be the reward of the fast."

In the timeless message of the Isaiah we read the Divine Voice Echoes:

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
       to loose the chains of injustice
       and to lighten the burden of people,
       to set the oppressed free
       and break every bonds?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
       and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter -
      when you see the naked, to clothe him,
       and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
       and your healing will quickly appear;
       then your righteousness will go before you,
       and the glory of the LORD will be your guard.

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
       you will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I (Labbaik).

- Isaiah 58

The above is also the secret of how and when our prayers are heard, our longings are answered. When we start seeing the other as no separate than ourselves, when the suffering of others become our suffering - and we hasten to do genuine good to others and remove suffering from others just as we would like us to receive good - only then we are raised to the saintly station when prayer is answered as it is answered and when the Lord is called, thousand responses arrive, Here I Am!. Until and unless we strive to act towards others, help them with compassion, love and care - our faith is not sanctified, our prayers and our spiritual station rises not. Without that our belief only remain something as meaningless noise. May God guide us to truth and sanctify our actions.

When one knows Thee, then alien there is none,
then no Door is shut.
Oh, grant me my prayer that I may never lose
the touch of the One in the play of many.
- Rabindranath Tagore




I would like to make an appeal, fi Sabilillah, for your donation, Zakat or free will gift (sadaka) to the Porshee Foundation Fund. The money received will go directly to help the orphans, the most needy, for helping the poorest of the poor who are under debt, for treatment of those in urgent need and other services.

For secure payment via Credit / Debit Card, click on [Chipin]

Bismillah!



(download flash player if you can not see the chipin interface above)

Alternatively, for Direct Bank Transfer:

@ United States

Sadiq M. Alam
Bank of America
Branch: California
Account No: 00993-68109 (Checking Account)
Routing No for Electronic Direct Deposit: 121000358
Routing No for Paper: 122000661
Wire Transfer: 026009593
SWIFT Code: BOFAUS3N

Or, @ Bangladesh

Sadiq M. Alam                               
Dhaka Bank Ltd., Bangladesh
Account No: 210-200-14592       
SWIFT code: DHBLBDDH102    

Or, @ India

Priyasree Home
Savings A/C No: 15140100024618
The Federal Bank Ltd.
Don Bosco School Extension Counter Branch
Kolkata, India

Or, @ United Kingdom

Antonina Scott-Edeson
Account No: 51658794
HSBC Bank, UK
Branch Identifier Code: MIDLGB2166J
Sort Code: 40-34-13
(International bank account Number: GB59MIDL40341351658794)

Or, send via Western Union Money Transfer:

Sadiq M. Alam
City: Dhaka
Country: Bangladesh

You may contact me <sadiq.alam@gmail.com> for any inquiries or additional method of donation.

(The righteous are those) who feed the poor, the orphan … for the love of God, saying: 'We feed you for the sake of God alone; we seek from you neither reward nor thanks.' - The Quran 76:8-9


7.
As for the one who gives and guard oneself and confirms ultimate goodness, so We shall ease him to the ease.

But as for one who is miserly and claim to be self-sufficient and denies ultimate goodness, so We shall ease him to hardship. His riches shall not save him when he perishes.

Truly upon the Divine rests the guidance and truly to Us belong the Beginning and the End.

- The Quran 92:5-13


# Past Projects:
. Phase II of Gladdening the Sacred Hearts
. Project: Spreading the Warmth
. It doesn’t take much to spread the warmth
. Gladdening the Sacred Hearts Project: Introduction

# Wisdom:

# Naked Truth:
. Causes of Poverty
. World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics 2010
. Facts on World Hunger and Poverty
. Poverty Most Serious World Problem: Global Poll
. Poverty around the world
# Insight:
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