In our interviews with Muslim charity and relief organizations, Muslims For Humanity page likes to share with its readers a diversity of role models and inspiring humanitarian projects.
In this interview, we shed the light on Sofraa Foundation, an NGO founded by a young Muslim who aspired to play a role in showing the true face of Islam by helping the poor and needy people everywhere.
We would like to thank brother Khaled Mahmoud, the founder of Sofraa, for taking our questions:
Editor: Would you please introduce your organization “ Sofraa” to our audience and give us some ideas about your mission?
Sofraa is a non-profit charitable organization, constructed for the aim of supporting the overall development and the spreading of education and Islamic teachings, culture and civilization to the targeted beneficiaries. Our Vision: Sofraa aspires to see the poorest communities enjoying distinguished educational, medical, environmental, cultural and social services. Our mission is to combat poverty through developing the marginalized and disadvantaged communities, and improve their educational, medical, environmental, and professional services as well as offer relief services to them.
Editor: Would you brief us a bit on the current and future projects?
In Sofraa we work in two parallel sectors which are the first and main core of Sofraa vision which is the sustainable development, second reliefs and community service. Because you can’t make a long term sustainable
development countries that lack education, health, clean water without doing relief and community service projects, people will hate you they wont understand that you are looking for their best but after 5 or more years, They won’t believe that education is better than giving out food or digging boreholes.
So the main project now that Sofraa works on is in Uganda in Wakisi village, a compound that contains, school, childcare center/ orphanage and healthcare center. Beside that there is a volunteering facilities for international volunteers who come and help us with their efforts.
We are now finishing the construction of the school which contains 10 classrooms, science lab , computer lab , library , and a workshop and now we are collecting funds for the furniture and labs. It is proposed to be opened next February at the beginning of the new educational year.
Next starting from the end of this year we will start building the childcare center/orphanage then next year we will build the healthcare center.
And for the relief and community service projects we have finished digging 94 water boreholes all of Uganda, give out 3000 Ramadan food bags that can fit the need of a family for 2 Ramadan weeks to help them with the fasting, sponsored the education of 15 student in both university and school, build 6 mosques and we bailed out 35 person on debt after paying their debt
Editor: How did you come up with the idea of your organization“Sofraa”? And why?
My interest to help out the needy especially in Africa started when I was 14 or 15 years old when I used to see celebrities visiting Africa and helping out and all what we know about Africa is war and diseases and if anyone thought about traveling there he wouldn’t probably return back safely. So I had the question about wouldn’t the celebrities fear about their selves more than us! Something was wrong seeing all those people in need and 99.9% of the Arab world and 90% of the Muslim population doesn’t spread out a helping hand.
I started searching and knowing more about Africa but I didn’t have the chance to travel until one day I submitted an application for volunteering with Mr. Ahmed ElShuqiery the presenter of Khawater TV. show, and Alhamdullah I was accepted. I had the chance to travel to Uganda and volunteer for 5 days in an orphanage in Maligta village and Alhamdullah that was a shocking life changing enlightening trip. I had many sad questions without a reasonable answer.
It all was about where are the Muslims and Arab world from this !! why all I see here helping out are European or American non Muslims volunteers !! How come we don’t think that Allah would judge us about this because truly we are one of the reasons about how badly these people need help. The journey was over but I promised myself it wouldn’t end here, I will return and start my dream, a dream where I will help out, I will show the meaning of Islam and I will let others know Islam from our work.
I returned back after 11 months, started to plan for the project and I registered Sofraa Foundation in Uganda And from then with the help of donors who believed and saw the outcome the dream started to become a reality.
Editor: The Muslim world is celebrating Eid Al Udha, What are your plans for helping the needy during this blessed occasion?
As all the past 2 Adha Eids we fund donations from people who wants to scarify or help out and we do the Udheya, slaughter and give out the meat to the needy. We started in 2014 with 5 bullocks only(600 kilo of meat) in Uganda, in 2015 we distributed 10 tons of meats all over Uganda and 1 ton in Niger, Beside that we give out toys and new clothes to the children, This year the plan is the same we are focusing on Uganda and Niger and we will celebrate with the community the Eid, Giving out presents, toys and new Clothes for the children.
This year Udheya we have distributed 7560 Kilos of meat in Uganda and 1620 kilos of meat in Niger
Editor: Are your activities only focused on Uganda or you work in other countries?
Our dream is to help the needy and to show the true message of Islam all over the world. We are starting with Africa, Uganda and focusing to finish the project there first then we will start to spread out after gaining the experience and evaluate the whole project to learn from the outcomes and to work on any part that needs development because our first rule is to work with Ihsan. But we are also doing relief work in Niger, Ghana and for our brothers and sister the Syrian Refugees in Lebanon who the whole world isn’t paying attention that refugees are not in Jordon and Turkey only, there are more than 1.5 million refugee in Bekaa Lebanon that needs a helping hand.
Editor: Can you give us a brief about your experience on working in Africa and inspirational stories about your work there?
I realized and believed that the “Fitrah” of human being is Islam. People are born good, until exterior factors start to manipulate and covers this “fitrah” and all that you will realize from dealing with people in very very poor villages. I knew that although we are giving out help, we are the first one who needs help. We need a break from the hectic routine materialistic life that we believe that this is our life purpose. We need to wake up and see the whole picture that we wont do unless we got a break. We need to realize back the true meaning of Islam and how in the early years of Islam, it was spread and people believed in just by dealing with Muslims not by pure Dawaa. We need to know that we will be judged about what happening in Africa or places like it.
In Africa every step is inspiring but the 3 most inspiring was when a brother converted to Islam after bailing him out from jail after being on debt for 2 years. The story begins when he didn’t believe that someone from other country would travel all the way just to help out without anything in return. He didn’t believe that I am letting him go without asking something in return so he asked me why? I told him I am just a Muslim. He asked me for some books to read about Islam. I handed him some after 3 days he came to meet me and told me he finally got the answers. He had some questions about Christianity that he never got a reasonable answer for.
Another story was when I met a driver that drove me to an orphanage with food that I bought for them. He told me that it is his first time to talk to a white man and it’s a first time to see as he said so generous guy for buying food to the kids. He asked me why and the most weird question was when he asked me why I am white and he is black. I really wasn’t ready for that question but I answered him in all information that I have. My answer was because you are black because you can withstand this burning sun I can’t see my burnt skin, god if fair and because god told us in Islam (oh people we have created you from a male and a female and made you nations and tribes “to know one another”, surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the one among you most careful to his duty, surely Allah knows everything)
To know one another, so Allah said I created you different to know one another and to help one another, to spread peace and justice not to fight and occupy each other countries, to know one another and there is no difference between any of you, we are all at the same level only how we perform our duties makes the difference. He answered back that this is good reasonable answer and asked me to let him know more about my god.
The last inspiring but devastating, at my early days in Uganda I was volunteering in a place for street kids rehabilitation and I met a kid in an orphanage after that who when he knew that my name is Khaled and it is a Muslim name, came and told me that he was a Muslim before coming to this orphanage but now is Christian. I asked him about the reason and if anyone forced him to do that. He answered back that is his own will as he didn’t want to feel lonely and weird as he was the only Muslim in the orphanage and all the kids used to go to the church on Sunday morning to pray and play and sing and he used to sit alone. That story gave me a red light that the work that I intend to offer there is a must and I felt it is a message from god to show me that I am on the right track.
Editor: How can AboutIslam readers help “Sofraa” Foundation?
First following Sofraa’s page on the Social media to spread out the word and by liking our facebook page we will give out for each like 10 grams of rice that will be distributed in Africa, The first 300 Kilos of rice will be distributed this Eid Incha Allah. Second who believed in our mission, our work and wants to help out he can donate, For donations they can contact us on social media, email at [email protected] or through the website www.sofraa.org/donate.html we are now accepting funds and donations for the orphanage and for furnishing the school. Third by Volunteering , Who wants to help by his effort can travel and volunteer with us through [email protected] and we promise him a life time experience while volunteering and if he wants some break also he can enjoy the beauty of the nature, open parks safari and rafting the river Nile.