Sunday January 15th 2017 marks a special date for hundreds of Palestinian orphans as they set off on the journey of their young lives in a convoy of coaches from Amman, Jordan, to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia.
Accompanied by Islamic Help staff and volunteers from the UK and Jordan, the travellers will include 250 orphans, 50 huffaz (those who have memorised the Qur’an) girls and 50 widows from orphan families. Later, another team of IH staff and volunteers will accompany 40 disabled children by air to Saudi where they will meet the rest of the group for Umrah.
The trip is the fourth carried out by Islamic Help as part of our unique and pioneering Umrah for Orphans programme, designed to provide psycho-social support for Palestinian orphans as part of our global orphans and childcare programme.
Like those who took part in our previous Umrah for Orphans, the children – born in Jordan but classified as refugees – will be on their first trip out of Jordan.
It means that since the launch of this unique initiative, more than 1,000 Palestinian orphans have experienced Umrah.
As well as performing Tawaf around the Ka’aba, they will go to Madinah to pray in Masjidun Nabi, the mosque of our blessed Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). The journeys have proved to be emotional and life-changing and have only been possible thanks to the tremendous generosity and support of our donors.
Muhammed and Abdul Rahman: Among those taking part in the January 2017 Umrah for Orphans are brothers Muhammed (left in photo) and Abdul Rahman.
Abdul Rahman was only 7 years old when his father was electrocuted and he witnessed his father’s last breath. Their mother was expecting Ra’faa, who is now 3 years old, at the time.
The boys had dreamed of going to the holy lands but with the family surviving on the equivalent of just £30 a month after rent, it had been just a dream until now. The family said the pilgrimage would soften the blow of losing their father and give them the opportunity to pray for him at the holiest place on Earth.
On hearing that they were going on Umrah, the excitement was such that as soon as he was told Muhammed quickly made wudhu (ablution) and prayed 2 rakaat nafl to express his thanks to his Creator.
Muhammed Ajjazzi: Muhammed has cerebral palsy as did his sister, Tamara, who was a year younger than him. Their father divorced their mother who was left to bring up the disabled siblings on her own.
Last year, Tamara suffered a chest infection and passed away. For Muhammed, the loss was intense. Tamara was not only his sister but his closest companion. Her death dramatically affected him. His education suffered and his grades dropped. He lost focus and said he could not contemplate living without her.
Muhammed and Tamara were part of Islamic Help’s orphan sponsorship programme and choosing him to go on Umrah reawakened his desire for life, giving him renewed energy and hope. He began learning his Surahs (Quran verses) and praying, and said he wanted to perform Umrah for his beloved sister who was no longer with him.
You can experience the joy and emotion of the 2015 and 2016 Umrah for Orphans including our documentaries here. Islamic Help will be regularly updating our website and social media with the orphans’ journey as part of the 2017 programme. You can follow their progress here or on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.