Many people in Islamic Help know I was among the first to go with IH to Tanzania in 2009 and it was quite upsetting to see such a country that has so much beauty facing problems of poverty. When I came back to the UK, I made the intention to visit Tanzania at least once again with the hope that I could help make a difference but due to personal circumstances and responsibilities I had to wait five years.
With the help of many loved ones (and a half marathon in Edinburgh), I was fortunate enough to raise the money before the deployment date which gave me enough time to prepare with the Mission team. I was told I would be a part of the water and sanitation team. With me being more of a ‘hands on’ person who enjoys a bit of graft, I was really excited and looking forward to the challenge that was awaiting me in the village of Matandu.
The water and sanitation project involved us building a set of 8 cubicle squat toilets in the local school from scratch and to go with it a mini harvesting system and water tank which would be used for washing hands etc.
Our tasks included building and plastering the walls of the cubicles along with the construction of the roof, the concrete water tank and the piping system that would transfer the water from the roof to the tank. The 5-6 days that we worked on the project were extremely hard and tiring as we would be out working in the blazing heat from 9 till about 4 in the evening but despite this the team was determined and motivated from day 1 to finish off what we had started.
However due to some unforeseen circumstances and setbacks along the way, we were unfortunate to fall short of seeing our project being. Even though both the UK and Tanzania staff assured us that this project would be completed, for me this was quite upsetting as both me and my team members (Tahir and Arousa) had done everything in our power in order to make that vision a reality but even that didn′t seem enough. Stepping away from the project made me realise what hardship NGOs go through on a daily basis in that they try so much in helping others but sometimes they fall short.
Away from Matandu, we were also fortunate enough to travel to Dar Es Salam to visit the Eco Village that is being built by Islamic Help. In my honest opinion, words could not describe this amazing place, it′s something you have to witness for yourself. But the saying “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime“ came to mind when I first saw the Eco Village- a well thought out idea by Islamic Help to provide a sustainable living and future for orphans. Going around the Eco Village and seeing all the different features gave me a positive feeling as I felt that I could physically see where many people’s donations had actually gone.
The whole Mission Possible programme gave me an insight into how an NGO operates when delivering its projects. From the fundraising to the planning and preparation and finally what needs to be done and the decisions (that may not seem right at first) that need to be made to execute the project.
I feel as I have also developed myself as a person in that I have taken back many lessons and skills that I can and will apply in my day-to-day life. The deployment was a massive eye opener, seeing as I realised there are so many things that we take for granted in the UK. But the most important thing that I took back was the positivity, contentment and smiles on the face of the Tanzanians we came across. Even though they had so less, it seemed as though they were just happy and thankful to Allah that they were alive.
I would like to thank Islamic Help for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this great programme, the coordinators from the UK (Aqib, Kamran and Zain) and Tanzania (Ahmad, Sulaiman and Nouriya) who spent a lot of time and effort and actually went out of their way so that the deployment could go ahead and also all the individuals who donated towards the Mission Possible cause. If it wasn′t for you guys we wouldn′t have been able to take part in this experience.
I would also like to give a special mention to all the volunteers who were a part of the deployment. Despite us being from different backgrounds, we were all able to get along, have banter and when it came down to it, work in an effective and professional manner. I would strongly advise anyone to take the time and find out more about this programme and if they can, sign up and be a part of this life changing experience known as Mission Possible.