Naureen Aqueel

Posts Tagged ‘children

An edited version of this article was published in Islamic Horizons magazine, published by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) 

Scouts - 65th IMO - 01

Murjan Hammad, 17, Senior Patrol Leader for boy scouts, walks up to the front of the room to begin the scouts meeting for Troop 1576 at the Sterling ADAMS centre in Virginia on April 17, 2012. The laughter and chatter among young boys in scout uniforms aged between 10 to 17 dies down as expectant eyes follow their leader. Hammad outlines the agenda for the meeting. They are going to play a game today. Each scout has to complete a list of 10 native plants and 10 native animals that they can find and submit it in the next meeting. It’s almost Maghrib time and beginning to get dark. The scouts proceed to the outdoors to begin their activity. They have to come back in to perform their prayers. They also play a game of ‘anti-over’ before they return to resume their troop meeting.

This is a typical day of the boy scouts meeting at the ADAMS Centre, Sterling. Similar Muslim Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts belonging to the national Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and Girl Scouts of the USA organizations, but sponsored by mosques and Islamic centers and thus having exclusive Muslim membership, can be found throughout different cities in the USA and Canada. According to the Boy Scouts of America, Scouting membership in the American Islamic community in 2010 was over 2000 divided into Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers in the approximately 91 Muslim units associated with the BSA. There are no clear statistics on Muslim membership in the Girls Scouts, but reports have mentioned a number of exclusively Muslim Girls Scouts troops existing in states across North America. Muslim boy and girl scouts can also be found in troops that are not exclusively Muslim. Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Chicago, Brooklyn, Sterling, Houston and Dallas are some of the cities that have active Muslim Scouts groups.

Scouting in the Muslim community has a long history that extends beyond the borders of the USA and Canada. “Scouting is not an American thing,” Assistant Scoutmaster at ADAMS, Yusuf Rambo explains. “There has been scouting in Muslim countries for as long as scouting has been around in the world. It has been there in countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for a long time.”

The Scout Association of the UK estimates that more than a third of all scouts worldwide are Muslim. According to Dawud Zwink, former Vice President of ISNA, who served as Chairman of the National Islamic Committee on Scouting from 1990 to 1993 and is currently working as Facilitator at the Canadian Muslim Fellowship of Scouting, persons with Scouting experience in Pakistan and Lebanon played a major role in the development of Islamic Scouting in the USA in association with the Boy Scouts of America.

“Brothers from the Muslim American Society (MAS) developed their own groups that are now affiliated with BSA,” explains Zwink. “Brothers and Sisters from the African American community have developed their own Scouting organizations, some originating in the black liberation movement organizations of the 60’s and 70’s with many independent of BSA. The community headed by Warth Deen Muhammad has developed Scout groups that are affiliated with BSA.”

Scouting is a unique youth program in that it engages young people in fun-filled activities that lead on to build a sound character and strong personality. The fact that it includes activities viewed as fun by the youth, beyond those limited only to the religious domain, helps provide for the youth a platform where they can enjoy and be themselves while at the same time being involved in constructive activities that help them learn essential life skills. It is also an effective means of involving Muslim children in the mosques and Islamic centers where they can build healthy friendships with other Muslims.

“The whole premise behind boy scouting is teaching our boys leadership skills through outdoor activities that test them — a leader only gets to be a leader after going through some trials,” remarks Rambo. The rank structure that is an essential component of scouting helps reinforce the aspect of challenge based learning and competition. “As you slowly acquire a new skill, they transfer you to another rank. Boys and girls have a value for accomplishment. Our whole aim is to trick the kids into teaching them leadership skills by masking them into fun and play.”

Rank advancement culminates in the Eagle scout rank. A scout must accomplish many things before reaching the Eagle rank but once the rank is achieved, it is an achievement that helps the scout immensely in the future. When an Eagle scout goes to college or in the job market, the employer knows that everything else in that person’s life is also exemplary. For Girls Scouts, the highest rank is known as Gold.

Scouts can earn merit badges in a number of activities of interest that they engage in. The BSA lists more than 100 merit badges that Scouts can earn. The subjects range from archaeology, astronomy, art, family life and chemistry to skating, swimming, painting, camping, theater and veterinary medicine. The merit badges are ways to introduce the youth to all the opportunities out there for them that could be potential career options. In addition to the regular merit badges, Muslim Scouts can earn special emblems by studying certain subjects of theology as well as by engaging in faith related community service.

Each scouting group has an activity based program suited to the needs and interests of the children that participate. Most groups meet every week or every alternative week. Perhaps one of the defining features of Scouting that distinguishes it from other youth programs is the opportunity it provides to young people to get outdoors and do things that cannot be done at home or in the neighborhood. Activities like camping, rafting, canoeing and biking are among some of the appeals of Scouting that helps attract a large number of youth.

Each Scouting group also decides its own method of action and program content. So while some centers may not focus too much on Islamic knowledge and lessons in their activities other mosques and centers might choose to keep their program religion-centric by incorporating examples from the Quran and Sunnah. For example, Faiza Rahman, Girl Scouts coordinator for the MAS Youth Center of Dallas explains how her group always uses examples from the Sunnah. “When we teach the girls about the aspect of honesty in the Scout Law we also tell them stories of the Prophet (saw) and how he used to be honest.”

Scouting is also instrumental in providing Muslim youth with mentorship in the form of positive relationships with adults that serve as good role models. Some groups also have chaplains who provide spiritual guidance to the youth on issues of concern to them.

“For me as a mom, this is the best thing you can offer to your children for friendship, leadership and fun,” says Badria Kafala, mother of 12-year-old Yosaf Omeish who is a boy scout. Kafala put her son into Muslim scouting so that he could have Muslim friends from the community. “It helps the kids especially when they are teens – they can have a group where they can spend their time. It also helps build personality and self-esteem, and they learn from their leaders who are older boys. In scouting they practice leadership at the age of 11. It also gets them involved in various activities like hiking, canoeing, community services…so many things they can’t do in their own home and family.”

Hadia Rizwan*, another mother whose 8-year-old son was part of a cub scouts den in San Antonio, Texas last year feels that the entire experience was a positive one. “They teach the kids a sense of responsibility and there is focus on physical fitness and doing your best,” she says. Her son, however, had to stop going to the scout group because he started Quran classes during the same time.

The ADAMS Scouting troops participate every year in the Camporee with 100 other scouts from different troops which include non-Muslims. “We don’t segregate ourselves. How else are we going to be ambassadors of Rasulullah (saw) unless we don’t participate?” asks Rambo. “In camps we make sure we do not miss out on our Wajibaat like Salah. We let the kids understand that they serve as an example to the community at large. If it is during Ramadan, we fast. We eat halal food. We make sure we have a presence within scouting at the national level.”

“Scouting instills in young people, values that last a lifetime and cultivates ethical character as expressed in the Scout Oath and Law,” explains Zwink. “Scouting trains young people in citizenship, service, and leadership. We also offer our members a wealth of useful knowledge and skills. Scouts have the opportunity to learn fascinating and useful information and to build skills and the confidence that goes with them, which will serve them throughout their lives. For older youth, extreme adventure provides new meaningful experiences, generally in the out-of-doors, to promote team-building, practical leadership applications, and lifelong memories.”

Girls scouts usually do not have the same high adventure activities and ranks are often different but the goals and values of the program are the same. “In the meetings, we participate in activities that are mentioned in the scouting book and we get badges for those,” says Ushna Ahmed who goes to the Girls Scouts group at ADAMS. “We volunteer in charity organizations and arrange events. In terms of religion, being part of scouting helps us meet Muslim friends and in my life, I know it just gives me an opportunity to do things that I otherwise wouldn’t have done.”

Scouting, however, is not without its share of critics. Some Muslim critics point out that it is primarily a Christian movement and Muslim participation is not acceptable. When posed with a similar question once, Syed Ehtesham H. Naqvi, Founder President of the Islamic Council on Scouting of North America said, “Do not see who is saying it, but look to what is being said.”

“The Scouting Law given by Lord Powell contains the same principles mentioned in the Quran,” says Naqvi. “When we are living in a country like the USA, we need to get our youth involved and this is the way. My organization has achieved a number of Dawah opportunities through the scouting activities we have participated in. We have been able to teach others about Islam and distribute pamphlets.”

The Boy Scouts of America has been working with the Islamic Council on Scouting since 1982 and has gradually made policy changes to cater to Muslim Scouts in the United States. Among the initiatives taken to cater to Muslim Scouts are the provision of halal food and a place for prayer at outdoor camping events.

The Scout Oath binds a scout to do their duty to God and to their country and to abide by the Scout Law which enunciates 12 virtues that a scout must possess including being trustworthy, friendly, loyal, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. “There is not a single aspect in the law that is contrary to Islam,” says Rambo. “If anything, the most exemplary of scouts should be Muslim scouts. Scouting and Islam go hand in hand.”

Scouting helps youth develop a positive Muslim American identity and provides a positive platform for the youth to utilize their energies. The fact that it provides a complimentary education system that can run parallel to a child’s mainstream education keeps it accessible to all Muslim children whether those attending Islamic schools, public schools or being homeschooled.

The biggest challenge facing the Muslim Scouting community in North America, according Syed Ehtesham H. Naqvi, is the lack of funding and human resource. Although Muslim Scouts have a number of dedicated individuals who are doing commendable service to the community, apart from the little funding that comes from the Islamic centers, Naqvi says he fears most of the scout leaders end up paying from their own pockets for participation in national events, meetings and other activities that serve to benefit the whole community.

Zakaria BenYaqoub, MAS Dallas Boys Scouts Coordinator points out another difficulty faced by the Muslim Scouting community: lack of involvement by parents. BenYaqoub states that parental participation in organization and mentorship is essential for a better quality Scouting program.

The Muslim community in North America needs to recognize and support Scouting as an effective program providing guidance, character development and constructive activity to the youth. In a world where parents are constantly worried about providing their children with good company, mentorship and constructive activities, Muslim scouting serves as a ray of hope.

*Some names have been changed upon request

Three-year-old Rayan needs a bone-marrow donor match in two weeks. A South Asian person is more likely to have it. PHOTO COURTESY THE SHER FAMILY

Published in The Express Tribune – city, February 19, 2011.

A Pakistani family from New York has two weeks to search for a bone marrow donor for their three-year-old son Rayan who has been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a form of blood cancer which causes damage and death by crowding out normal cells in the bone marrow.

The Shers have come all the way to Karachi because people of South Asian genetic backgrounds are underrepresented in the US Bone Marrow Donor Registry. An appeal was launched across the US to encourage South Asian people to take a bone marrow compatibility test. The family was lucky to have hundreds of volunteers get together to organise drives to find a match in different towns and cities across the US and Pakistan.

Rayan, who his uncle Rizwan Sher describes as the perfect “picture of health” prior to the diagnosis, is now in urgent need of a bone marrow transplant. As time is not on their side, doctors are pressuring the family to find a donor as soon as possible.

“Farhan and Sarah (Rayan’s parents) are busy 24/7, taking care of Rayan who has been getting intensive chemo dosage to force him into remission, a pre-requisite for a marrow transplant,” explains uncle Rizwan.

The drive began in Pakistan almost two weeks ago and the team, consisting of Rayan’s relatives and many other volunteers, has carried out drives in Karachi and Lahore. In the US, over 4,000 potential donors signed up.

“We aim to find 6,000 potential donors in Pakistan,” says Farrya Sher, Rayan’s paternal aunt.

Drives have been held in at the homes of relatives and at The Second Floor café. In the two drives held at their Defence residence, the team was able to get 480 potential donors to test for compatibility, says Farrya, adding that the number should have been higher.

The team will also be present at a blood donation camp at the Pearl Continental Hotel on Saturday and plans to hold drives across colleges in Karachi, including Nixor College and Szabist.

The process of testing is fairly simple and painless. It involves taking a cheek swab or a spit sample which is sent back to the US to be analysed for tissue typing in two weeks. Once a match is found, the donor will be required to donate their peripheral stem cells through a process known as Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) donation which is a non-surgical procedure involving the extraction of stem cells. The process does not have any long-term side effects and is perfectly safe.

The team has set up a website (CureRayan.org) and an active Facebook page with over 4,000 followers. Drives have been coordinated online and have drawn an overwhelming response from people. In an emotional thank you note to all those who have been helping them, Rayan’s parents wrote:

“And what else gives us hope is when friends and family work selflessly and tirelessly to try to find that one person from millions who will bring the gift of life to our life. When complete strangers send us messages that they want to help and get tested and organise drives and that they have Rayan in their prayers and they want to give cord bloods of their own precious babies, that gives us hope.”

Children engrossed in a book during the story telling session, ‘Khail Khail Mein’. PHOTO: NEFER SEGHAL/EXPRESS

Published in The Express Tribune – city, February 7, 2011.

Visitors, young and old alike, to the ‘Khail Khail Mein’ story-telling session held at the Karachi Literature Festival on Sunday got a dose of nostalgia as the now near-extinct grandmother’s storytime was enacted.

Little children between the ages of four to 14 sat enthralled, some cross-legged and others on their shins, on the carpet in front of the stage as three prominent children’s writers read out their stories. Other children chose to sit on the chairs with their parents or squirmed out of their grip to play a quick game of tag or hide and seek before being reprimanded to sit quietly and “listen!”

There was one group of children in uniform that had come to attend the session as a school trip on a Sunday.

Although the session began a few minutes late, parents kept streaming in with excited children in colourful t-shirts and cute bubblegumer shoes. At the end of the session, a few parents who had gathered up to meet the writers complained that they had really wanted to attend the session but had run late.

The session started with Mahnaz Malik’s talk on her book ‘Mo ka Tara’ which is the translated version by Fahmida Riaz of Malik’s famed ‘Mo’s Star’. Malik had brought a stuffed replica of Mo, the penguin protagonist. This part of the session was kept interactive as Malik asked the children questions about penguins and Antarctica, where the story plays out. Malik went on to explain how Mo spots a star which he wants to reach. “So how does Mo go to the star?” she asked.

Tiny hands shot up from the audience. “He can fly!” cried out one child.

When Malik said Mo could not fly, another child yelled, “He can go to a tall mountan!”

“He can call the star down!” said another one, causing ripples of laughter.

The next talk was by Saman Shamsie who read out parts from her book ‘The Adventures of the Slothful Slough-Off’, a story about a blue snake and its quest to make friends with other animals. This session too was interactive as Shamsie kept asking questions about the story and about the snake’s behaviour. The issue of trust that helps the snake make friends was also discussed by the author.

The last session was by far the most lively of all. Writer Zara Mumtaz, a true grandmother-like figure, kept the audience mesmerised by her story ‘Kawa aur Maina ke bachay’ as she mimicked the birds.

The children were also drawn into the story as they tried to interpret the actions of the crow and the myna and guessed what would happen next. Some children also shared the personal experiences they have had with such birds.

Mumtaz urged the children to chant the crow’s words with her each time they were repeated in the story. The principle line of the book was repeated many times by an enthusiastic Mumtaz and the excited children: “Khao chirri ki chochlay matkao ucha!”

Mumtaz was reading a story that is a part of her forthcoming bookAnna Buwa ki Kahaniyan, a collection of ten stories that she calls part of the oral tradition of our society. “The aim is to bring the old stories back again and to make them known to children,” she told The Express Tribune. “This is the oral tradition that has been passed on to us, but it will be lost if not preserved.”

Parents and teachers flocked around Mumtaz after the session, asking her if she could conduct a story-telling session at their home and school. “Do you charge if you come to schools?” asked a teacher of a private school in Karachi.

“No, I do not charge,” said Mumtaz who has been writing and reading for children since 1965. “My reward is the happiness of the children who I see.”

Mumtaz’s books come with audio CDs and she is eager to see her next book published by the Oxford University Press.

Appreciation for the effort echoed among parents and children. “It was an excellent session,” said Ambreen Ashar, who had come with her two children. “The way she was explaining and giving a lively performance reminded you of the old times when grandmothers would tell stories. Sadly, that rarely happens now. It was especially good since it taught children good morals.”

When asked what morals they had learned, her daughter 12-year-old Eraj said, “We should not be greedy.” Nine-year-old Arsalan said, “We should not take others’ things.”

“I think the opportunity children got to interact and discuss was a wonderful experience,” said Maliha Hassan who had come with her two daughters. “I feel such events should be held on a regular basis.”

An edited versioon of this was published in The News, Educationzine, March 1, 2008.

Childhood is one of the most innocent periods of an individual’s life. For those who are already raising their eyebrows at reading the word ‘innocent’ associated with children, it should suffice to say that the children whom they call ‘little devils’ are in fact at a crucial stage of their lives when consistent planning and effort can help mould them into ‘little angels’.

But the difference is indeed of that consistent planning and effort. What kind of approach is adopted has a major effect on what the turnout is. Teachers, in addition to parents, play a very important role here. They can either build a child’s life or ruin it. It is obvious then that being a teacher is no piece of cake. This role carries with it immense responsibility. Teachers not only have to teach their subjects, they also have to master the art of dealing with children, and that includes controlling their anger and not succumbing to emotions of frustration, desperation or hopelessness.

Knowing how to deal with children, how to react to misbehaviour and knowing when to be stern and when to be soft requires considerable wisdom and understanding. Teachers must know that a soft approach is, in most cases, the best method to adopt. In the few cases that require being stern, it must be clear that that does not involve inflicting physical pain on the child.

Our schools are replete with examples of corporal punishment. One case in point is the recent alarming death of 14-year-old Mudassar Aslam after physical beating by his teacher. Such examples indeed point to a very dark side of the educational system.

Corporal punishment is in no way the answer to misconduct. Students’ behaviour cannot be moulded by harsh penalties meted out to them by teachers. Such measures usually produce fear due to which certain behaviours maybe repressed for sometime but find an outlet some other time. In some cases, this practice also produces rebellion. Research has shown that corporal punishment is associated with an increase in violence and other crimes, depression, alienation and lowered achievement. It also lowers the self-esteem of the child and severely disrupts the learning process.

An interesting analogy can help make clear which approach to teaching and influencing student behaviour is better. When a freshly moulded clay pot is wet and soft, how does one handle it? Surely, anyone that touches it and does not want to ruin the intricate way in which it is moulded handles it with extreme care. They may touch it delicately on the areas needing improvement, being extremely careful not to disturb the other areas. Children too are in this moulding stage. They need to be handled with extreme care. It is their experiences at this stage of life that will shape their personalities in the future. And it is teachers who hold this in their hands.

Love and gentleness have always been more effective than harshness and aggression. Children can learn a lot more if a soft approach is adopted. However, it must be clear that this soft approach must also be principled, since being gentle does not mean compromising on rules and principles. Teachers can be firm in matters of discipline. But then, being firm does not mean being harsh. Inflicting physical pain on the student is thus not acceptable.

A wise man once said: “We can achieve through gentleness much more than with severity. Can’t we see that water grinds away hard rocks?”

Inflicting physical pain on the child is indeed a very negative method of influencing behaviour, which may not even be effective. It is thus very important that teachers realise the impact their actions can have on children and that they adopt a soft, but principled, approach that helps influence the child’s behaviour in a positive and constructive way.

An edited version of this article was published in Dawn, Young World.

Asif staggered to a stop near the street light pole and crouched down beside it, his dirty clothes just matching the colour of the pavement where he sat. He watched other children playing jovially in the park across the street. Their giggles echoed in his ears and the sight of mothers lovingly walking their children brought back painful memories.

He remembered the time when his own mother would play with him and spank him playfully for his naughty pranks. Those happy moments although beset by poverty, where shattered after the sudden death of both his parents in an accident. Within days of this incident, Asif was kicked out of the place he called home. Now, the streets were his home and loneliness his family. A tear rolled down his cheek as he watched the children play happily…

Such stories with slight variances are not rare in our country, where an estimated 70,000 children roam on the streets. An NGO by the name “Madadgar helpline” reports that approximately 15,000 of these street children between the ages of seven and fifteen are homeless and roam the alleys of Karachi.

Street children are not only those who are orphaned and homeless, in fact, some run away from home to escape domestic violence, forced labour or ill treatment by their parents. Some are also left in the streets by their own parents and forced into beggary.

Being young and alone, these children are vulnerable to various social evils on the streets. Most often, they fall prey to sexual abuse, drug addiction and crime. As they get to know each other, they gang up and get involved in crimes, pick-pocketing, theft, fights and drug addiction. They often get involved in violent brawls, are injured and treated only if social workers are there to help.

Many also become addicts of glue-sniffing and petrol sniffing from which they gain elation to forget their miseries. Such children are very vulnerable to abuse and violence as well as other evils like kidnappings and subsequent trafficking. A 2003 Madadgar report revealed that more than 252 children were abused in Karachi that year.

One wonders why such children find no other place but the streets to live? Running away from home, being rejected and distanced from the so-called elites of our society for their ‘bad manners’, ‘business of beggary’ and ‘dirty physical appearance’, these children just need the proper guidance with love and care to avoid becoming a part of the evil ‘street children culture’ spiraling up in our cities.

Do these children not have the right to be dressed in nice clothing, to play, to go to school and to be loved? For what fault of theirs are they rejected and shunned from society only to roam about the streets knocking on car windows and pestering passers-by to hand them a rupee or two to help satiate their growling stomachs?

And for that matter, what was the reason for our being born into affluent families where we can have the liberty of scoffing at these ‘dirty creatures’ and snottily fling a coin at them as if they were lesser human beings, later on flaunting our generosity for having helped them. “Where would they be without us?” we ask.

But I still wonder, why did God choose to send us here, and them there? Is our having the blessings a test for us, as to how much we help them? Would God be happy to see our attitude of detest towards them?

The way they are is a result of the circumstances they are in. They don’t have access to the amenities we do. And yet we detest them for their deprivation and isolate them for their differences. We are, in part, responsible for the situations and crimes these children fall into.

Ask any parent and you will find out how strictly they prevent their children from playing out in the streets and going out alone. But who cares for these children? Why can’t we care for them as children’s of our nation, Ummah and humanity?

At the individual level we can help sponsor such children and help them find homes if not in families like ours, in orphanages and welfare institutions where they are fed, educated and given a healthy lifestyle. And at a much smaller level, the next time you encounter such children on the streets give them hope through a smile and kind words.

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An edited version of this was published in Dawn, Young World, December 21, 2002.

It was the first snowfall of the season. Children, wrapped up in coats, sweaters and mufflers, all of different hues, giggled delightedly as the watched with fascination, the pure white snowflakes sprinkling from the sky. Amidst this jovial environment a little boy in worn and torn up clothes wearily limped across the street, carrying a stack of wood on his little shoulders. The poor ten-year-old boy, Asif shivered in the cold as he proceeded towards his home. As he watched the other children cheerfully welcoming winter a tear rolled down his cheek and he wished that winter could be as easy for him as it was for the others… Asif’s father had died one year before and now he was the only hope of his family.

With his teeth chattering due to the cold, Asif entered the slum where he lived. Tentatively, Asif entered his home made of bricks, straws and pieces of cloth. Inside it was no worse than it was outside. Asif was greeted by the same bitter and frosty cold. Inside it was drearier.

“Oh Asif! You’re finally here!” his mother hurried to him with a relieved sigh. “Munna is severely ill,” she sobbed indicating the state of his one-year-old brother. She fell into Asif’s arms and her body was engulfed into a series of shudders and snivels.

“Mom he will be alright,” Asif spoke softly trying to console his mother, although he himself was scared. Asif hesitantly walked over to see his brother who was lying on the cot. What he saw made him gasp in shock.

The little baby was lying listless wrapped in a worn out blanket, his little body trembling as he looked at him. The baby’s face was ghastly pale and his lips were almost blue. Asif picked up the baby and held him dearly. He lifted the palm of his other hand to smother the sound of his own sobs.

Cautiously, Asif put the baby down, took off his own sweater and wrapped it around the little body. Then hastily he did the next sensible idea that came to his mind. He gathered the wood he had bought and lit up a fire with his frostbitten fingers. Then he put his little bother near the fire to keep him warm.

“Mom, you take care of Munna, I’ll be right back with help.” Asif instructed his mother, his voice cracking and his vision blurred by he tears flowing down his face.

“But Asif, you’ll get cold…” his mother called after him but he had already rushed out of the house.

Asif half ran and half staggered to the hospital. He ran past happy families and warm and cozy houses but no one noticed this wretched and destitute child desperately seeking help.

Asif knew that in this frigid and callous world he stood no chance of getting help without money. All he could do now was hope for the best and pray to Allah.

Winter is a season that brings with it much of a change compared to the rest of the year usually occupied by summer. Winter may seem like a season of celebration and festivity to some of us. It may bring us incessant joy and mirth, but do we ever ponder over how much plight and distress it causes to those not well equipped with the essential accessories required to keep them warm?

Poor people living in slums have to suffer from all kinds of difficulties and hardships during winter since they have no proper shelter over their heads and no means for keeping them warm. For them, winter brings along with it a host of problems making their lives even more difficult. It is very depressing to imagine the ruthless pain these people have to endure. By the grace of Allah most of us do not suffer such conditions as we have cozy beds with blankets to snuggle into. But does it ever occur to us that as we sit all cozy and snug around the heater sipping a hot cup of coffee, other poor families might be shivering out there in the cold. Do we ever pay heed to what we have done to help them? It is a pity that neither the government nor the citizens have done anything to help these destitute people. The poor people continue to freeze out in the cold and nobody in this frigid world helps them. Isn’t this world everybody’s home? And don’t all of us have the right to live comfortably in here? So, let us all make a vow today that tomorrow we will help make a difference.

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