Faythema works full-time with UNICEF for humanitarian relief efforts in Africa. She also contributes her time and effort to Médecins Sans Frontières.
I asked questions during her workshop on the kind of work that UNICEF does for children and their families on the African continent. Later, we chatted informally. One topic I asked during the workshop made her uncomfortable:
"Aren't there many Muslims in those poor African countries?"
SO, how much are other (more fortunate) Muslim countries contributing to these relief efforts? She answered, "At UNICEF we help everyone [...] but as a Muslim, we Muslims just don't care about one another. Especially in Africa."
She shared her experience in Chad. On and off she's been there for more than 4 years helping children as Chad goes through extremely long droughts. Sometimes YEARS at a stretch! According to Faythema, all the humanitarian efforts there are from UNICEF and... Christian relief organisations.
She told me, "Without us, hundreds of thousands would die." She's even thankful to the assistance from Christian organisations (me too). Asked about international Muslim relief organisations, she just smiled. There is NONE that she's come into contact with in her work for more than a decade with UNICEF.
One of her stories is about this Muslim mother who walked for more than a week with her five children to find help after her village ran out of food and water. She finally reached the UNICEF camp... but three of her kids died along the way. She didn't even bury them. She kept going for the other two who are still alive. There are other stories but Faythema said I have to be there to really understand.
In Islam all Muslims are sisters and brothers... we are supposed to help each other, especially those who are less fortunate than us. How far is this true?