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Volunteer Week Spotlight: Umaymah Bendraou

I have been volunteering with Islamic Relief for about four years. Islamic Relief was very involved with my high school (Manchester Islamic Grammar School Girls) and this is how I was introduced to charity work. We did many events together such as “Night under the Stars” iftar, Mother’s Day high tea, and the well-known campaign Charity Week.  

Islamic Relief events were a highlight of my high school experience, and I knew that my journey would not stop at the end of high school. As my mum was a core volunteer with Islamic Relief, this further encouraged me to be more active and involved as well. Now, I’m a student at Liverpool John Moores University studying Pharmacy.   

Ramadan is a very busy month in the charity sector; many activities and events take place from iftars to mosque collections. This Ramadan, my main role was managing the Cake Campaign for the Northwest region. I was responsible for overseeing the orders and ensuring that the deliveries were given to drivers. This was a great opportunity that enabled me to further develop my leadership and organisational skills. 

Ramadan is the best time of year and it’s incredible to see people’s heart’s softening, our connections to Allah growing, and more charity being given feesabilillah.  

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to go to different masjids around Manchester to do Taraweeh collections for Islamic Relief. The highlight of my Ramadan volunteering experience was the “Night in Jerusalem” iftar. We decorated the marquee in a traditional Palestinian style and even incorporated tatreez patterns which are a symbolic part of the Palestinian culture.  

Additionally, we welcomed the guests, hosted a quiz and auction, and served authentic Palestinian food. The proceeds went towards emergency surgeries for patients in Palestine, which is such an important and often overlooked cause. 

Oftentimes, we tend to look at the catastrophes happening all over the world where people are affected by poverty, war, illness and so much more – it can be so demoralising. By volunteering with Islamic Relief, it has highlighted to me that we are able to make a difference in this world, by giving our time or by donating money, lives are being saved. As Allah (SWT) tells us in verse 32 of Surah Al-Maidah, “… and whoever saves a life, it will be as if they saved all of humanity…”. 

Being a volunteer has helped me develop into the woman I am today. It allows me to see the world in a different way, it has taught me about Islam, about gratitude, and has given me many transferrable life skills. It is us volunteers who truly benefit from the work we do – we gain reward and build our place in Jannah bi’ithnillah all while helping others and having fun.

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