Byline: Nazim Ali

“It’s a great honour and I’m profoundly humbled to have arranged the eighth ‘Creating Smiles’ gifts initiative to celebrate the life of Prophet Isa (Jesus) – may Allah be pleased with him.

We are living in unprecedented times with Covid-19, and I was determined to carry this initiative on to spread goodness and positivity. It will be a stressful time for parents to have children in hospital, during the festive season, so if I can alleviate some of the worries, for a little while even, I believe I’ll have achieved a lot.

Just prior to Christmas, we dropped off over 30 gifts for poorly children at the Children’s Ward in Airedale Hospital. The diverse range of gifts included cuddly toys, children’s DVD’s, play sets, babies toys and so forth, with a mixture for boys and girls.

It was a gesture of kindness, to show that people do care and think about them (poorly children), and ultimately want to uplift their spirits. This is the fifth gift-giving at Airedale Hospital (in 2020) during the Covid-19 period over the past nine months.

The gifts are for all children in the wards, irrespective of faith. Prophet Isa (Jesus) may Allah be pleased with him’s life’s teachings has the universal concept of kindness and compassion to all particularly those in need.

Pious Islamic saints would say, ‘Whoever wins a child’s smile has opened his door into Paradise’

It is these values that bring all people together regardless of belief and we hope we have achieved this at some level. We realise this is a period of celebration for our Christian friends. However, it is also a period where we should reflect and support the most vulnerable in society. To this end we felt the need to make a proactive difference especially during this particularly difficult period of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a child I spent a significant period in hospital due to my struggle with TB, and can empathise with what the children are going through. The doctors and nurses did not look at my faith or ethnicity when they nursed me back to full health, and I very much have the same philosophy.

To date, well over a thousand gifts have been distributed from my 24 visits to children’s wards to hospitals within the Bradford District. This also includes Christmas Gifts for the last four years. Those hundreds of smiles of innocent poorly children has certainly enriched me and humbled me.

I express my gratitude to Haji Shiraz Ahmed & Haji Faraiz Ahmed (Managing Directors) of Bradford-based Saveco Cash & Carry for their kind and selfless on-going support. They have been the main sponsors for the now five times a year ‘Creating Smiles Gifts Initiative.”