“We are called Harehills community Aid for a reason because it’s an area which gets enough bad publicity and we want to help change this and get some positive vibes.”
A group of men from Harehills in Leeds, have set the bar high with their latest charity drive. They’re looking to raise an imposing £15,000 to help the Rohingyan Muslims who have been forced to flee the atrocities in Myanmar to Bangladesh.
The £15,000 target is a large one, but one which will go towards the aid and support to help supply necessities which are taken for granted in this country. Things like clean water, food, and medical aid are high priorities and the money raised will go towards funding this.
There are over half a million people who are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance after they have fled from the violence in Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh.
It is largley Rohingyan women and children who have been forced to leave, with many children being left orphaned with families and homes wrecked in the violence. This has caused international outrage and people want to take a stand.
Harehills Community Aid who have been successful with their charity work in the past raising funds for people in France in need are looking to help.
With many of them being Bangladeshi themselves, they speak of their charity campaign for the Rohingyan Aid fund. Mukid Ali explains: “We came together as a group and helped numerous smaller causes around 18-months ago.
“We helped raise funds for a charity who were going over to help out in Syria during Ramadan, and we made a large donation towards that.
“The idea behind this current campaign came after my recent holiday in Bangladesh with my family.
“Being exposed to how many Rohingyan Muslims refugees are seeking help is heartwrenching.
“The situation is really dire over there, thousands of orphaned children, mothers and homeless people forced to run away seeking aid they so desperatley need.
“Bangladesh is already a third-year country, which is over populated and financially they have always been struggling, so they can’t cope with the influx of Rohingyans going over seeking refuge.”
Mr Ali narrated the horrors of witnessing the after effects of people facing atrocities first hand, and it had such an effect he wanted to help his native country and wanted the local community to help out he explained.
“When I came back the situation over there was that bad and hit me so hard, I decided to get us all together and do something, so we are targeting getting the community on board.
“This time we are really going for it and want to push ourselves as much as we can, we did a lot with the France Aid we did but we believe we can do more and get the community on board even more.
“We have set ourselves a really high target of £15,000, but we know this can be achieved. This will be different though as we all can’t just drive to Bangladesh like we did France, and you can’t just transport things like food and clothes because it becomes too costly.
“So, we decided that one of us will go over in person. I myself have taken that responsibility and will hand over the money.
“I will be covering the cost of this myself from my own pocket. None of what we raise will be going on my expenses, every penny we raise will be going directly to helping with the Rohingyan aid.”
Mr Ali then discusses how they are looking to raise funds for this worthy cause and the support they are already receiving from local organisations such as a college.
Mr Ali says: “We were looking at ways to raise these funds, so on the back of our incredibly successful football tournament we have set up another one for 1st January 2018 at Thomas Danby College through the help of Naved who runs the pitches there. They’ve let us use their pitches for free. They have always been really supportive and a great help we really appreciate what they do for us and our charity work.”
The group are also offering a service in which they are selling fudge cakes to the community for £10, in a service where they will be hand delivering the cakes themselves with all proceeds going directly to the fund, and this has already proved a successful fund-raising method.
“The first week we have had a lot of support from the community with this initiative with over 70 orders on cakes in the first week alone,” he says.
“People do give us encouraging words on the work we do and some people when we get there just give us donations and don’t even ask for a cake.
The Harehills Community Aid group are also looking to get local businesses on board.
“There is one already who are going to put a charity dinner on for us on the 21st of November with all proceeds going directly to our aid fund as well.
“The main thing what we want to achieve is the awareness of the plight of what these people are actually going through and that we need to do whatever we can to help them out and alleviate some of their issues.
Team mate Shishu then emphasised the importance of the community getting on board with what they are trying to achieve: “We are doing a good deed and obviously that’s great and makes us feel good, but it’s not about us it’s about helping them and making a difference to their lives.
“With this cause, knowing people from Bangladesh, along with some of us being Bangladeshi ourselves, we can’t just sit back and let this happen. We are all blessed with family and financially, so we want to stand up and help out.
“Bangladesh is a third world country which suffers with really poor financial problems and hygiene problems and it almost feels like these people are being forgotten and not being treat equally and fair because they are Muslim, and that’s not right at all.”
Mr Ali, issued a rallying call to the local people of Harehills to get behind them.
“We are all hard-working family people who really appreciate what we have, and we will be taking time out to do this and it is really important to us to do,” he says.
“It is important to emphasise how it’s not just the Asian community that’s helping. People from all different communities work together as one and stand united side by side - it’s all about community spirit.”
The Harehills Community Aid group plan to deliver the funds to Bangladesh on 15th January. If you would like to help out with this cause in anyway or purchase a fudge cake you can contact Shishu on: 07912869694 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. They do advise to order by Thursday to ensure weekend delivery.