Winter Warmth Drive 2018 – UJ Muslim Students Association

In this fast-paced world we live in, it is without a doubt that everyone seems too occupied to help those less fortunate, however, this isn’t the case for a concerned group of youths who collectively go by the name, Muslim Students Association (MSA). While being fortunate enough to receive tertiary education at one of Joburg’s most prestigious institutions, they find the time between lecture schedules and study sessions to give their time and effort to help others.


The MSA at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) was established in 2001. This dynamic group of young Muslims meet at the jamaat khana (place of worship) on campus to share ideas on how to help the underprivileged. The word spread to students at Auckland Park’s Kingsway Campus and the Doornfontein Campus, and it didn’t take long before they all began working together towards making a difference.

The teams work hand in hand and use various methods to raise funds, such as door-to-door collections, acquiring corporate social responsibility sponsorships from large companies, collecting donation boxes after jummah salaah (Friday prayers), and asking family and friends to donate generously. 

With the funds that have been collected, items are purchased from wholesalers at a discounted price,” says coordinator, Muhammed Asvat. “Blankets are purchased from Moosa Blankets in Johannesburg, maize meal and baked beans are bought from Yarona Cash and Carry (who also sponsor a great deal of items), while gloves, beanies, socks, scarfs and ear warmers were kindly donated.”


This year, the team successfully managed to raise R27 500, which was enough to assemble 250 hampers. Once the items were purchased, they were delivered to the Auckland Park Campus, where young MSA members proceeded with packing the hampers.

Each year, hampers are delivered to people who need them the most. In 2017 and 2018, the Benoni Muslim Jamaat (BMJ) were recipients of the hampers. They had contacted the MSA for assistance because they house a few needy students at their madrassah (school). On the 18th of May 2018, after jummah salaah (Friday prayers), the MSA team along with many other students used their own vehicles to transport the goods to their destination in Benoni.


To culminate the completion and success of this year’s winter warmth drive, a nominated member of the MSA rendered a speech at their assembly and the congregation received a few words of advice from respected BMJ principal, Moulana Ayyub Kachwee.

It’s always heart-warming to see the youth take time off from their studies and social activities to give back to less-fortunate communities. We hope their kindness and generosity will inspire even more student organisations to follow suit.

For more information on MSA UJ projects, please contact Muhammed Asvat on 079 152 7296.

Cycling for Success – The #Riding4SAeducation Campaign 2018

According to a 2016 study published in the South African Early Childhood Review, around 63% of young South African children live in poverty. This translates to a shocking 3 969 000 impoverished children around the country, with the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo having the highest rates.

Salaamedia and Salaam Foundation make South African education their main priority, seeking to empower young learners and equip them with proper care, academic tools and facilities. Due to the success of their #Riding4SAeducation campaign in 2017, the organisation rallied the support of like-minded NGO’s and individuals to partake in the cycling-based project this year.

The 2018 effort brought several organisations together, including Africa Muslims Agency, Islamic Relief SA, Nyota Collections and Al Ihya Foundation, for the common cause of highlighting the plight of South African learners.

Starting their journey on the 12 of February 2018 in Polokwane, the group of riders visited destitute schools along their route through various towns in the Limpopo and North West provinces. They also took assessments of the different needs within the schools and plan to strategise on if and how they will be able to assist.

One of the most dilapidated schools they visited was Stinkhout Primary, just outside Zeerust in the North West. “The walls of the prefabricated classrooms were rotting. The school’s pit toilets have not been cleaned since late last year, the borehole is non-functional,” said Azhar Vadi of Salaam Foundation. Up to 80 learners were cramped into the classrooms, which also had sagging floors.

The Muslim community of Zeerust has been trying for some time to supply bottles of water to the school, which is situated 15km outside the town. This has however come to an end and the learners are now dependent on a supply from neighbouring farms.

In Lichtenburg, the team visited a school that had an average of 120 learners per classroom. “Situations like this are simply unacceptable. The Department of Education needs to seriously look into what it is doing to ensure that the future of South Africa is secured through the provision of quality education,” said Vadi. “While we can raise some funding through the various towns we pass through, ultimately this is a government function. We need to add pressure on the provincial and national departments to ensure that adequate funding reaches the children of South Africa.”

This year the incredible journey spanned 1160km and ended in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, on the 25 February 2018 with a mountain bike race and family outdoor market.

Salaam Foundation coordinator, Fatima Sookharia, said the event was a great success. “We wanted more people to participate in #Riding4SAeducation. So we hosted the MTB event and despite the rain, we had cyclists, young and old, taking to the hills around Lenasia. As the weather cleared we had a fantastic day all in aid of education in South Africa.”

This remarkable event is now expected to become an annual occurrence, bringing much-needed attention to struggling schools and poverty-stricken learners. We commend all the riders involved, whose long journey has brought hope, care and love to these children, reminding them that they have not been forgotten.

*Special thanks to Azhar Vadi for his collaboration on this article.

For more information or to get involved, please contact Salaamedia on 011 680 0355/081 706 4622 or email

Alternatively, make a donation towards SA education:

Account: Salaam Foundation
Bank: FNB
Account no: 62669147665
Branch: 250737
Reference: Education (lillah/zakaah)


Project Distinction – Shaping the Future for Matric Students

Matric is indisputably the most important and challenging year in a young adult’s life. As the pressure to perform well mounts, every spare hour is spent studying and urgent college applications beckon. Finding the will to learn can be difficult for teens from disadvantaged backgrounds, as are the exorbitant funds required for university. A majority of South African children attending school deal with frustrations and limitations many of us have never experienced; a lack of stationery and textbooks, unmotivated teachers and packed classrooms – to name a few. It‘s integral to inspire the drive and enthusiasm to learn within students who view school as just another daily chore, and not an opportunity and stepping stone to thrive in years to come.

Image credit: Irfaan Kokate

This is where Project Distinction steps in, seeking to empower the uninspired youth; those who need an extra motivational push to achieve their dreams, and the young men and women who hold incredible potential but are held back by their financial circumstances or lack of interest. These are our future leaders, doctors, lawyers, engineers and teachers. With the right mind-set and mentors, they have the ability to change the world through their education.

Project Distinction opens a window of opportunity for Grade 11 and 12 students who believed that all their doors to success were closed. This youth-centred initiative is driven by a dynamic team of entrepreneurs; Mohamed Jassat, Dr Ridwan Mia, Waseem Ahmed Sirkhot and Ismail Moola. They discovered a huge block that exists within underprivileged public-sector high schools, where there’s a diminished and absent sense of purpose to interact and grow. Project Distinction intends to set measures in place that change the thinking process around education.

Image credit: Rising Sun Lenasia

Brand ambassador for the project and well-known plastic surgeon, Dr Ridwan Mia says that education is a crucial ingredient in any country’s success. This valuable initiative ties in with his passion to uplift underprivileged communities by demonstrating to young learners how the process of academic achievement translates into lifetime success.

The organisation founders proactively encourage learners from underprivileged schools to strive for the highest examination results. The team’s approach is through motivational talks; instilling a sense of confidence and drive, which pushes learners to work harder and pave their own pathways to success. Their message to the youth is that “nothing is impossible.”

Project Distinction team members. Image credit: Rising Sun Lenasia

Project Distinction team members visit schools during the year to motivate learners through talks and presentations, and entice them with the prospect of winning prizes for academic achievements at matric level. Project Distinction also invites other motivational speakers to reach out to learners, encouraging them to excel academically. “We have effectively brought the business communities in these areas to the party so that they contribute financially and materially towards rewarding learners for attaining good grades”, explains Dr Mia.

What makes this project unique is that the benefits are two-fold; learners are incentivised to do well in matric, and also receive prizes that would enable them to do better at tertiary level. Positive incentives encourage learners, urging them to succeed in exchange for winning recognition and financial rewards. These are in the form of bursaries awarded to the top candidates, which are paid directly to the universities or colleges attended. Apart from this life-changing academic opportunity, star students are given tech resources and even lunch money for university.

Image credit: Rising Sun Lenasia


Over the last five years, Project Distinction has targeted ten schools in Lenasia, three in Benoni, one school in the Marlboro Gardens and another in Laudium. Ismail Moola explains that they reimburse the top student from every school visited with a R20 000 bursary. The best academic achiever in matric is chosen in January and is also awarded R5000 in cash, a laptop, a cellphone, 3G cards and other smaller prizes from various sponsors.

The project has grown in leaps and bounds from a sponsorship of R100 000 worth of prizes in 2012 to just over R700 000 in 2017. The growth of the project is attributed to the generous sponsors who are confident that the funds will be channelled to the most deserving students. The top ten students from each school, along with their parents, are celebrated at a lavish gala dinner held at the beginning of each new year. “We pave a pathway into the university experience for them that instils a level of confidence and awareness of motivation required for continuous achievement,” explains Dr Mia.

Image credit: Rising Sun Lenasia

Entrepreneurs, Mohamed Jassat and Waseem Sirkhot mention that by sharing personal experiences, knowledge and processes behind their own success, they provide students with a more tangible reality. They aim to inspire these adolescents to envision a life for themselves outside the confines that are created by the poverty line.

Mohamed says that we all have a leading role to play in changing the state of affairs in the micro-system of our own homes, our communities and our country at large. “We need to recognise that our input on a ground level is vital and our commitment to making a positive difference is essential in creating platforms for our youth to thrive.”

A child’s future is only as successful as their ambitions to learn and grow. Project Distinction provides these learners with the tools to deal with their direct limitations, and keenly polishes their vision to see beyond them.


For more information on Project Distinction, please contact:

Ismail Moola on 083 754 8900

Mohamed Jassat on 084 555 7736 or email

Waseem Sirkhot on 084 999 0999/084 421 4229 or email

Muslim Hands SA Stationery Drive 2018 benefits Cape Flats kids

The start of the new school year is always an exciting time for young children. The idea of seeing friends again after the long summer holiday, exploring a new classroom, meeting teachers and of course, acquiring more knowledge. 

While public schools do supply learning material for students, most don’t provide any stationery. As we know from experience, both these types of academic materials go hand in hand, and learning is impossible without the use of a pen and paper. Stationery costs are annually inflated which makes even the most basic of supplies too expensive for many less fortunate families. 


Muslim Hands SA understands the value of education and strives to support young learners from low-income homes in any way possible. They held a stationery drive in January 2018, calling upon the local Capetonian community to donate funds in aid of underprivileged school kids. Donors were more than happy to contribute to this worthy cause and an astounding R80 000 was collected through the Muslim Hands Stationery Drive.

On 21 January 2018, stationery packs were distributed to financially disadvantaged children from the Cape Flats. 500 young beneficiaries began their 2018 school year on the right path, stocked with the required stationery and eager to learn. For many of these bright minds, this will be the only new set of stationery they will receive this year.

The stationery pack for each child included writing books, scissors, a glue stick, flip files, pens, a pencil, ruler and eraser, as well as sellotape.

Items in these handy stationery packs were carefully selected to suit both primary and high school students.

There are few things more heartwarming than seeing the smile of child who is given something this practical – and often taken for granted – and yet they treat it like a luxury.


Thanks to the Muslim Hands SA team for continuing to fuel academic opportunities for our country’s youth.


For more information on how you can contribute, contact Muslims Hands SA on 021 633 6413 or send an email to

QIA learners spread joy through the Syria Shoebox Project

During Ramadaan, we all enjoy peace and enlightenment, but our brothers and sisters in Syria no longer have the privilege to experience that. Faced with the perils of ongoing war and violence everyday, children of Syria have lost the true essence of what a happy and carefree childhood means.

The students and faculty of Qurtuba Islamic Academy, situated in Linbro Park, Johannesburg, decided that it was only fair that if they were to receive Eid gifts this year, so too should the children of Syria. During May 2017, each student began collecting a special gift for a child of war, as well as a beautifully decorated a shoebox to put it in, hence the name; the Syria Shoebox Project.

QIA students beautifully decorated shoeboxes for Eid gifts

What made this project even more significant is that each learner personally selected the contents of the gift box and lent their creativity to decorating the boxes in colourful gift wrap and trimmings. All the QIA learners hope their gift will bring a smile to the face of a Syrian child, many of whom are orphans.

Shoeboxes being delivered to Al-Quds Foundation

Approximately 105 boxes were collected and then sent to the Al Quds Foundation which will facilitate their delivery to Syria.

These shoeboxes are a symbol of solidarity and hopefulness. The Eid gifts will not only delight the children who receive it, but also remind them of the thoughtfulness and kindness of mankind.

For more information about the academy and their initiatives, please call the Qurtuba Islamic Academy on 011 608 0527 or email

Qurtuba Islamic Academy – Cake Sale Fundraiser for Palestine & Syria

While the rest of us were enjoying our morning tea, students from Qurtuba Islamic Academy in Linbro Park were hard at work at their annual Cake Sale Fundraiser in aid of Palestine and Syria.

Yummy baked treats for sale

Held in March 2017, the fundraising event coincided with Israel Apartheid Week. The young and generous souls at Qurtuba Islamic Academy donated various delectable baked goods to raise funds for our brothers and sisters in need, in both Palestine and Syria. The delicious treats were collected and sold at the school, appeasing every child’s sweet tooth!

This event brought attention to the plight in the Middle East and enlightened QIA students on the harsh reality of daily life there, which further ignited their empathy and instilled in them a will to do more to help others in need. Learners also prepared and showcased several presentations, fanning feelings of unity and solicitude among all. It was truly heartwarming for parents and teachers to witness the passion and solidarity that these young learners have shown for the people of Palestine and Syria. 

We stand together for the people of Palestine and Syria

An impressive total of R18 000 was collected, and these funds will be distributed to the beneficiaries through the great efforts of the Jamiatul-Ulama South Africa. All humanitarian aid collected will be used to provide daily necessities to destitute adults, children and families who’ve been affected by the ongoing conflict in the region.


Hundreds of balloons, bearing the colours of the Palestinian and Syrian flags, were released at the event as a symbol of hope for freedom and peace in the Middle East. The compassion and altruism these children have shown illustrates the amazing mindsets instilled in them by their teachers and parents.

For more information about the academy and their initiatives, please call the Qurtuba Islamic Academy on 011 608 0527 or email