By Yvonne Ridley
I AM now home from Cox’s Bazar on the `Bangladesh-Myanmar border and appreciate my surrounds like never before. I am sitting here in the secure knowledge that no one is going to threaten or drive me and my family from our home. It makes me feel warm and safe but it also makes me feel sad because it is a feeling that is denied to the Rohingya people.
There’s food in the fridge and shops selling more supplies are within easy reach of my front door, which is more than can be said for many Syrian’s under siege. No one is going to stop me from jumping in my car and driving to the supermarket or ambush and bomb me on the way. I don’t have to run any death-defying gauntlet to put bread on the table.
As I open the fridge door the light comes on and my food is fresh and cold. That is something our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Gaza don’t experience as Israel plays fast and loose with its cruel games switching power on and off. Motivated by spite and malice, it’s hard to understand how so much hate to others can give any source of comfort to the persecutors.
I will go to bed tonight knowing that I will not be bombed or anyone will enter my home to loot, rape or murder. I will sleep well and that cannot be said in parts of Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and other conflict zones around the world.
Those of us living in Europe or across the Atlantic in America are blessed that we do not live under the threat of famine, starvation, war, kidnap and murder.
Now that 2018 is upon us not only should we be counting our blessings but we should be looking at those who are not so lucky and we should be asking ourselves what we can do to alleviate the burden of others. Our diary pages lie ahead of us and each day offers the chance or opportunity to do some good deed.
There are those of us who are blessed with money who can donate generously to help charities use their talents and humanitarian aid to the full. Not all of us have the time to drop everything and travel overseas to the world’s troublespots to help and, quite frankly, with the best will in the world there are only certain skills that are useful in such situations.
I was blessed to spend time with three South African lawyers who have their own solution to dealing with the war criminals in Myanmar who’ve inflicted crimes against humanity on the Rohingya people. May God bless Shabnam Mayet, Tasneem Fredericks and Shaida Mahomed for their amazing work for the heroic little NGO Protect the Rohingya. They used their spare time and their professional skills to offer hope to the Rohingya.
And God bless the doctors from all over the world that I met in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar who also used their skills to bring more hope and comfort to these beleaguered people. You might ask what role I played and all I can say is my writing and investigative skills which were used to take testimony and write articles like these to create public awareness.
We can’t all be lawyers, doctors and journalists but we are all still very useful and can do something to help and make things happen for the better and I hope that 2018 will be the year of resourcefulness for all of us. Those who have special skills should try and use them to help others; those of us who have the time could utilise it to do sponsored walks, fundraising and organising events.
I know of many incredible sisters who are virtually housebound as mothers, raising demanding young families, who squeeze in whatever precious time they have to campaign on the computer and raise awareness and news breaking in the Muslim world.
Never underestimate your own capabilities whether it’s inspiring others, offering support and encouragement or raising awareness through the social media networks. We are all cogs and wheels and when we work together as one we can do incredible things.
There is no reason why any one of us, young or old, should not contribute towards helping others who are not as lucky as ourselves. If we don’t have skills maybe we’ve got time and if we don’t have time maybe there’s some money that can be used to do good. And if you have nothing to offer, absolutely nothing, then never forget the gift or the power of prayer … yours prayer could be more powerful than anything else.
All that I ask is that as you charge in to 2018 resolve to do something positive and good and charitable. You have 365 pages to be written – please make everything you do count. And for those of you who only follow the Islamic calendar, get ready for the countdown and make each day count.
We are the lucky ones because God has given us so many opportunities to prove ourselves in these troubled times. Whoever we are remaining silent and inactive is no longer an option - and gender or age is no barrier to doing something either. Please resolve to do something for the Ummah and then share your news on As-Seerah ... not to boast but to motivate and encourage others.
-Sister Yvonne Ridley is an author and journalist living in the UK. Her latest books is called TORTURE: Does it work? Interrogation issues and effectiveness in the Global War on Terror. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Torture-Interrogation-issues-effectiveness-Global-x/dp/1782668306
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