By Dr. Alya Khan
On March 12, 2014, our family was blessed with the latest addition — our daughter Noura. Suited to the meaning of her name, which means “light” in Arabic, Noura has certainly illuminated our lives. She has made her parents and older brother relish her smiles and giggles. So fortunate are we to be able to provide a secure and happy home for our children. Since the birth of our first child, we have had a soft spot for children without their own families and without the basic necessities of life such as clean water and sufficient food.
Being of Pakistani descent, we have seen firsthand how innumerable displaced children in our homeland resort to begging, malnutrition and abuse. They line the streets of Pakistan, and many other developing countries, while ordinary citizens pass by without even a glance their way. As a child, I used to feel empathy toward these children and did not understand what they had done to deserve this. As I got older, and hopefully wiser, I realized the children serve as a test. For those of us who are fortunate to live a life without fear of hunger or worry of shelter, and to have children of our own who we can keep secure and healthy, these orphaned children remind us of what we have. Sometimes I reflect on how easily I could have been one of these orphaned children. Then I look at my own children — these gifts God has given me — and I am so grateful that, at least for now, we are able to provide a safe home for them.
When Noura was born these feelings rushed back in me, and when it was time for her ‘aqiqah, we decided we needed to give more. The “’aqiqah” — an Islamic practice in which an animal is slaughtered and distributed to the poor — is performed upon a child’s birth. It gives the parents a chance to seek nearness to God and thank Him for the blessing of a newborn child. Some people mark the event with a celebration. For the occasion of Noura’s ‘aqiqah, we asked our guests to bring a donation rather than a gift. A friend of mine had done something similar for her son’s aqiqah, which inspired us to do the same — and we chose to donate to The GiveLight Foundation.
I learned about GiveLight at a Moroccan tea event held in Irvine, California, last year. While there, I also learned about the story and mission behind Dian Alyan (The GL Foundation Founder and President) and the foundation. When we saw the chance to do something, it just clicked to have our guests donate to GiveLight. It was a cause my husband and I felt strongly about, and it only felt right as our daughter was coincidentally named “light.” Even though Dian was not able to attend the event personally, I felt the sincerity and motivation to help orphans in developing countries among our guests. We received great feedback from them, and some even felt motivated to do the same for their future events and parties.
Through our daughter’s aqiqah, we raised enough money to feed one orphan for two years (Praise be to God). We pray that others will be inspired by our story to do the same. We also pray that the children who benefit from GiveLight receive the same joy that our children have, and that they continue to stay healthy and educated, and eventually find families to love them like their own (God Willing).
To find out more information on The GiveLight Foundation, please visit their website at www.GiveLight.org.
You can also read Dian Alyan’s interview about GiveLight on Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/obrien-browne/the-new-global-leader-par_8_b_5964536.html.