Fatima Yusuf is one amazing volunteer. She started helping our cause since she was 7 years old. One day, after Ramadan, her mom, Ayesha Rania, who is also one of our long time volunteers, came to our office to hand a jar that Fatima had decorated at one of our events. In the jar was $300 cash that Fatima had received for Eid from her grandparents and relatives. She chose to give it all to our children.
Over the years, Fatima has shown continued interest in our work. Before going to Cambodia she did a book drive and collected more than 500 books for our children. She traveled to Cambodia with her mom and below is her account. We are so grateful to have Fatima on our team.
“After a long flight across the Pacific, my mother and I finally arrived in the beautiful country of Cambodia, where we were greeted by our gracious hosts Br. Veasna “Zul” Ly and Sr. Mariya, who welcomed us with open arms. During the five hour drive to Kampong Cham, where the Noordeen Home was located, Br. Zul shared context about how Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot regime left Cambodia without any intellectuals or academics to help revive the nation after its genocide. Br. Zul and Sr. Mariya helped create the Noordeen Home to bring back better education standards and greater opportunities to rural Cambodian Muslims. I looked forward to helping Br. Zul and Sr. Mariya with their mission and was excited, yet nervous, to meet the children.
We finally arrived in the scenic yet deeply impoverished Kampong Cham District. Supported by the Mary Beth Riley Award for International Service, my goals going into this trip were to provide the children with a new library to help improve their English and literacy as well as provide new backpacks and school supplies for the over fifty children there. After ordering some new school supplies from a nearby store, we proceeded to the orphanage to meet the children for the first time.
Upon arriving at Noordeen, I was greeted by all the children standing outside the home. After getting acquainted and exchanging gifts, we started getting situated at the home. The next day, soon after being awoken by the sound of one of the children eloquently giving the Athaan, I got started on creating a library. After constructing five bookshelves that we had ordered from Cambodia, we started filling the shelves with books collected from drives I organized in the Bay Area. Through these book drives, I had collected over 500 books of all reading levels, ranging from kindergarten to high school.
The children were peering in from time to time as we were working, and eagerly filled in the room once we had finished constructing the library. Many of the children at the home are not proficient in English, but highly intelligent nevertheless. They are currently studying Khmer, Malay, and Arabic. It is my hope that these books would assist them with their English, the lingua franca of the world.
Over the next few days, the school supplies and backpacks that we had ordered from a nearby store had arrived. We proceeded to work on packing the over 50 backpacks with new notebooks, highlighters, color pencils, and pens. After Jumuah prayers, we handed out the backpacks to all the children.
In addition to the books, backpacks, and school supplies, we had also brought new soccer balls, badminton sets, and a volleyball for the kids to enjoy during their breaks. We also brought new board games from the U.S, such as Uno and Sorry! for the kids at Noordeen to play during their free time. We were surprised to see Connect 4 be a huge hit, especially among the staff!
On our last day at Noordeen, we held a water fight that turned out a huge success. When the time came for us to leave, the kids came together and recited beautiful passages from the Quran to us. We took some wonderful pictures and I was delighted to see the impact our work made.
Reflecting on this trip, I was saddened to think about how many more children are lacking in basic school supplies and necessities. Despite the many opportunities that the Noordeen Home offers their children, it is nothing compared to the opportunities I, a middle class student living in the Bay Area, have access to.
There are still areas of improvement to be made at the Noordeen Home. Unfortunately, the kitchen that is used to feed all the children is not up to date. It would be helpful if the kids could have access to a better kitchen. Furthermore, because the home is located in a rural area, the staff is looking for funds to create a fence around the perimeter of the property. Lastly, there are still many Cambodian girls who struggle to obtain an education. Helping GiveLight sponsor the education of these young girls would grow their opportunities and fundamentally change their lives.
I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time at Noordeen and learn more about the quality of education and standards of living for children in underdeveloped nations. I look forward to continuing to volunteer with GiveLight Foundation and bringing education to underdeveloped areas.”
~ Fatima Yusuf
We hope you enjoyed the details of her journey and the photos of our children. Fatima brought so much joy and beautiful gifts to our Noordeen home. But as you can see we have much more to accomplish. Please consider donating to our support our home in Cambodia.