By Gerald V. Paul
“I would like you to be my special guest at our International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF) Annual Gala on Oct. 18 at Sheraton Parkway Hotel Suites, Richmond Hill,” read the e-mail sent from my Brother Habeeb Alli, IDRF’s community development manager.
And how can Eyes say no, as Alli, a fellow journalist, among other things, revealed RBC is the presenting sponsor and the guest speaker is Sally Armstrong. Armstrong is a multiple award-winning journalist, author and human rights activist who has covered stories in zones of conflict all over the world from Bosnia to Somalia, Rwanda and Afghanistan.
Yes, Dearly Beloved, this year, IDRF is commemorating 30 glorious years of humanitarian services to people around the world, rendered without any bias of religion, nationality, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Actually, the major focus of IDRF is development programs aimed at poverty reduction, literacy, and healthcare, as a means of helping families and communities.
IDRF is a Canadian, registered, Charitable organization dedicated to empowering the disadvantaged people of the world. They provide humanitarian aid and sustainable development programs, without discrimination, based on the Islamic principles and social justice, dignity and self-reliance.
“IDRF seeks to provide the most vulnerable communities with the means to create lives of dignity, equality and sustainability towards a more just world. Our projects are particularly effective as local partners implement them, and therefore are culturally sensitive and provide targeted assistance,” Alli said.
Indeed, Eyesers, over the past 30 years IDRF has helped millions of impoverished and tormented men, women and children, moving from crisis to crisis, providing food and medicine, wiping tears of rape, planting trees, digging wells, helping the blind, setting up schools, creating jobs and providing basic health care to the needy.
According to Alli, in 1984 IDRF was registered as the International Refugee and Relief Program (IRRP) of the Canadian Council of Muslim Communities (CCMC). At that time, there were more than 10 million people displaced around the globe as a result of war and famine. About 80% of them were Muslims.
It was realized that while short-term assistance was necessary, there was a need to attack the root cause of poverty, famine and violent conflicts at the international level.
So, on June 12, 1986, IRRP changed into IDRF. The inclusion of the word “development” emphasized self-help over handouts.
Meanwhile, with the Syrian conflict, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) anticipates that this year international aid for Gaza and the West Bank will be much less, the consequences of which will be devastating to Palestinians.
IDRF is continuing to do good by providing assistance. And they are appealing to all and sundry as they continue to build bridges: “Your generosity will help address the challenges of quality education and psycho- social counseling so important to the traumatized Gaza youth. (416-497-0818),” Alli said.
By the way, please join me at the IDRF’s gala dinner on Oct. 18 to honour the courage and celebrate the resilience of their projects and beneficiaries, and to acknowledge donors whose generosity make relief and development projects quite palatable – oops – possible!