Do you believe in Angels? As a Muslim believer -I do, but it’s a totally different experience when you actually come face to face with them. I got the pleasure of meeting two such amazing angels on earth…
During the Spring cleaning, as I cleared out my children’s clothes and toys (that they have grown out of), I was faced with a dilemma of where to donate them in Doha. I normally take them to Pakistan, but we didn’t plan to go there for at least another 6 months. Hence, I posted a picture of bags full of stuff on my blog, asking for options of where to donate here.
Amongst so many of the suggestions that came my way, one of my readers told me about this post by Stefanie Dekker on our area’s Community Facebook page. Stefanie was collecting donations for clothes in good condition, from babies to men and women along with children’s toys, for people fleeing the war to the camps in eastern Mosul. She had also shared a video through which I came to know that she is an Al Jazeera correspondent who has seen all this suffering with her own eyes and experienced it first-hand. I couldn’t sleep that night after watching the video. After seeing the families and the children and a glimpse of their stories, I instantly knew where I wanted my kid’s stuff to go and subsequently arranged a meeting with her.
A Few Facts About Mosul
In case you don’t already know, here are some quick facts about Mosul:
* Mosul is a major city in northern Iraq which has been under the control of ISIS since June 2014
* The Battle of Mosul begun in October 2016, and is a military operation led by the Iraqi Government to retake the city from ISIS
* As of March 2017, eastern Mosul has been freed from ISIS, while the western part of the city remains under siege.
* As fighting intensifies in the western part, 10,000 civilians flee Iraq’s west Mosul daily and are living in refugee camps in eastern Mosul.
Meeting Stefanie Dekker
Meeting Stefanie was a very moving experience for me. I had goosebumps while she shared a tiny glimpse of what she has witnessed – the human cost of the war in Mosul. I was in awe of this brave woman, who has been working on the ground, risking her life to bring the stories of these people to us. While to the rest of the world (including me) these attacks and casualties have become a mere number, Stefanie is putting a face to those numbers. That was the day I met the first angel.
Stefanie told me that while she was doing her bit, it was her friend Dima Al-Shibani (another Al Jazeera journalist, who is a Londoner of Iraqi origin) is spearheading this drive. Standing right there, I had the sudden urge to bring this story to my readers and blog about it, but I was really nervous asking her that because in my mind I was like,
“She is an Al Jazeera Journalist. I am just a hobbyist mum blogger. I’ll make a fool of myself!”
But I asked her anyway and guess what? – she agreed. She arranged my meeting with Dima so that I could cover their story! I feel honored that they shared their story with me.
Finally Meeting, The Angel of Mosul
The minute I stepped into Dima’s apartment, I was in awe of the generosity of the people of Doha and the courage of this woman, who undertook a mammoth task of collecting, sorting, packing and arranging for the cargo of about 1500 kg. of supplies to the refugee camp in Mosul!
But even they had no idea, this is how MASSIVE this project will become, when they started this.
Stefanie and Dima had made an arrangement with Qatar Airways to transport 100 kg. of supplies (which has now increased to 1500 kg – for FREE), but as they started asking for donations they were flooded with love and support from the Doha community.
Stefanie told me that while she was reporting from Mosul, Dima kept asking her of ways she could help. According to Stefanie, it was Dima’s perseverance that eventually led to this huge project. When they started it, they themselves had no idea that it would become this HUGE, but as they say it, “it just spun out of control!”
According to Dima, what drove her was her ‘guilt’ of having a privileged and a safe life while her fellow countrymen were dealing with the war and its aftermath. She was disturbed by the stories that Stefanie was reporting and desperately wanted to help. But what sealed the deal for her, was this picture of a little girl Yamama, that Stefanie put on her Instagram. She told her story that they walked all the way to the camp shoeless, to sneak out as quietly as they could, without ISIS taking notice of their footsteps.
When they reached out to people for support, Dima’s entire apartment was soon taken over by the donations pouring in. Watch the video to see what I mean…
She then sorted, arranged and packed them according to the different categories. They have packaged supplies like Adult Shoes, Kids Shoes, Adult clothing, Kids clothing, Toys, Blankets, Diapers and even Women’s Sanitary Napkins. Everything that a human being needs to be and feel like a human.
The shipment goes out soon and Dima will be traveling to Iraq to follow it through and see to the distribution of the supplies herself. She is truly an angel for the people of Mosul.
This is what 2 women, independent of any diplomatic support were able to do. And all this, simply out of compassion and love for humanity, irrespective of religion, ethnicity or race – their own or of the people they are helping.
Every religion teaches kindness. But the problem is that we have all forgotten the basics of our belief: The love for humanity. So, let us all go back to the basics, and that will bring the world together!
HUMANITY SHOULD BE OUR RACE. LOVE SHOULD BE OUR RELIGION
As Dalai Lama said:
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, the Humanity cannot survive.