Supporting around 2,000 schools in some of the most impoverished areas of India, the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) has been busy spreading literacy among thousands of Muslims since 1989.
Driven by the vision of giving back to the society in which they grew up, the group has tied up with hundreds of organisations working at the grassroots level in India. With chapters in Canada, Australia and many European countries, a delegation of AFMI visited Dubai recently to see the possibility of getting support from the large Indian community in the UAE.
“We have chapters in many parts of the world which help us raise funds for spreading literacy in India. We saw the potential to do the same in Dubai and the support we have already got from the large Indian community here vindicates our hope,” says Dr Abdurrehman S. Nakadar, a trustee of AFMI, who is heading the delegation.
The delegation met with the leading lights of the Indian community in Dubai to spread awareness about the organisation’s work in the slums and rural areas of India, pressing upon them the need for funds to run the growing literacy projects.
“We hope a Dubai chapter of AFMI will strengthen our hands to a great extent and we will be able to help realise many dreams. It’s great to see that people here are ready to shoulder the responsibility and we will be back in December to hold a convention, which hopefully will take the project further,” added the soft-spoken Dr Nakadar.
Realising that illiteracy is the mother of all problems and the primary cause of the minority Muslim community’s backwardness, the philanthropic group has set the seemingly insurmountable target of 100 per cent literacy for the community. Apart from helping fund various educational institutions — one among which is popular actor Shabana Azmi’s Mijwan Welfare Society — the charity is offering several incentives to both students and parents in its attempt to achieve the target.
“Our focus right now is primary and secondary education, we want all the boys and girls to receive at least higher secondary education. After that if they are bookish kind we help them go further if not we help them get a decent job,” says Dr Shakir Mukhi, another member of the delegation.
The organisation confers hundreds of gold, silver and bronze medals to achievers every year, encouraging the students to perform better.
“We rope in celebrities, governors and ministers to award these medals to the students. For families it’s a matter of prestige to see their wards receive an award from honorable personalities. I remember a peculiar incident when an entire village came out with music band and garlands to receive a boy who had been feted by Indian former prime minister Deve Gowda,” adds Dr Mukhi, explaining how the incentive works in getting students and parents attracted to the project.
Dr Nakadar added that ploy has worked in making the atmosphere more competitive. “There was a time when Muslim students wouldn’t even fill the fixed quota of their seats in universities and colleges, but now apart from filling the quota many students get seats on merit.”
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