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Monday, June 7, 2010

Islamic Relief's Microcredit Program Thriving in Mali

Islamic Relief USA CEO Abed Ayoub and his team continue their trip through several African countries before departing to the United Kingdom and Jordan. In addition to meeting with government officials, the team has been visiting schools and Islamic Relief programs in the countries.

Ghana Wrapup
In Ghana the team announced that IR USA will be opening a new office in the country. The team was also invited to the home of Vice President John Mohammed, where Ayoub explained IR USA’s history and its work with international NGOs. Mohammed spoke of the challenges that Ghana faces, especially in strengthening its educational infrastructure. Ayoub said they looked forward to establishing the new field office in Ghana.

From Ghana, Ayoub and the IR USA teamtraveled to Mali where they began their time in Bamako and met with Country Director Abdelmagid Naciri, who heads Islamic Relief's Mali office. Naciri told the team that "Islamic Relief is the best NGO which understands the needs of the people and work closely with them." He encouraged IR USA to do more developmental relief work all over Mali.

Ayoub shared IR USA's strategies in Africa and said the relief organization is interested in doing more work in the fields of education and health, but that the team was there to listen to the Malians and study the needs of the country. Following the meeting with Naciri, Ayoub and Islamic Relief USA Development Coordinator Belkacem Nahi met with the IR staff working in Mali and fielded questions on how projects will be financed and how IR USA can develop a system to make funds available as soon as they are needed.

"I am very proud of the work that the Islamic Relief team is doing in Mali and inshallah we will support it in the best way possible," Ayoub said.

Ayoub and his team then met with Omar Ibrahima Toure, Mali's minster of health, who reiterated Mali's commitment to work closely with IR USA and his hopes for a growth in funding. Toure and Ayoub discussed the need for updated hospital equipment and medicines. Ayoub asked Toure if the Mali government can help IR USA by donating land or a building for a new hospital, to which the minister replied that he would form a team to work on this request and see if it was feasible.

Microcredit in Mali
One of the last stops for the IR USA team was at a house in the outskirts of Bamako to meet with the director of a widow’s microcredit program, where the mothers of former IR-sponsored orphans process nuts, peanut butter and ginger in small packets to sell in a local market. Ayoub was heartened by the work and encouraged the women to keep it up.

"It is so good to see the hard work of these women and what they are doing for their families. Inshallah IR USA is willing to help them more in their endeavors," Ayoub said. The program director said that in the eight years of the program, 350 women had benefitted from it and the entire cost of living for their families was covered from the revenue of the sales.

One of the beneficiaries of the program told Ayoub that the work had saved the life of her kids by allowing her to buy food and clothes for her family and save for their future education. "I say Jazak Allah Khair to the donors [of IR USA]," she said.

Islamic Relief USA will be blogging more about Ayoub and his team as they travel to the United Kingdom and Jordan. To help with Islamic Relief’s work in Ghana, Mali, and other areas, click here.

--Reporting by Belkacem Nahi
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