Muslims are a generous people, but we must do a little more of everything righteous, so said Shahnaaz Paruk who heads Penny Appeal South Africa – a UK based charity who recently established an office in SA.
She is the latest high profile civil society activist to feature on Radio Al-Ansar’s hard-hitting talk show, 90 Minutes. Ms Paruk said that life is not just about making money. “If we unite there is much we can do. We should do a little more, love a little more, pray a little more, care a little more, give and do a little more of everything. It will make a big difference,” she said.
Penny Appeal is not going on massive fundraising campaigns, rather people are asked to donate their small change and this money is used on sustainable projects. Penny Appeal’s philosophy is that of affordable charity, which includes all people being able to contribute toward changing the lives of millions.
“We provide food, water, sanitation, healthcare, and provide for children, especially orphans. We equip them for life after school and to do this they need the best teachers who influence them with values and life skills. We run projects with the hope of creating employment which helps to build homes in which families live in a positive environment,” she added.
Penny Appeal has a number of projects which focus on care of the elderly including the provision of food, shelter, clothing and dealing with health issues like providing access to eyesight-saving cataract operations. “It’s very special to work with the elderly. At one stage they were us (younger generation) and they built a society in which we were born. They nurtured entire villages. We need to protect and care for the elderly. Another area of our work is to tackle the issue of violence against women. It is there amongst all people, all races, all religions. Yet we are silent. Their suffering does not come out in the open. It takes a very strong woman to stand up and speak out. Advocates of change is not a path we can walk alone.”
Presently Penny Appeal is looking to recruit volunteers for one of it’s most successful global project called “TeamOrange.” The idea is to bring like-minded people together to serve communities throughout the length and breadth of the country. “They will be engaged in a host of projects in which Penny Appeal is involved and I believe that once we get the volunteers, we will be able to develop a powerful human resource to serve the nation.”
Changing the subject and addressing the issue of water shortage, not only in the present but also in the future, Ms Paruk said that there was an urgent need to take a long hard look at what the situation would be like in two, maybe five years and it’s the long terms effect. “We in the Southern African Development Community (SADAC) have been adversely affected by the El-Nino effect, and long-term water solutions have to be found. What is currently happening in Cape Town is a disaster and it could get worse for other regions and the entire continent.”
Shahnaaz Paruk was born in Durban to a family in the clothing manufacturing industry. She received her early education at the Ridge Park College before going onto the Lockhat Islamia School where she matriculated. She went to university to study media and communications before joining the family business in the Marketing and Human Resources Department. Next came the Gordon Institute of Business Science.
Ms Paruk decided that she wanted to be of service to the community and joined SANZAF where she worked for a few years before moving to Islamic Relief South Africa. Amongst the projects she worked on at Sanzaf was the organisation’s development of skills for individuals so that they could hold down sustainable jobs, and at Islamic Relief she was responsible for multiple roles during her tenure at the organisation.
When Penny Appeal decided to come into South Africa, she was headhunted to lead their operations. After much thought, she decided that it presented a challenge, which would keep her stimulated. Mr Adeem Yunus, founder of Penny Appeal from the United Kingdom ran an online matrimonial service online before launching Penny Appeal. His philosophy: “The Penny Appeal way of doing charity is simple – we take small change and make a BIG difference with it! Our unique approach makes charitable giving affordable and rewardable, and allows us to transform lives in ways that cost us just a few pennies each day. Your donations provide aid to poor and needy people”
It was through his interest in helping the less fortunate that he found that there were entire communities in dire need of basic essentials. He started collecting food, medicine, clothes and asked a few friends to help with their distribution. Before long, he had to set up a modern-day NGO infrastructure to launch Penny Appeal which has now become a worldwide movement making great changes for people, especially in impoverished and needy countries.
For Ms Paruk a new journey has begun and already she is caught in a whirlpool of activities which has already brought noticeable changes for the better for so many communities. Farook Khan – 90 Minutes – Al Ansar Radio 23 March 2018.