Shaeida Marcus has dreams of feeding, clothing, housing and providing medicine for Durban’s indigent right across the religious spectrum.
In a wide-ranging interview with Farook Khan on Radio Al Ansaar’s Friday night talk show, 90 Minutes, she said that it was the duty of everyone to serve those who are in need.
She spoke about a chance meeting on the beachfront with a “long, lost friend”. This led her to a church on the waterfront where she found the homeless – about 160 of them being fed by a woman whose sum total of her expenses amounted to R50.
“Do not ask me how she does it. But it inspired me to start feeding the indigent no matter where I found them. Among our own Muslim community, I found, there are people who live in poverty. They go without food, medicine and even some of the basic toiletries.
“This is when I decided to dedicate my life to bringing some comfort to some of the people. In Newlands East, there are Muslims who are of mixed racial origin. They seem to have been forgotten or excluded. It is now my task to make them welcome in the mainstream Muslim ummah,” she said.
Mrs Marcus has had her share of hardships throughout her life, having grown up in an improvised community, subjected to domestic turmoil and having to fight off gangs and other anti-social elements.
She has endured considerable grief, having lost her mother and the tragic death of her son within a week and then a few years later, her husband.
“The pain remains with me, but I use it to give me strength in serving those who are in need. I use it as a motivation to propel me forward in all that I do for my fellow human beings. This is not a favour to anyone. I want to serve Allah.
“This is my purpose in life and, while I have suffered hardships, I have enjoyed, and will continue to benefit from, the Grace of Allah. There is no other Source, nor is there any other Power besides Him. I believe that I have found my purpose in life. It is not too much for me to be occupied every day of the week, cooking food, washing clothes or visiting the elderly,” said Mrs Marcus.
She continues to volunteer her services to various communities in the greater Durban area to bring comfort to those who are in need.
Now she has been asked to help administer Lazarus House, a brand new shelter in Umbilo Road for women who have been abused.
Apart from providing them with shelter and food, Mrs Marcus wants to launch a life skills workshop for the women.
“We have to train them to be independent and the best way to do this is to enable them to acquire a skill which will give them a place in the job market. Once a woman has the ability to earn she will take care of herself and her children.
“This is the freedom of which I sought and I know that every women will seek, especially in her time of need and that of her children. Women have to reduce their dependence on men, it is the only way in which they can fight back,” said Mrs Marcus.
Born and bred a Muslim, her journey has brought her, time and again, in touch with many who sought to regain their faith. And she has been there to guide them. There have been adults and their children who lost their direction and who were brought back.
“It is Allah’s Will that I serve. It is not about money, nor is it about fame. It is about being of service to our fellow human beings, especially those who are not fortunate enough to be self-sufficient,” she said.
Mrs Marcus has founded Itemba Labantu, a non-governmental organization to take her work to a new level and to work among a greater number of people in need.
The name was created by a young Kenyan woman, Nduta, who once lived in Durban where she studied and spent her free time being of service to the elderly.
“We got talking and it was she who suggested that I form my own organization, which would enable me to empower many more to become volunteers and join to bring comfort.
“Since then, there has been a new life for each one of us. I get up every morning excited and ready to take on whatever challenges face the people whose lives I have touched.
“There are other women like me and there are those who I know will be joining us. The culture of service is spreading and we are able to tackle many problems. Soon, we will be living in a better country,” she said.
An open invitation is extended to anyone wishing to join her in serving those in need: [email protected]
Farook Khan – 90 Minutes – Al Ansar
7 September 2018