Washington, DC: Around fifty delegates from ten States of USA attended a unique â€œAfrica Summit 2011â€ organized by Helping Hand for Relief & Development (HHRD) in Washington DC on Sunday, December 18th. Leadership of the Islamic Circle of America (ICNA), partner organization of HHRD, facilitated with the proceedings of the Summit.
Majority of the delegates were American born (with African heritage) and expatriatesâ€™ from various African countries, like Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Guinea, Gambia, Mali, Nigeria, and Ghana.
Program started with Quranic recitation by Hafiz Amjad Saeed, HHRD Georgia Representative. After that everyone introduced themselves and initial presentation by Dr. Farrukh Raza (CEO/President of HHRD) about the goals & objectives of the Africa Summit, Dr. Sulayman Nyang, professor and chairman of the African Studies Department at Howard University in Washington, D.C. presented a complete overview of the Africa Continent.
Dr. Sulayman Nyang exclaimed that natural shape of the continent of Africa is question mark (?) and hopefully if we solve this question, we will resolve the political, social, humanitarian, and all other problems of Africa. He talked about the influence on Africa of European powers that occupied various parts of Africa (they gave the name Africa to this continent), as well as the rich Muslim heritage of Africa, which came to this part of the world by Muslims from Arabia and Malaysian traders. He informed about the diversified cultures, from West, to North, to North-East, to East, to Horn of Africa, to Central, and then South Africa. Africa has the richest of natural resources and several parts of the continent is most fertile for agriculture. He said from the beginning, Africa has issues related to health with mosquitoes killing many Europeans through malaria, and health & clean environment remain the main issue, as healthy body has healthy mind, which is very important for progress of societies. He added that other than health, there is need to promote education, and bring people of various areas of specific countries and then the whole countries of Africa, to come together in resolving their tribal, ethnic, and political issues.
Dr. Asha Samad (PhD ), Professor of Medical Anthropology and associated with SAFRAD Somali Association from New York, talked about specific political, societal, and humanitarian issues that are adversely affecting the development of Horn of Africa and East Africa. She informed about the vulnerable in these areas to be women, children, and the minorities.
Dr. Ali Ibrahim Bahar, a Professor at Houston Community College, informed that when it comes to helping people of Somalia, everyone is going to Mogadishu, which is good. He said however there are other places in vast Somalia, that are peaceful and where there is extreme drought & famine, and they also need immediate assistance, like Somaliland and Puntland (Northeastern Somalia). He talked about specific educational projects through an organization IQRA that he initiated a few years ago.
After Duhar prayer and Lunch break, the afternoon sessions started with Nadia Zeeshan making a general presentation about HHRD and ILyas Hasan Choudry doing the specific HHRD workâ€™s presentation in Africa presentation. Azmat Akbar, who is one of the Coordinators of the humanitarian work in Africa, called from Kenya to greet everyone and informed that HHRD staff in the field in Africa is viewing all the proceedings via Video Conferencing.
From 2pm. onward, group discussion was initiated by Dr. Iqbal Unus, where after about four hoursâ€™ of very extensive pondering, and small break-out groups deliberations, a consensus was built; and that was since there is famine, drought plus security issues, so HHRD should continue doing the emergency relief work of food & water distribution, basic healthcare, shelter, and in-kind donations among the internally displaced persons in various camps across Africa and due to existing situation, this may continue for a while; and then for long-term development phase, which can be started at the same time where there are not many security issues and where proper clusters can be formed, is to concentrate on programs & projects in the field of Healthcare, Education, Poverty Eradication, and Women Empowerment.
It was further emphasized that arrangements should be made by HHRD in coordination with their field staff in Africa, for Medical Staff visits from USA and Canada, where doctors & nurses can go to Africa for one to two weeks, work in the field, give pertinent advises to the local HHRD staff, and over a period of time improve the health conditions of Africans.
HHRD will continue to interact with these delegates with the formation of an Advisory Council on Africa, and through the various regional offices of HHRD, reach out to communities nationwide through presentations, workshops, and fundraising efforts, to bring respite to the people of Africa.
For more information on the Summit, one can call Farrukh Raza, CEO/President of HHRD at 1-732-593-7017.