This week, B.C. & Mordant welcome Islamic Relief Philippines Head of Mission, Sumayya Sajjad. Sumayya has the pleasure of working with one of the most unique Islamic Relief offices, and our listeners now have the pleasure of hearing about her exciting work.
Sumayya spends some time explaining why it is the IRPH has such a unique challenge. The Philippines consists of more than 7,000 islands and has suffered from an unimaginable number of typhoons, earthquakes, volcano eruptions and other natural disasters.
Due to its location along the Ring of Fire, or typhoon belt, the region requires a lot of aid every year.
For Sumayya, who is originally from Pakistan, this situation reminds her of Pakistan, a country that has also suffered a similar fate of many natural disasters in recent history.
One major difference, though, is that the overwhelming majority of the country is not Muslim. In fact, of all the islands, only one has a population that is both Christian and Muslim.
A unique challenge that Sumayya talks about in this episode is dispelling the stereotype that Islamic Relief only helps Muslims. Islamic Relief’s mission is to provide relief regardless of gender, race or religion, but sometimes the name can be misleading. At IRPH, Sumayya has had the pleasure of seeing that misconception disappear when the logo with the masjid on it is the first responder after a typhoon in which all of the victims are Christian.
“In our programs, being Islamic Relief, we have core values,” she says. “Amanah is the accountability perspective and the transparency perspective. We try to focus on that.”
She tells heartwarming stories she has experienced, such as Eid toy drives for non-Muslims. When children are surprised to receive gifts, she explains, “The happiness of Eid is for everybody.”
Tune in to hear more from Sumayya about the importance of building interfaith bridges in the relief sector.
“We are looking forward to work on the interfaith harmony and to focus on the issues,” she says, “not only for the Muslims but for the Christians too, and to link it with the livelihoods and other basic needs of the people.”
“What a Relief!” is the official podcast of Islamic Relief USA. Co-hosted by social media specialist B.C. Dodge& Mordant Mahon, IRUSA’s “What a Relief!” puts a human face on what’s going on in the world and how you can enact positive change in it. New episodes every week!
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