Ayesha’s Cycle Challenge

A poetic summary of reflections on my Andalusia Cycle Challenge 2016 for Islamic Relief’s Water4Life project:

 

Cycling through the plains of the stunning South of Spain

While desperately trying to distract myself from the pain

That led from my backside right down to my knees…

I inhaled the smell of a thousand olive trees

Continue reading “Ayesha’s Cycle Challenge”

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Trial and tribulations

Luton Islamic Centre, located in the heart of Bury Park, is a hive of activity. Daily there are study classes open to men and women. On Saturday nights volunteers from the mosque serve soup to the homeless on Luton’s streets. The prayer hall, meanwhile, regularly overflows with aid supplies, ready to be dispatched to the desperate and destitute in war-torn Syria. And while many other mosques turn women away at the front door, this one welcomes them, inviting them to participate in the religious life of the community. Continue reading “Trial and tribulations”

Conquering our challenge

This is a guest post by Idil Osman.

Taking on Tough Mudder was one of the most challenging days each one of us have had. It was both emotionally and physically taxing, but yet immensely rewarding. The challenge to do Tough Mudder was of course our brother Bashir’s plan. He embarked on a fundraising campaign to build 50 wells across some of the driest and drought prone areas in east Africa. He had a fun raising target of £165,000, which he hoped to achieved by asking people to sponsor him to undertake Tough Mudder. Continue reading “Conquering our challenge”

Batman v Superman

Look superheroes, if you’re going to start competing with each other, at least let it be for a good cause. Put away those grudges, drop all that talk of supremacy and get yourselves down to Regents Park in London, for the ever brilliant Superhero Run.

Seriously, you guys, planet earth has a lot bigger problems to deal with than some idiot called Zod and your petty battles over who can change into his costume quickest. Problems like access to clean water. Imagine the good you could have done with the $225 million you spent walloping each other for 2.5 hours. Not to mention the fun you could have had.

Last year nearly 40 brave men and women took to the park on Sunday 17th May, raising thousands of pounds for Islamic Relief’s Water4Life campaign. Team Mix It Up — a group of ladies who train at a women-only fitness centre in Aston — raised almost £3000 between them. These superheroes signed up for this challenge to promote fitness and wellbeing in their community and to raise funds for clean, safe drinking water in developing countries.

So come on Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, whoever: bury the hatchet and break out those running shoes. Get yourself down to the Superhero Run on 15th May to raise funds for Islamic Relief. You’ll be joining 3,000 runners raising money for a tonne of other charities. You don’t need to have experience: it’s the taking part that matters, not the winning — so you can always jog or walk if you need to.

Last year’s event was a fantastic day out for all involved. They were true superheroes, raising funds to provide access to that most vital resource, that most of us take for granted: clean water. Be the change you want to see in the world. Be a superhero for the day.

For more information and to sign up, please visit the Islamic Relief challenges website today.

Kishy’s Marrakech Half Marathon

This is a guest post by Kishwar Willoughby. Enjoy!

On the 31st January 2016 I completed my first half marathon — all 13 miles of it — in the sunnier climes of north Africa. I was taking part in the Marrakech Marathon with fellow supporters of Human Appeal.

This is not something I would normally do. It was quite out of the ordinary to be honest, being the mother of two boys under 5, and I really didn’t have time to go out walking anywhere let alone train.

My mother passed away just over 10 years ago, when I was 16 years of age. Each day, every memory comes to me; as a child it’s natural to want to do everything for your parents. That’s where my volunteering started at Human Appeal. I saw the lives that Human Appeal International had changed and with that I wanted and intended to build a water well in the memory of my late dear mother, specifically in a poverty-stricken country, where people struggle to access clean water.

The thought of doing this for a good cause — as well as being a way of sending sadqa jariya ahead — was what motivated me to take on this massive challenge of running a half marathon. But I also wanted to show people that anything is possible for a woman and mother — and hopefully inspire them too.

As you can imagine juggling motherhood responsibilities with preparation for a marathon was not easy; more so as a single parent, as I needed to balance my training with the needs of my children. Alhamdullilah, I made it work, training twice a week. Indeed every training run made me more and more determined to complete my challenge.

What made me even more determined was my desire to prove that women can be fit and run marathons for charity, as well as being a stay-at-home mum! So that’s exactly what I did!

After weeks of training I finally completed the Marrakech Half Marathon in a tiring 2 hours and 58 minutes! It was a challenge, but I wanted to push myself running through the beautiful scenery of Marrakech. The sun was beaming down all day, with not a cloud in sight! Alhamdullilah, I did it!

The support system from everyone was brilliant; we even had our own little Human Appeal fan club cheering us on! I met many new people from around the world. Our short stay was truly an extraordinary experience! Alhamdullilah, I completely met my fundraising target. I’m proud to say that the work of building the water well in Senegal will now begin.

Coventry Half-Marathon success

On Sunday 28 February 2016, a team of 75 runners supporting Penny Appeal hit the streets of Coventry, pounding the pavements for over 13 miles to raise money to support refugees.

They took part in Coventry’s Half Marathon and far exceeded their fundraising targets, bringing in over an incredible £46,000 for Penny Appeal’s Refugee Emergency campaign. The money will go on to provide vital aid to those fleeing conflict, with the charity’s teams on the ground in places like Lebanon, Syria and Greece, delivering things such as nutritious food, warm clothes and hygiene kits.

Mergim Butaja, whose family fled from war-torn Kosovo when he was just seven years old, said the challenge was a way of showing solidarity with those in desperate need. He said: “Despite the setbacks during training and a few muscular pains at the start I was determined to finish the race. Jog, sprint, walk, hop, roll or crawl – I was going to finish!”

Throughout the winter, the team has been meeting up to train together, inspiring one another to try harder. Signing up is one thing but to commit to fundraising, then turning up on race day, takes a huge amount of courage and determination.

“Running Coventry’s Half Marathon was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life!” said Samera Rehman.

Susie James agreed. “I’m so glad I said yes to this challenge!” she said, “I found out about an incredible charity, which does the most incredible things for the most vulnerable refugees. I challenged myself physically by running further than I ever have before — channelling every pain and injury into a focus on the task in hand: raising funds for those suffering much greater pains.”

The #TeamOrange volunteer family also hosted a special Cheer Station at mile 12, giving runners a bit of extra encouragement for the final mile. They handed out juicy oranges, donated by a generous sponsor, and made plenty of noise as the 5,000 runners made their way past. The new Penny Appeal bus was also present, giving supporters an insight into the charity’s work to help the poor and needy worldwide.

 

To join #TeamOrange or find out about upcoming challenges and volunteer activities, visit the Penny Appeal website.

 

Primal Stampede

This is a guest post by Shehzad Modoolla.

Like many guys my age, I grew up watching shows like Fort Boyard, and always wanted to try my hand at something similar. But like many other guys my age, life always seemed to get in the way! There was always something else to do or somewhere else to be. My work mates have been doing Tough Mudder for the last couple years and every year I said I would join them, but never did.

So, when my Mrs signed up for Primal Stampede with her work colleagues and signed me up (without asking me!), I didn’t have much of a choice. It was already paid for, the weekend was free, the weather was forecast to be good — no excuses really.

Primal StampedeI was a bit reluctant at first, but when I looked into it, the gym (Primal Gym) appeared to be quite different — good different! Four free gym passes and four free customised outdoor training sessions came with the subscription so we both decided to give it a go. Might as well get some training under our belt so at least we don’t die on the day! Best decision ever! The gym training is completely different to anything I’ve seen before, the best way I can describe it, is it’s… organic (look it up!).

For a first in Leeds, Primal Stampede’s assault course was perfectly well balanced — just the right level of difficulty for beginners to get through, and experienced athletes to be challenged. A combination of load carrying, ice baths, water slides and the obligatory mud pit filled the day with fun and excitement. Two laps were required to complete the course, but at the end of it I felt like I could have done another one!

I enjoyed it so much I’m going back for another serving this year! Who would have thought! My advice to anyone else who, like me, has been putting it off would be to just take the plunge and go for it. Mud runs or assault courses or whatever other fancy names they are called these days, are really good fun.

Oh and all the time I raised money for Orphans in Need and the Jane Tomlinson’s Appeal.

Bring on 2016!

Women’s Winter Walk to Malham Cove

interpal-malham-coveThe winter walking season is well and truly upon us, keeping our limbs supple despite the icy chill. Gone are the days of sheltering indoors in the warmth of home: challenges call us, begging us to forgo comfort for a little while in order to support those less fortunate than ourselves.

So sisters pull on those winter scarves and extra layers; pull on that warm coat, walking shoes and gloves. The Yorkshire Dales — our little piece of paradise on earth — begs your company. It’s time to head for nature’s amphitheatre at Malham Cove, marching across open fields and by fast-flowing streams. Embrace the sisterhood and join Interpal’s Palestine Winter Walk, raising funds for destitute Palestinians.

In these times of political chaos, a walk in the countryside will be just what the doctor ordered. Reflect on the majesty of Allah and His creation as you head on over spongy grass, beneath leafless trees. Revel in good company. Feel refreshed and invigorated in the cold winter air. Work up a sweat and feel alive once more.

Malham Cove is a huge curved cliff formation of limestone rock, 260 feet high. It affords brilliant views down the dale towards Malham and beyond; no wonder it has been the source of inspiration for many an artist and author for centuries. Limestone pavements are a feature of Malham Cove and surrounding areas. The clints and grykes foster a unique eco-system for rare wild flowers and ferns.

This winter walk in support of Palestine is for women and girls only. Registration costs just £15, but you will need to try to raise £100 sponsorship from your friends and family. This is a unique opportunity to enjoy beautiful sisterhood whilst enjoying some of the most breath-taking scenery England has to offer.

This sponsored walk takes place on Saturday 23rd January 2016, 8am till 3pm, with transport available from Bradford and Dewsbury. Invite your friends and family to take part, and make a day of it. Once you have tasted the countryside of Britain, you’ll crave it time and again. The wilds are calling.

To register or find out more, please call 01274 656985 (Bradford) or 01924 466668 (Dewsbury).

Walk, jog or run the Coventry Half Marathon to help Refugees

Get active for a good cause by joining Penny Appeal’s “Run For Their Lives” challenge!

Penny Appeal’s new fundraising manager Haroon Mota will be leading #TeamOrange as they take on 13.1 miles at Coventry’s Half Marathon on Sunday 28th February, and you could be one of them.

#TeamOrange are looking for amazing individuals like you to join Haroon and take on this incredible challenge, to provide vital provisions for refugees who have been forced to flee their homes. You’ll help provide food packs, hygiene essentials and medical supplies, which for many people could be the difference between life and death.

Also taking on this challenge is Mergim Butaja, star from 2015 BBC The Apprentice series. You could be joining him and the rest of the team. This is your chance to do something AMAZING!

Registration & further info: https://www.pennyappeal.org/appeal/run-for-their-lives

Penny Appeal fundraiser Haroon Mota For enquiries contact Haroon

– M:  07743 518 068 E: haroon.mota@pennyappeal.org

Follow and support the team on Twitter @Haroon_Mota

Penny Appeal joined forces with Amir Khan to deliver a life saving convoy to refugees arriving on Lesbos Island

Islamic Help Central African Republic Tough Mudder Challenge

On 26 September 2015, a group of Islamic Help supporters from Bedford will be taking part in Tough Mudder in an effort to raise funds to save lives in the Central African Republic (CAR), which is in the grips of a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic proportions.

Ethno-religious violence and political instability in CAR have left the country’s entire population vulnerable and more than 2 million people in need of humanitarian aid. Men, women and children continue to be killed. Homes, clinics, hospitals and schools have already been destroyed. The wounded continue to die slow deaths and their dead continue to remain unburied.

The funds raised will go towards supporting 25 families for 1 month. Islamic Help has carried out a major food and aid distribution programme at its camp for refugees from the Central African Republic. A team from the UK joined forces with staff at the camp in Garoua Boulai, Cameroon, for the project which ensures all the refugees in the camp have enough food to sustain them for a month.

Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile obstacle course, featuring challenges which play on common human fears, such as fire, water, electricity and heights. It’s not for the fainthearted!

To support team Bedford take on this awesome challenge, please visit their fundraising page on the Islamic Help website

Insane Eid for Orphans in Need

This is a guest post by Shokat Zaman, Fundraising Officer at the award-winning charity, Orphans in Need.

Straight after Eid on Sunday 27 September, Orphans in Need will be taking part in Insane Terrain Part II. As the title suggests, this follows on from Insane Terrain Part I, which I participated in back in April this year.

Participants have the option of choosing either the 5k or 10k runs. Opting to err on the side of caution, we chose the 5k run, which by the end of the race, proved to be plenty!

My experiences of that day are still fresh in my mind. We started the day with a lovely early morning drive heading up from London to Peterborough, past the lovely Cambridgeshire countryside, before being guided onto a grassy area, which served as a makeshift car park for the run. It was difficult not feel uneasy at the sight which greeted us as we left the car, which was a large group athletic looking guys crumble to their knees, panting for breath. We quickly walked past them after making sure they were alright, eager not to tamper our excitement at the prospect of overcoming this awesome challenge.

insane

After being given a five-minute warm-up by a guy who bore a strong resemblance to the Drill Instructor from ‘Full Metal Jacket’, we made our way to the start line. The crowd who were there to watch us from the sidelines were a bright and cheerful bunch, quick to give their friends and family members taking part words of advice; “Have you warmed up properly, mate?”. “Pace yourself, don’t go running ahead of the pack from the start” said another.

The Orphans in Need crew came together in a huddle, giving ourselves a mini pep-talk before the start of the race. After a few brotherly hugs, we stood – arms akimbo- toes on the start line. As the horn sounded to signal the start of the run, many of us for whom this was a first experience, couldn’t help but smile through the first 100 metres.

After clambering up giant haystacks and wading through ankle deep streams of water which cut across the forest track, some of us made the decision to part company with the group. It was a pragmatic decision based upon careful consideration of the facts; we were tired!

The real sticking point came when our team members Mohammed and Hamza came across a big body of water stacked with a series of small sponge steps which we were expected to jump from one to the other without stopping, lest they fall into the water. After successfully navigating this particular challenge, Humza decided to pull Mohammed back and into the water. Mohammed was quick minded enough to pull Humza in with him, to hoots of laughter from all around.

By the time we reached the finishing line, having navigated our way through zip wires in the forest and balancing poles, we topped it off by sliding across a 30ft water slide being sprayed with fairy liquid. Yes we were tired, cold, wet and caked in mud, but we all felt we had achieved something that day. We pushed ourselves to the limit not because we had to, but because we chose to. In the end, it wasn’t tiredness that we felt, but an overwhelming sense of pride and satisfaction.

If you’d like to help me accomplish this daunting but rewarding challenge, please donate towards my sponsorship by visiting:

https://www.justgiving.com/Shokat-Zaman2

For further information or if you’d like to take part in our upcoming Insane Terrain challenge on 27 September 2015, please visit the Orphans in Need website. Free transport will be provided from London and Birmingham.

Insane Terrain II for Orphans in Need

Hold onto your hats: this is going to cheer you up. Orphans in Need have a fabulous challenge lined up for you this September: their perfectly muddy off road obstacle course race, Insane Terrain, is back, spanning either 5km or 10km (your choice).

Taking place on 27 September near Peterborough, it’s a sponsorship event designed to help build a safe and loving orphanage providing holistic care for 150 orphans in Kashmir. Every pound that you raise by taking on this challenge will go towards making this vision a reality.

For more information, visit their Insane Terrain web page and sign up today. This is definitely a date for your diary!

Let’s eat cake

Like many people, we’ve looked on at Islamic Relief’s Cakes4Syria campaign with a mixture of awe and humility. Twice a week throughout the month of Ramadan, hundreds of volunteers have given up their own time to deliver over 15,000 delicious cakes nationwide. Yesterday alone they delivered 6000 of them in anticipation of a chocolaty Eid. Most of us have forgotten the heat wave of the first half of Ramadan; not so these valiant volunteers.

The Cake Campaign — the brainchild of enthusiastic Islamic Relief volunteer, Abdul Basit Ali — began in Bradford two years ago during the holy month of Ramadan. The formula is simple: famished folk order a tasty chocolate fudge cake for £10 and £5 of the proceeds are donated to Islamic Relief. It’s a win-win situation: we all get cake, while funds are raised for vulnerable refugees.

Last year the campaign went nationwide, with more and more volunteers joining forces to bring cake to the masses during the longest fasts of the decade. As is often the case with the eager volunteers who are the backbone of every charity, not even the hunger of a 19 hour fast could dampen their dedication to the cause.

With over a hundred volunteers manning the phones and almost a thousand more delivering cakes by car and on foot, it has been a logistical operation of immense proportions which, over the past three years, has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for humanitarian relief in Syria.

cakes4syria-london-team-800x600

Naturally this massively successful campaign has spawned many imitators, as other charities seek to capitalise on its astounding success. This year, for example, SKT Welfare launched its own take on the initiative with its Dates 4 Syria campaign, utilising nearly identical branding and a carbon copy business model. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Cake Campaign must accept the adulation.

The genius and thoughtfulness of the campaign was incredible. In a move that would do Willy Wonka proud, the final batch of cakes were sent out with five Golden Tickets hidden inside the box. We suspect that even Augustus Gloop ordered a cake for Syria this week. Sadly not all of us were lucky enough to have our slice of cake this year, but we have no doubt this extraordinary campaign will return next year and grow from strength to strength.

Surely it is humbling to see what a vast group of dedicated volunteers can achieve when they all pull together for a common cause. Volunteers of Great Britain, we salute you! Watching from the sidelines (we’re not affiliated with any of the charities involved), we have been seriously impressed and are just an incy-wincy bit jealous. Mashallah, I think it’s okay to be envious of good deeds, mashallah, mashallah! May Allah grant us all the ability to act with such thoughtful selflessness as has been exhibited by this troop of volunteers over the past month.

The one outstanding issue that needs resolving for us, however, is how the nation is planning to burn off all those extra calories imbibed through overindulgence on chocolate fudge cake. Naturally, in a shameless act of self-promotion, we think we have the answer. It’s time to get training for our Adha Challenge of course. You’ve got two months to lick yourself into shape.

Let’s all eat cake this Eid. But when the baklava, halva, gulab jamum, marshmallows and oh too tasty cake have all been dusted off,  you must break out those running shoes. It’s nearly time for another adventure.

Muslim Hands Crawl of Duty

Muslim Hands Scotland presents, Crawl of Duty: a 5K assault course to test your strength and stamina.

Join Muslim Hands as they embark on this obstacle packed mission to raise money for their Emergency Fund to support crises in Iraq, Palestine and Central Africa. Test your ability to the max and fuel your inner adrenaline to its peak as you fight for survival. From crawling through tunnels to jumping over walls and facing the ice cold water, you’ll be pushing yourself to the limit.

This gender segregated challenge (separate tracks for men and women) takes place at the Scottish Adventure Centre, Craufurdland Castle, Fenwick, East Ayrshire. If you live in Scotland or the north of England, this is a challenge not to be missed!

crawlofduty-poster

Book your place today: https://muslimhandsuk.wufoo.eu/forms/crawl-of-duty/

Taking on Tough Mudder for clean water in Gaza

On 13 September  this year,  Jacqueline Choudhury will be taking on Tough Mudder as part of  Bioticfit’s #teamgreen to raise funds for Muslim Aid‘s  Gaza clean water campaign.  Bioticfit is said to be South Manchester’s biggest fitness community, specialising in outdoor fitness classes.

Tough Mudder is an endurance event in which participants attempt to complete a very muddy 10 mile  obstacle course.  Jacqueline will be taking part in the North West event at Cholmondeley Estate in Cheshire.

Muslim Aid is working on the ground in Gaza to assist those affected by the conflict, where thousands lack basic items as well as adequate food and clean water to keep them healthy.

Click here to help   Jacqueline  raise funds for sanitation in Gaza. 

Update:  Jaqueline completed the challenge, raising  £310 for Muslim Aid.

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