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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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.

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.

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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.