Successful Iftar-Dinner Hosted by the Aligarh Alumni Association of Washington
By Dr Zafar Iqbal
It was a scorching hot afternoon with the temperature approaching three digits, but this did not deter well-wishers of educational programs run by the Aligarh Alumni Association of Washington DC; they came in large numbers to express their support and contribute to scholarship fund and feeder programs. The fundraising Iftar-dinner was held at the Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, Maryland on Saturday, July 22, 2013. In spite of 5 other competing fund-raising programs at the same time in the metropolitan Washington area, the attendance at this event was significantly high.
The program started with the recitation of a Qur’anic Sura and its translation by teenagers Furqan Ahmad and Zakaria Khan, respectively. Welcoming the guests, President Dr Razi Raziuddin thanked the audience for their attendance and briefly outlined the significance of the program that supports education of underprivileged children.
Taameen Mohammad, a young school girl, talked about the importance of education and emphasized that learning at all stages of life was essential for progress. Quoting Malala Yousufzai’s speech at the United Nations, Taameen said that Malala's call for “One student, one book, and one pen” would change the world for the better.
Areej Faiz presented herself as an example of the financial support extended by this Association to deserving students. She was a recipient of the AMU Scholarship of the Association while doing her LLB at AMU. She then joined LLM under the Exchange of Students for Higher Studies Program between the Aligarh Muslim University and the George Washington University in Washington, DC. This scholarship program was established by Frank Islam, an Alig and esteemed member of the Association. Areej acknowledged that it was because of the generosity of donors that she was able to pursue higher studies.
Dr Aftab Ansari, Chairman of Scholarship Committee, traced the history and progression of the Scholarship program that had a humble beginning with 10 scholarships a few years ago, and 229 scholarships provided last year. He also outlined the process of selection, which involves several factors, such as students’ grades, family income in the first cut, then the donor preference such as geographical location, and subjects. Scholarship renewal is based on the performance of the recipient.
Dr Razi Raziuddin, in-charge of feeder program, apprised the audience of the dire need of the program at primary and secondary school level to preparing students for colleges and universities. In addition to providing tuition, each scholarship recipient also gets additional financial support for buying books and stationary. With an initial start of a few scholarships to primary and middle level students at accredited feeder institutions, it supported 340 students at 17 feeder institutions in 2012. Recently, a new program was also initiated to provide coaching facilities to college-level students. Last year, the Association was able to support 7 coaching centers with 590 students at different cities and provinces throughout the country.
Guest speaker Suhail Farooqi recalled his days at the University and said he considered himself and others sitting in the audience lucky to have got a chance to get education and prosper. He emphasized the fact that those children who did not have the privilege to continue their education because of financial problems were as smart as us. We should not forget that our education, wealth and health are gift from Allah and we should always keep our fellow community members in our thoughts. A small token from our bounty can help the future of many students.
Chief Guest and keynote speaker Frank Islam, an Alig and a successful entrepreneur and an example of the American dream come true, talked about Sir Syed’s vision and emphasized the significance of education in shaping a family’s future. He quoted Presidents’ Obama’s remark: “Education will be the currency of 21 st century.” Mr Islam, who had been contributing generously to academic causes, said that he believed that “giving was much more pleasing than making money.”
The senior-most Aligarian, Mr Fatehul Azam — a 1952 graduate of Engineering College, and Mr Tufail Ahmad, the founding president of the Association, were recognized at the event.
In her concluding remarks Dr Atia Khan made a passionate plea for supporting the educational strivings of the Association. She said that she is involved with HDF and understands the challenges for running such programs. She commended the Association for presenting a detailed picture of the process and accounting.
Youngster Azam Husain did a splendid job as Master of Ceremony. He was a real delight.
The program was coordinated by Dr Rafat Husain. The zest and hard work of an enthusiastic group of volunteers – young and old—made the program a grand success.