Washington Aligarh Alumni Association Organizes Successful Fundraiser for Educational Activities
By Dr Zafar Iqbal
“Education is the gift that keeps on giving. Education empowers the mind and uplifts the soul. It is a powerful equalizer opening door to all to lift themselves out of poverty. Education is the best investment we can make to build next generations of leaders and entrepreneurs and innovators and problem solvers,” said Frank Islam delivering his keynote address at the annual Iftar-fundraiser organized by the Aligarh Alumni Association of Washington. It was held on Saturday, June 27, 2015, at James Blake High School, Silver Spring, Maryland.
Islam, an Aligarian, added that education also provides avenues for participation in 21st century workforce and careers, the competencies to compete in a globally economy, and the capacity to contribute to lifting fellow Muslims out of poverty and deprivation. He appealed to fellow Aligarians saying, “Let us together change the face of India. One life, one family, one village at a time.” Islam and his wife have committed $2 M to support the building of the Frank and Debbie Islam School of Management at Aligarh Muslim University. The building will be dedicated in October of this year.
The program started with the recitation of a Qur'anic Sura and its translation by teenagers Hiba Usmani and Aizah Usmani, respectively. Welcoming the audience, President Mrs Farzana Farooqi thanked them for their attendance and briefly outlined the significance of the program that supports education of underprivileged children.
A number of senior Aligarians, dignitaries, including Mr Tufail Ahmad and his wife Mrs Salma Ahmad, Mr Yazdani Siddiqui, Ambassador Islam Siddiqui and Mrs Tabassum Islam Siddiqui, senior Aligarian Syed Haider Abbas Zaidi and Begum Zainab Zaidi. Eight out of 25 members who started the Association in 1974 (including founding president, vice-president, and secretary), were present at this event. Besides AAA participants and supporters, a large number of members of different literary, educational and cultural organizations like the University of Karachi Alumni Association, Hyderabad Association Washington, Islamic Society of Frederick, Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, and Montgomery County Muslim Council, were also present at this important event.
The Chairman of the fundraising committee, Dr Aftab Ansari, updated the audience on the status of the Association's highly successful scholarship and Feeder programs. He informed that in the year 2014, the AAA provided 248 scholarships and free tuition and coaching facilities at over 800 school-level children at different centers in India. Also reassuring was the information that the AAA scholarship endowment funds had grown steadily over the years and scholarships are funded through the income generated by investment of the endowment fund.
Periodically, the Association institutes scholarships to honor prominent AMU alumni. Recently, it established two scholarships in the name of Professor Abdul Majid Siddiqui and Shri Narendra Kumar Singh for their extraordinary services to the community. Professor Siddiqui taught at the University for many decades and was a very popular teacher. Shri Singh, who earned a Master's in Economics degree from AMU, was an IPS officer. He was killed in the line of duty by the mining mafia in Madhya Pradesh, India. Ambassador Islam Siddiqui emphasized the importance of education and the need for uplifting the educational status of the community to empower them to compete for jobs. He appealed to the audience to make a donation saying that a small token from our bounty can help the future of many students.
Guest speaker Dr Habib Ashraf, a physician and a longtime proponent of educational program, narrated how his grandmothers were instrumental in uplifting his family through education. His speech was very motivational and he emphasized how a small support can make a big difference in the lives of underprivileged children.
It was pleasing to know that the expenses for Iftar and dinner were donated by a member, who wished to remain anonymous.
It is very reassuring to see that younger generation is joining the ranks of their elders in organizing these activities. Many a younger generation members donated generously, including full scholarships of $3,000.
Atyub Ahmad—a freshman in college—did a splendid job as Master of Ceremony. Zakaria Khan, a young college student, has inherited the “Alig” spirit. He emphasized how his parents inculcated in him the importance of education and it helped him to succeed academically as well as socially.
It was also remarkable to note that in spite of bad weather and two competing fundraisers so many proponents for education attended the event.
Mrs Shakila Raza thanked the speakers, donors, audience, and enthusiastic AAA volunteers for making the program a great success.
The program was coordinated by Dr Rafat Husain.