Asma Khan, Orphan Sponsorship/Donor Care Manager at Islamic Relief Canada, shares her insights on further education

Asma Khan, Donor Care Manager at Islamic Relief Canada
Asma, Orphan Sponsorship/Donor Care Manager, at her desk

This Ramadan, Islamic Relief reached a new milestone by sponsoring 50,000 orphans worldwide. More than six thousand amongst those were sponsored by Islamic Relief Canada — out of which approximately 800 were sponsored just this Ramadan.

In my year and a half of working at Islamic Relief Canada as Orphan Sponsorship/Donor Care Coordinator, I’ve seen first-hand our program grow and flourish in regards to the number of orphans generous donors have sponsored.

The challenge, however, has been maintaining these sponsorships. One of the hardest things I’ve had to face to date is when a donor calls and requests to cancel their sponsorship. Most of the time, they have questions or concerns about their money and how it’s helping their child.

In that moment, I try my best to reassure the donor that their sponsorship money does in fact help. Having seen the work being put in by everyone around me, I can ensure there is accountability. What they don’t know is, upon cancellation, the orphan will no longer get the help they need unless there’s another willing donor who sponsors him/her within three months.

A common question — that I am often taken aback by — is the one receive about the monthly sponsorship fee. I can’t imagine having to maintain a decent standard of living on $50 a month for food, clothing, education, rent, and utilities, not just for myself but for my entire family. So then how can I expect that from someone else?

I was recently informed by one of our field offices about a bright teenager named Neima from Ethiopia. She’s in grade eight even though she’s nineteen years old. She lives in a rented house with her aunt (Neima’s guardian), her mother who’s unable to take care of the children and her brother.

Neima, 19, with her aunt in Ethiopia
Neima, 19, with her aunt in Ethiopia

Due to her circumstances, Neima was forced to drop out of school and had to engage in daily laborious job in order to subsidize her family’s living expenses. Neima’s priorities at an older age now unfortunately entail her working to support her family.

This story is amongst the many that I come across at work. Though they break my heart, they also show me the cruel realities of life that we, living in Canada, are blind to daily. Through working here, I have realized that a little kindness and empathy goes a long way. When a donor decides to maintain their sponsorship with their orphan, either themselves or through someone else, we are able to provide a better quality of life for the child.

Islamic Relief Canada’s newly implemented scholarship fund for orphans will give them more after they reach the age of eighteen. The late teenage years are amongst the most vulnerable for orphaned children — as they usually are forced to choose between work and continuing their education. Unfortunately, very few have the opportunity to become more successful through further education.

Children like Neima exist in every part of the world — and through our Scholarship Fund we, at Islamic Relief Canada, want to brighten their future and unlock their hidden potential. Help today.