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SAMAA Celebrated Jashne Buzurg

More than 300 attended annual event of Jashne Buzurg at Bowman Hall Blacktown Sydney

South Asian Muslim Association of Australia (SAMAA) celebrated the annual event of Jashne Buzurg at Bowman Hall, Blacktown Sydney on Sunday 12 April 2015. Well over 300 people including several dignitaries, health experts, representative from aged care agencies and providers, community leaders and a large number of SAMAA elders, volunteers and community members packed the hall and enjoyed the day with enthusiasm and joy. The longest serving parliamentarian Hon Philip Ruddock attended the event along with Hon John Robertson, former NSW Labor leader, the Parliamentary Secretary Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells also representing Hon Scott Morrison, The Minister for Social Services and Hon Mehreen Faruqi, the first South Asian Muslim MLC in NSW parliament. Other guests included Mr Talal Yassine, CEO Crescent Wealth, Mr Robert Oxford, CEO Hardi Aged Care, Caroline Collins, Deputy General Manager Operations, SummitCare, Cecilia Milani, PICAC NSW/ACT Manager and other representatives from other aged care agencies and providers.

The programme commenced with recitation of Holy Quran by Maulana Nazir ul Hassan Thanvi. The sheikh described the significance of serving the parents and elders in Islam. He emphasized that the donations to support programmes for services of elders would be a pious deed which would be rewarded in the life hereafter.

MC Mr Mohammed Ali Khan commended continued efforts by SAMAA members and volunteers in running its programmes. The famous Sydney singer Mr Riyaz Shah recited a beautiful Naat to honour the holy prophet.

A few important speeches captivated the audience. Hon Philip Ruddock applauded Australian multicultural character which has allowed communities from so many faiths, races, colours and cultures to live together happily. He paid tribute to SAMAA for providing services to the community elders.

Ms Concetta Fierravanti-Wells conveyed best wishes to SAMAA of the Minister Scott Morrison and spoke about various aged care programmes relating to culturally and Linguistically Diversified (CALD) communities. She assured support to SAMAA from the Minister’s office. Hon John Robertson, ex NSW Labor leader, praised SAMAA for contributing to the community in such an important work. He was impressed by SAMAA's effort in providing volunteering services, in negotiating culturally sensitive care with aged care providers and its efforts towards building its own aged care facilities.

Mr Zahid Jamil, representing SAMAA, spoke of various SAMAA programmes and sought support from the audience in fund raising at the event. The community members were requested to sponsor services to an elderly person at $1000 per annum. For a two hours service, SAMAA incurs a total cost of $30 which includes $12 per hour of ex gratia payment to the volunteer and $6 as petrol expense. SAMAA expects elder to pay $10 and the rest $20 is paid by SAMAA. Thus at $20 per week, the total expense for the year comes to approx. $1000.

The second item for fund raising was to support Respite Care for families who care for their elders. SAMAA is keen to engage in Respite Care programmes and is seeking grants to offer this service. However, the government grants are generally available to those CALD communities who are able to contribute part of the cost.

In long run SAMAA aims to build its own aged care facilities. Building a retirement village would be a self funded project of the community as no government grants are available for such a project. SAMAA is seeking expressions of interest from interested elders and pre-retirees who would be willing to be part of such a project. In coming months, SAMAA intends to work on various options and reach out to community with the best suited offers.

Mr Jamil also spoke of grants received by two major Muslim communities for building high care facilities of Nursing Homes. Lebanese and Turkish communities have received grants of $10 million each for their projects subject to them able to contribute $10 million dollars each. Each of these projects would cost $20 million to build. Therefore Lebanese and Turkish communities have to raise $10 million each to fulfill their dream of building a high care facility. It is a huge challenge. SAMAA is in touch with these groups and would support efforts of building a facility for the whole Muslim community.

The fund raising began with an emotional presentation by two young children. Umrah El Syed described importance of serving parents and elders in Islam. Ali El Syed read a poem depicting the difficulties of old age in an extremely emotional manner which brought tears to many eyes. The fund raising was conducted by Mr Hussain Goss, the president of Gold Coast Islamic Society, a popular figure at fund raising events.

Mrs Shaheen Firdose, the MC for the second half, supported fund raising efforts in an effective manner. Mrs Ayesha Ahmad helped in auction as several art effects and memorabilia's were auctioned. The attendees were generous in their donations to support SAMAA’s programmes. South Asian Muslim Association of Australia is listed as a public benevolent institution and donations to SAMAA are Tax Deductible.

A souvenir was published to mark the event with the support of sponsors. It carried messages from Parliamentarians. Two seniors Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad and Mr Ghulam Qutubuddin Siddiqui launched the souvenir to celebrate SAMAA's seven years journey and achievements.

Mr Afzal Hussain of SAMAA thanked the sponsors. The CEO of the main sponsor Crescent Wealth Mr Talal Yassine introduced to the audience the first Sharia compliant Superannuation Fund. Mr Yassine requested South Asian Community members to join the fund which offered ethical investment in consideration of Islamic principles. Mr Yassine also spoke of his personal interest in aged care programmes of Muslim community and about the grant LMA had received for building a high care facility at Lakemba.

There were three recipients of SAMAA's annual Volunteering Awards this year. Dr Ahad Khan introduced Mr Robert Oxford, CEO, Hardi Aged Care who handed out the awards to Mr Riyaz Shah, the famous singer, for his contribution to entertaining SAMAA elders over the years, Mrs Asima Baig Ali-Khan for her efforts in campaigning for SAMAA events and Mr Rizwan Khan for the outstanding volunteering of serving the elders over past two years.

The event featured a short play ‘Ammi Tum Kahan Ho’ which received tremendous applause from the audience. It depicted the challenges, families face in caring for their elders and how charitable bodies such as SAMAA become helpful in providing relief to elders and their families. The script of the play was written by journalist, poet and writer Mr Ashraf Shad

and was produced and directed by veteran director Mrs Saba Zaidi Abdi.

The cast included the famous Hindi poet Rekha Rajvanshi, the radio artist Aparna Vats, Nisar Sirguroh and Farjad Mahmood. The contributors to the play received token SAMAA gifts from the first South Asian Muslim MLC Mehreen Faruqi, who also applauded SAMAA for the service it is providing to the community elders.

The audience enjoyed the South Asian cuisine. The event also provided elders an opportunity to meet their contemporaries and other community members. Under guidance of Ayesha Ahmad and Mona Zahid, SAMAA volunteers were ever present in big number to cater for everyone’s needs.




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