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Selma Cook

 

Nizma Scoffield is the founder and director of Chariots for Children. She has been involved in charity work for years but after seeing the plight of the orphans after the tsunami in 2006 she decided to sell her house in London and use the profit to buy land with the aim of constructing an orphanage in Aceh, Indonesia. “We aim at helping the most vulnerable children. At the moment, our work is in Indonesia but soon we intend to help children in Africa,” she said. 

 

The orphanage has two buildings: one for boys and one for girls. It can house up to 50 girls and 50 boys but at the moment there are only 20 children there because sponsors are needed. It costs 20 British pounds a month to pay for one orphan, including food, education, clothing, and medicine. After the recent earthquake, there are more children who have been left helpless. The orphanage is ready to take them if sponsors can be found.

 

Halima Stevenson

Recently, there was a fundraising event that was held in a small school in East London. Halima Stevenson, a former City Sister from Islam Channel, helped organize this event for the orphans in Indonesia. She said, “A lot of work still needs to be done at the orphanage. When I visited there a short time ago they were busy building a wall around the compound to keep wild animals out of the vegetable garden.” At this event children were drawing pictures and sending a message to the orphans to show that they care.

 

Nizma Scoffield

Nizma Scoffield was also at the fundraising event, selling hand made bags, mats, and purses from Indonesia. “We want the orphanage to look more homely. This event is to raise money to buy beds and cupboards for the children. The children are currently keeping their clothes and personal belongings in cardboard boxes. They are beautiful children and appreciate everything they get,” said Scoffield.

 

Halima Stevenson helped organize the event and found that many non-Muslims as well as Muslims were extremely helpful in the preparations and in giving donations. They wanted to attract a lot of Muslims to the event so they decided on a venue in East London that is close to public transport and has a large outdoor area for the children’s bouncy castle and other entertainment. There were also good sized rooms inside to hold the stalls. Hundreds of people turned up at the event offering support.

 

The orphanage is built on 8000 square meters of land. Scoffield recalled, “We bought the land empty in 2007 and it took a year to build. We were busy raising money and donors gave some money and bit by bit the building was completed. Strangely, after the tsunami the land is very fertile. Now the children have started to plant chilies and tomatoes but wild animals come down from the mountains to eat the vegetables so we are in the process of building a wall to keep them out.”

 

 The entire complex cost 85,000 British pounds. There are plenty of children who need help but sponsors are needed. “We raise money through collections in mosques, fundraising events, and in small gatherings. Last Friday, I took four teenagers with me to a mosque in Central London to collect money for the orphans and in about one hour they raised over 700 British pounds! People also give us their interest money. Because of the recent earthquake there will be more orphans, and so more sponsors are needed to subsidize them. The children now need emergency aid like blankets and food. When things settle down we will help the children attend school, and then provide shelter for them,” said Scoffield.

 

The school is a ten minute walk from the compound but the charity would also like to make classes in the compound for teenagers to teach them the many skills they need. The children get up early and each child has a turn to do housework. There are three married couples looking after the children and they are all local Indonesians. “We need more people who can speak Indonesian to help,” said Scoffield. Some children were orphaned by the tsunami in 2006, some were street children, some came from broken families, some lost their parents in armed conflict, and others were abandoned. Our motto is that we look after the most vulnerable children; they could be victims of natural or man made disasters.”

 

 

Sometimes there are orphans who have relatives they can stay with. However, these people are usually poor, so Chariots for Children gives the family a monthly stipend to pay for the orphans they care for. They also send people in regularly to check up on the orphans and ensure they are being taken care of properly and sent to school. From time to time they are given parcels and gifts and they are very grateful. 

Iraq has 5 million orphans, not to mention Afghanistan. We have a lot of work to do!” said Scoffield.



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