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Forest Gate charity helps thousands in its first year

PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 October 2016 | UPDATED: 11:19 31 October 2016

Volunteer Asif Bax with Syrian refugees in Lesvos, Greece. Picture: Abdullah Aid

Volunteer Asif Bax with Syrian refugees in Lesvos, Greece. Picture: Abdullah Aid

Abdullah Aid

Volunteers of an international aid relief charity which has helped refugees at the former Calais "Jungle" are looking for renewed support.

50 sewing machines were donated to West Bengal by the charity. Picture: Abdullah Aid50 sewing machines were donated to West Bengal by the charity. Picture: Abdullah Aid

Shakil Malji, co-founder and director/chairman of Forest Gate charity Abdullah Aid, says his organisation exists to help those who have “literally got nothing” and says it has so far helped thousands of people.

The married father-of-one, whose charity was officially registered in March, has helped provide vulnerable people with food, warm clothing and blankets – even new homes.

To date, Abdullah Aid has helped people in countries including France, India and Greece, plus closer to home in Stratford where food donations have been given to rough sleepers.

Future support will include assisting homeless rough sleepers, care homes and hospices across London.

Shakil Malji with five-year-old beneficiary Lujaines. Picture: Abdullah AidShakil Malji with five-year-old beneficiary Lujaines. Picture: Abdullah Aid

Dunbar Road resident Shakil was inspired to help others after overcoming personal tragedy.

His son Abdullah, who the charity is named after, passed away last December aged 13 months as a result of contracting spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) at five months old.

It was when Shakil’s son became ill “that these thoughts came into my head that life is about helping people”.

“We wanted to keep a legacy for my child,” he said. “He has taught me that life is not only about doing things for yourself. It has given me peace in my heart.”

Volunteers from the charity. Picture: Abdullah AidVolunteers from the charity. Picture: Abdullah Aid

The occasion car-hire businessman and his two friends Irfan Achhodi and Rizwan Patel began their humanitarian aid in 2015, visiting Calais’ “suffering” refugees.

Warm clothes and wellies, plus 500 food packs, were distributed to children and families there.

Following this came an eight-day, 12-person trip to Lesos in Greece in February where food was distributed to hundreds after £40,000 was raised.

“It was one of the best moments of my life, we got to help so many people,” said Shakil, who had witnessed “families crying and children with lost fathers and mothers” on a previous visit.

The charity has also supported 50 families in West Bengal in India with water pumps, food and new homes, plus sewing machines and motor rickshaws to help individuals become economically independent.

“Religion, race, colour does not make a difference to us, it’s humanity,” said Shakil.

The security-checked volunteers fund their own trips while the charity sustains itself through gift aid income, meaning 100 per cent of all donations go to beneficiaries.

Now Shakil hopes to support Richard House Children’s Hospice in Beckton and is appealing for people to get involved with awareness making, fundraising or volunteering.

“We just want people to know we are here and this is what we are doing,” he said.

Abdullah Aid, 81 Upton Lane, E7 9PB, 020 8279 0166, abdullahaid.org.uk

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