Thursday, July 5, 2012

Project IQra Details


Project IQra is an initiative aimed at uplifting communities through the enrichment of their secondary and tertiary education. The project focuses on underprivileged grade 11 learners, by equipping them and their schools with adequate materials and knowledge to assist them in progressing through their final year of secondary schooling and into a tertiary institute.

A total of 15 schools, in Gauteng, Free State, Kwazulu Natal  with approximately 3000 grade 11 learners will be identified as beneficiaries of the project. There will be an identification process where schools will be chosen, based on already available information and statistics from the South African Department of Education and the broad development focused institution, the South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF).


The learners will be provided with individual packages containing materials that will assist them in successfully getting through matric and providing a basis for their tertiary education. In addition, the schools will be provided with school packs in order to assist in the educating of the students and facilitating more efficient lessons. Below is a list of the materials. Please note, the materials are subject to the needs of the respective schools. After all 15 schools have been identified the needs will be provided by the school and the list will be adjusted appropriately.

Each student packs will each contain the following:

·         A selection of four study guides based on the subjects that each child currently takes.

·         A selection of basic stationery, including exercise books, pens, pencils, ruler and eraser.

·         Advanced stationery, including a scientific calculator and a maths set

·         Additional study guides

·         Matric past exams papers (printouts)

·         Bursary information packs

·         University/Technikon/College information and application forms

·         A rechargeable desk lamp

·         A school bag

 The school packs will contain the following:

·         A selection of facilitating DVD’s, per subject

·         A basic laptop with a DVD player

·         An over-head projector


In addition to providing the materials, a Careers Day for the 3000 students will be hosted at the participating universities and will focus on providing the learners with the adequate knowledge needed in order to enter into a tertiary institution, exposing the learners to the faculties available at these tertiary institutions as well as provide them with the motivation and incentive to pursue a further qualification. This will allow them to gauge the opportunities that they have based on their interests, the subjects they’re currently taking, the grades required, the application processes etc. The day will include presentations by various faculties, students and representatives of the Department of Education.


Project IQra spans four phases:

1.       Fundraising and advertising for the project. This will take place from June till 17 September.

2.       Actively identifying schools, engaging with them and based on the identifying process, establishing the needs of the schools and learners. This will take place in August.

3.       Getting mass student involvement on each campus and, as a collective, putting the 3000 individual packs together and actively taking them to the schools for distribution. This will take place from 17 to 20 September.

4.       Preparing and implementing the Career’s Day at the universities on 21 September.

MSA Project IQra :
4 Provinces
8 campus MSA's
3000 learners
R 3 million

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For more information email

MSA Project IQra Press Release

The Muslim Students Association Union, representing 18 campuses across 8 cities in South Africa, is excited to announce the launch of their newest endeavour- Project IQra. The MSA have always been one of the few student organisations who have successfully managed to merge massive and enthusiastic student involvement with that of charitable initiatives within our local communities. This year, under their new leadership, the MSA Union is upholding the legacy of true humanity and pioneering this novel project.

For the past 8 years, MSA bodies across the country have successfully been running the RHP (Ramadhaan Humanitarian Project) initiatives, with immense success and efficiency. However this year, the MSA has decided to undertake a new venture which exemplifies the foresight and visionary leadership that the Union possesses. Recognising the great importance of knowledge, as well as the lack of adequate facilities to acquiring this knowledge that so many of the youth of our country suffer from, the MSA is proud to announce the launch of Project IQra in 2012.

 Project IQra is an initiative aimed at uplifting communities through the enrichment of their secondary and tertiary education. The project focuses on underprivileged grade 11 learners, by equipping them and their schools with adequate materials and knowledge to assist them in progressing through their final year of secondary schooling and into a tertiary institute. This project, a ground-breaking idea in its implementation and much-needed action, will provide power packs to both future Matric learners as well as their schools. The MSA is excited to announce that together with these packs containing vital educational material and equipment, a Careers Day will be organised as well, facilitating the transition of these underprivileged youth to a tertiary education.

Project IQra is in its advanced phases of organisation and will, inshAllah, be happening over the week of the 17th-22nd September of this year. The MSA, since its inception in 1974, has always been a visionary student body, driving student activism and contributing to the community immeasurably. We hope that this project will take the abilities of the MSA to new heights, enabling and inspiring all of us to make positive and progressive changes and contributions to the world we live in.
Submitted by MSA Project IQra 2012 Working Group (

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lift, Lifta

(This was written via my personal blog last year)
Last year, a group called, “1948 Lest We Forget,” filed an application to the World Monuments Fund (WMF) for Lifta, a Palestinian village, to be included on the 2012 World Monuments Watch list. The reason the WMF were chosen was because they’re an independent organization (registered as a charity in New York) who require no national or state endorsement for nominations. They are linked to the saving of many historical and treasured places in the world.

Research was carried out by the group- Lifta’s history, architecture, cultural and social character and they had, “found it to be an embodiment of everything Palestinian.”

However, Lifta’s history is being somewhat hidden behind its very own domed roofs.

Lifta is the only Palestinian village that has been left as it was before the Zionist war in 1948, when 500 Arab villages throughout Palestine were demolished by colonial Zionists. The now depopulated Lifta was built by its own inhabitants, who constructed, “cube-like buildings,” topped by the well-known domed roofs. The domed roofs were made from the “single natural material that the inhabitants employed”- The Special Jerusalem Stone. The community had built their houses without hindering the natural beauty of the area or destroying the gentle hills- the houses had looked and felt like it belonged there. Many of the homes remain intact to date, in view of the speciality of the Jerusalem stone. The village itself dates back to biblical times of Muslims, Christians and Jews living harmoniously.

Lifta was occupied in 1948, one of the main strategic reasons being that it was in close proximity to Jerusalem. Both Muslim and Christians were evicted from their homes by use of, “brutal, racist tactics,” and the Jews given place to stay, thereby achieving the Zionist goal of ethnic cleansing.

Currently, the few inhabitants are Jewish, but most of Lifta has been kept deserted by Israeli authorities. In an attempt to stop the original owners from claiming their land, squatters, drug dealers and gangs have been roaming the area destroying the domed roofs of the houses. Lifta now faces demolition by private developers at the hands of The Israel Land Administration (ILA) who will eventually rid this village off any Palestinian history and memory. The ILA’s plans include a, “building of 212 housing units exclusively for Jews, a luxury hotel, a shopping mall and a museum.” In addition to the current efforts of driving the original occupants away from attempting to claim their homes, the redevelopment is also in aid of totally nullifying any potential efforts made by the depopulated at getting their homes back. They were evicted, and by law, no longer hold the right to return to their land- they cannot gain citizenship nor return to their homeland.

Daphna Golan, a Professor of Law at the Hebrew University described the move as being primarily political, having a face of rejuvenation in an ‘abandoned village.’ “It is a building plan geared towards erasing the past,” she says. “In other words, serving to continue the process of judaization of the land- a policy which aims to eradicate Palestinian history, memory and presence.”

The museum, if built, confirms some claims that ILA plans are, “aimed at seizing the identity and completing the Judaization process of the last remaining Palestinian village,” as the museum will only display Jewish history. Adding more to the attempt at wiping Palestinian history out, is the ILA’s designation of Lifta’s cemetery as “public land” in the plan, allowing it to be used as land for future construction in time to come.

Why is Lifta important, really?

Lifta is politically important, above the obvious architectural, social and cultural reasons. Politics played a part in the “formation and evolution” of Lifta’s architecture. After being rejected by the WMF, 1948 Lest We Forget questioned if it was for Lifta’s political history, that they were de-classified off the Watch List. The group had posted this regarding their attempt at getting Lifta on to the Watch List:

“Lifta, without doubt, is considered a “hot potato” because it is as much a symbol of the Palestinian tragedy as it is a physical manifestation of it. Could it have been, we tried to guess, Lifta’s “political” dimension which de-classified it from the Watch List?

In order that a future re-nomination of Lifta may be attempted, it was important for us to get an absolute understanding of the reasons why Lifta was de-selected in order that we

may avoid derailment in the future. We spoke to Avrami at the WMF and, after a brief discussion, we asked her, “was the decision to exclude Lifta a political one?” The answer came in an email about two weeks later and it confirmed our worst fears:

“The Watch nomination for Lifta village incorrectly located the site in the Palestinian Territory, when it is in fact within the current borders of Israel [our emphasis]. Factual inaccuracies are something taken into consideration in the review and selection process.”

It is worth repeating here that our application was accepted and validated back in February and there were no questions raised at the time, or since, about Lifta’s geographical location. Our application had clearly showed Lifta’s coordinates on the map which accompanied the application and positively placed it inside the Corpus Separatum zone designated by the 1947 Partition Plan under UN Resolution 181.

As the reason for disqualifying Lifta is seen now to be its geographical location and not necessarily the other criteria, we felt that we were about to be embroiled in a debate on an

issue which sits at the core of the Israel-Palestine question.

For the sake of historical correctness, we had no choice but to rely on international conventions to safeguard Lifta from physical oblivion. An extract of the UN Resolution 181 Partition map was sent to the WMF with another map showing the UN designated are of Jerusalem and its environs within the Corpus Separatum international zone. Lifta sat comfortably inside that zone, and as the WMF response emphasized “the current borders of Israel,” we also sent the WMF another extract of the UN map showing the 1949 Armistice Lines which wrapped around West Jerusalem and the village of Lifta at the cessation of hostilities.

We explained that these lines are exactly what they were meant to be according to international legal definitions: “Armistice Lines represent where the hostilities between the parties ceased until the warring parties reach final agreement.” This is in accordance with international law and the Geneva Convention.

In its response dated 1 November, the WMF wrote:

“World Monuments Fund is a private, not-for-profit organization that undertakes the World Monuments Watch as part of advocacy work on behalf of heritage around the world. We are not an intergovernmental organization that must abide by international conventions …” (emphasis).

However, the WMF is part of the United Nations, listed under the “Official Relations” section of UNESCO. By definition, therefore, it is required to respect international law (“UNESCO - World Monuments Fund).

But as is usually the case at the UN, rights take a back seat to politics. The US State Department’s “Diplomacy In Action” section created the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, which has donated over $2 million to the WMF. In view of the fact that the US has punished UNESCO for admitting Palestine as a member on 31 October 2011, the political link between the State Department funding and the WMF cannot be underestimated.”

They further stated that the village’s fate seemed to be directly relevant to the organization’s work:

“Bonnie Burnham, the WMF’s president, in a 2006 interview with the National Trust for Historic Preservation: “Time, war, and politics are destroyers of monuments. Which is the biggest threat? In a global context, unquestionably, the biggest is war. In addition to destroying buildings, armed conflict destroys the entire national capacity to deal with heritage” (“The Short Answer: Bonnie Burnham”).

If the WMF was prepared to address that threat, surely it would be acting to save Lifta.”

If the ILA’a plans are approved, a Jewish community will thrive in Lifta, a Palestinian place that neither belonged to them nor given to them, but stolen from Palestine- history and land. The early biblical depiction of harmony and peace between Christians and Jews may never be remembered, but the prevalence of the colonial Zionist regime will always be remembered.