CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide to visit Trinity

Dr M AOur speaker on Tuesday 13 October will be Dr Mohamed Ashmawey – CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide, charity that is very similar to Christian Aid. Dr Ashmawey will be talking about the charity he leads and how a faith-based organisation operates in a complex world. Please note the date and come along to what promises to be a fascinating evening.  We are hoping for a good attendance both from Trinity’s community and from visitors.  The meeting begins at 8pm, with coffee/tea available from 7.30pm.

This charity was founded in Birmingham in 1984 and went worldwide in 1989. Its aims are to:

  • Protect Life and Dignity: Enabling communities to reduce the risks and effects of disasters by preparation for their occurrences, hazard mitigation and timely response through providing effective relief, protection and recovery;
  • Empower Communities: Enabling the sustainable development of the communities we work with through integrated development underpinned with sustainable livelihoods, social justice and environmental custodianship;
  • Campaign for Change: Supporting the marginalised and vulnerable to voice their needs and address root causes of poverty and suffering, and
  • Strengthen the Islamic Relief Family: Building a governance system and infrastructure for the growing Islamic Relief global partnership that will maximise the size, efficiency and effectiveness of our operations to alleviate poverty and suffering.

In fact, it has much in common with Christian Aid, working around the world seeking to alleviate the worst effects of poverty and natural disasters, whilst also promoting sustainable development, regardless of faith.

This occasion has come about through an event to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) in London in December 2013. I attended for Trinity. Our church was invited as a regular supporter of DEC Appeals through the money we set aside for emergencies in our annual Gift Day fund-raising. And I met Dr Ashmawey there because Islamic Relief Worldwide has been an active member of DEC since 2005.

Dr Ashmawey was born in Egypt but has spent most of his adult life in the USA. He is an engineer by profession. He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1988 before moving into the corporate sector where he held a number of senior roles including as a Vice-Chairman and Country-Head for Electronic Data Systems.

He was appointed CEO of IRW in early 2012 and leads the Islamic Relief family in over 40 countries around the world. Whilst addressing ongoing crises he is transforming Islamic Relief into an impact-led and rights-based development international non-governmental organisation that helps people lift themselves out of poverty. His many years of corporate management expertise in process re-engineering and organisational restructuring is helping to change the way that IRW works across the world.

Dr Ashmawey has also had to deal with a number of challenges that are hard to avoid in the controversies of the Muslim world. IRW has been branded a terrorist organisation by three countries – Israel, Russia and United Arab Emirates (UAE). The first two are not so surprising as IRW has long-standing operations in war-torn Gaza/Palestine and the North Caucasus including Chechnya. The UAE designation occurred last November when its government named 83 bodies including IRW as terrorists. This action was aimed principally at the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist militants such as al-Qaeda, reflecting the complex politics of the Middle East.

In my original invitation to Dr Ashmawey, I expressed the view that the work of IRW is so contrary to popular myths about Islam and Muslims that many more people should know about it. I am very much looking forward to hearing him describe his charity’s work around the world and how it navigates the multiple challenges. I hope you will be similarly intrigued so please note the date – Tuesday 13 October at 7.30 pm.

–  Robin Goodchild

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