THE deputy minister of Social Development, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, officially launched the King Salman Aid and Relief Centre’s project under the banner ‘Food assistance to support the people of South Africa’, on February 17.
The project is underwritten by the Embassy of Saudi Arabia.
The relief project is expected to benefit 15 000 needy families with food parcels across Gauteng, North-West Province, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
In thanking King Salman and the people of Saudi Arabia, the deputy minister cited a passage from the Islamic teachings: ‘You cannot thank the Almighty if you cannot express gratitude to those around you.’
She added that the generous gesture came at a time when South Africa had been hardest hit by the economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She recalled the experience she had when she visited Riyadh. She called it a beautiful place and also commended the efforts of the authorities in improving the welfare of the physically challenged, an area in which her department shared policy expertise with counterparts in Riyadh.
‘Back in 2012, when we visited, we were ahead in policies and programmes for persons with disabilities. Today, somehow, the kingdom has overtaken us in the field.’
Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu admired the commitment of the Muslim community in the field of humanitarian work. She said that this was not just an event or an activity for a Muslim, it was a lived experience.
The Saudi ambassador to South Africa, Sultan al Angari, represented the King Salman Aid and Relief Centre at the event. He enumerated the many projects the centre has implemented since its founding in 2015. Close to U$5-billion had been spent in the fields of health, nutrition, emergency response and infrastructure, in nearly 60 countries across the globe.
‘This campaign reflects the keenness of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to cement its relationship with the friendly people and government of South Africa,’ said Mr Al Angari.
Expressing gratitude to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the deputy president of Al Bayaan Islamic Council, Shaikh Ahmed Abdi, said: ‘This contribution will totally make a huge difference and we are extremely grateful. We have no doubt that the 15 000 beneficiary families will be overjoyed by this gesture of goodwill and generosity.’
Al Bayaan Islamic Council is the implementing partner of the project. Collaborating with Al Bayaan in the distribution of the food parcels are Jamiatul Ulama South Africa, Awqaf South Africa, Gauteng Muslim Shura Council and the Central Islamic Trust/ Fordsburg Muslim Youth Organisation. All these organisations were represented at the event, which was also attended by some of the beneficiary families.
Ms Bogopane-Zulu hailed the role of the implementing partners as they are the ones that would package and deliver the parcels to beneficiaries in a manner that preserves their dignity.
Featured image: The deputy minister of Social Development, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, speaking at the launch of the King Salman Aid and Relief Centre’s project under the banner ‘Food assistance to support the people of South Africa’. (Photo SUPPLIED)