For 28 years, I’ve been a market trader. My stall is my livelihood; it’s how I take care of my wife and my children. And it’s hard work – the lifting, the standing around, the cold – but I love it.
My wife stays home and raises our children. She does the cooking, the feeding, the washing, the clothing, and the nurturing. My only job is to bring home the money – and I always did… until I didn’t.
In 2008, the recession hit. Within months, my business was going under and I was losing money by the day. But the bills kept coming in: food, rent, income tax, council tax, water, energy, phone bills, school dinners, and school uniforms.
I needed help, so I asked a friend for a loan to tide me over. I promised to pay him back as soon as possible, but his money was quickly eaten up by more bills. So, I had to ask another friend, and then another. When my friends stopped giving me money, I had to turn to my family and admit just how bad my financial situation was.
Slowly but surely, my family stopped giving me money too because they realised I couldn’t pay it back, even though I had every intention to.
When they stopped helping, I turned to payday lenders. That was the worst thing I could’ve done. The interest alone was impossible to pay off, and every month, I fell deeper and deeper into debt.
I didn’t want to ask National Zakat Foundation for help, but by this point, I had no choice. I was borrowing more and more money to save us from being evicted, and I was spiralling. Sometimes, it felt like my only escape was death.
My NZF Caseworker was kind and caring as I explained my situation. We went through my finances together, and I showed her the extent of my debt.
Within days, NZF agreed to pay my overdue utility bills, rent, and they even agreed to help clear a huge amount of the debt.
I’d wanted a fresh start for so long, and NZF gave that to me. They believed in me, they invested in me, and they trusted I wouldn’t make the same mistakes again.
But their support didn’t end there. They put me in touch with financial experts who helped me manage my money better. We found ways to cut back on my expenses, and we made a payment plan to pay off the remaining debt.
NZF didn’t just save the day and then abandon me. They saved the day and then made sure I’d never be in that same situation again.
Years later, I’m still mending the relationships I destroyed. I lost a lot of friends, and a lot of people gave up on me, which is why it’s so comforting to know that Zakat payers – Muslims who don’t even know me – saved me, my home, my family, my reputation, and my livelihood.
Today, I’m almost completely out of debt, and I have everything I need to turn my life back around. I have faith that my business will be healthy again soon, and when that day comes, my Zakat will go to NZF so I can give back to the community and invest in someone who just needs a second chance. Like I did.
The National Zakat Foundation uses Zakat to support individuals in a transformative way, so they can be self-sufficient. Stay up-to-date with all our latest insights, stories, research and news – subscribe here for our monthly newsletter.
National Zakat Hotline: 03333 123 123 (Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm, local rates) or apply online apply.nzf.org.uk
This post is based on a true story.