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Poverty took away my dignity, but NZF gave it back to me

Ali is an elderly Egyptian man who lives in the UK with his daughter and son-in-law. When they couldn’t afford to buy him clothes, they turned to the National Zakat Foundation for support.

Here’s how NZF made Ali feel like he’d regained his dignity.

Have you ever been to Egypt?

When you visit the ‘real’ Egypt – not the tourist areas or the resorts or the parts that have been tidied up for foreigners – you’ll notice how many poor people there are. Lots of them live on the streets and their clothes are all torn to pieces.

When I left Cairo and moved to the UK to live with my daughter and her husband, I never imagined I’d be like those homeless people I used to watch, with holes at the heels my socks and at the knees of my trousers; unable to buy myself new clothes.

I gave everything I had to my family: my health, my wealth, my strength, and all my energy. But now it’s just me, my daughter, and my son-in-law because my wife died a few years ago.

They’re doing their best to take care of me, but my son-in-law’s income isn’t enough to pay for everything we need.

My application to settle here in the UK was denied, so every bit of spare money he has goes towards the legal fees for my appeal.

When the financial strain became too much, my daughter decided to reach out and ask the National Zakat Foundation for support.

It didn’t feel like we were accepting charity

I’m glad my daughter contacted NZF without me knowing. If she’d asked me, my pride wouldn’t have let her, which is probably why she didn’t. I would’ve seen it as begging for money, which is something that I – a man who’s worked his entire life – couldn’t live with.

But when NZF agreed to help us, it didn’t feel like we were begging for money or accepting charity. It felt like they were an extended part of our family who were concerned and eager to support us.

NZF gave me vouchers so I could replace my worn-out clothes. I’m good at managing my money, so I was able to buy a whole load of trousers, shirts, socks, underwear and sweaters to keep me warm through winter.

My Programme Officer also spoke to my solicitor and helped us with my immigration application. Suddenly, I started to feel like there was some hope after all.

I have some dignity again

I’m still waiting to hear back about the appeal, but at least now I feel like I have some dignity again. I’m not wearing clothes that reveal my financial situation, and I don’t have to live with the guilt of making life harder for my son-in-law.

When NZF covered the cost of my clothes, they took a huge burden off his shoulders. I could see he felt ashamed every time he saw me, as if I was a walking embodiment of his poverty.

Without the added pressure of having to pay for my living expenses, we were able to focus all our energy on the appeal.

NZF saw that we just needed a helping hand as we crossed the finish line of a long and stressful journey. It’s hard having to beg this country to let me stay here when I know they don’t want me, so having the support of people who find happiness in helping an old man like me, who has nothing to give them in return, means the world.

Thank you to all the Muslims who give their Zakat through NZF and support other Muslims who are desperately in need.

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.

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