How to begin a blog post summarising an experience that lasted over a month and had literal blood, sweat, tears, all nighters and message ringtone dancing. Yes people the descent of out madness stoops to all new lows. But I tell you that tune was catchy! The GPU (Global peace and unity) is an event in the excel centre exhibiting Islamic culture from the arts, media, textiles, books, Islamic knowledge/information, discussions and tasty treats from all over the world. My involvement came in as a young creative to co-design stalls for two charities, Ulfa Aid and Interpal. Ulfa Aid is a small up and coming charity based in North West London. Founded by Sheikh Ahmed Babikir and managed by Zara Dada, it deals with sectors such as building homes for the homeless. Prefabricated structures, for disaster stricken areas and other housing developments such as orphanages and local community homes. Its other sectors involve feeding the homeless in the U.K (soup kitchen) and abroad, the charity shop, Radio Haqq a local community Internet radio show, emergency appeals and hospital visits. And many other inspiring projects that they have covered over the years such as mountain walks up mount Snowdon and Ben Nevis. The other charity Interpal a popular UK based charity for Palestinians covers sector such as Aid, food supplies, clean water projects & Qurbani and many more. Myself and a team of a few friends conjured up and decided to take on the task, as young creative’s to build the stalls for the GPU. Our team being the lovely Nadia Dada, Zara Dada, Safiya Ahmad and Isa Sulaiman. Our backgrounds being varied in the arts and humanities fields. Covering different scopes, backgrounds and artistic influences. The two charity stalls both had different floor plans to adhere to for the design. Interpals being 5 metres x 5 metres and Ulfa Aids space being 3 metres x 2 metres for the stall. The idea was to utilise the spaces and design something unique and visually appealing then your average stall at another convention, with office style partition walls. Over the next month we met initially over tea and cake and visually mapped out what we envisaged and what each stall would try to represent and portray. Ulfa Aid is a fairly new charity and has only been running for a few years, and being its first time at the GPU, the idea was to demonstrate what Ulfa is all about, its sectors, and how people could get involved and help. Where as with Interpal due to its well-known name identifying its sectors and its focus was not necessary so we went for the more subtle approach. We decided on a dreamier mural, illustrating hope for the Palestinians, due to the blockade and humanitarian crisis on the west strip. Our thought was around the basis of hope for the people, growth, development, flight, perseverance and peace.
Above is our initial 3D modeling of the two spaces, prior to designing. With our 3D rendering and dimensions we were able to head down to a local wood supplier, buy our timber and plywood boards to begin construction.
Looking back construction was probably the longest thing due to not working in a full-equipped workshop. But despite all this and a couple more visits to our local wood manufacturers for even more nails we under-estimated, we were ready to paint our hearts out and happy to get to that stage after we fully completed the construction. Painting was a really exciting stage and a pinnacle moment after weeks of heavy lifting, drilling, sawing. The group all found the painting to be very therapeutic and the period that triggered the most excitement. We ran out of time to get to the stage we aspired to achieve with Interpals stall, due to having to rush to the excel centre and actually deliver and install the walls at the Docklands site. After its was tucked away nicely in our North West London base for about 3 weeks. Nevertheless after all the long hours and hard work we actually were really proud of ourselves and what we managed to achieve in such a small amount of time, realising when you put your mind to anything for a good cause you can achieve it, if your intention is right. The aim was to stand out raise awareness for the charities and to be visually aesthetic to people walking by. If it caught people’s eyes, making them turn around, pick up a leaflet and listen to the great works these two charities produce day in and day out. Then it was really worth it for the sake of those who life’s we can never fully comprehend and whom we strive to help through this fantastic experience we were lucky to have received.
Construction and design of boards
Ulfa Aids stall and volunteers during the day.
By Aminah Babikir
My friend Zara D and myself have been presenting a weekly radio show during the month of Ramadan on a local North London based station called Hacc (truth) radio on 96.2fm or alternatively streamed from the internet at www.haccfoundation.co.uk. A weekly Saturday based show aired at 10am-1pm, where we were discussing different subjects aimed at the Muslim youth and young adults, dealing with the pressures of today. Keeping the daily balance between work & spirituality and other issues. We completed our month of discussions, filled with topical debates, entertaining phone calls, weekly quizzes and weekly words of wisdom. Not to mention also importantly addressing pressing issues for the youth based all over the U.K, exam stresses, dealing with anger, career building and networking. I could go on and on about the show’s and the tales we had, but to sum it all up it was a truly fantastic opportunity and we thank everyone who listened/called/texted in and supported us. Last friday the 17th of september we had a big finale with the whole radio station/guests organising a fundraising night, for the devastating floods in Pakistan. With over 400 guests, it was a fun packed evening, with singers, various artists and speakers. My contribution of the night was not talking thankfully. Myself and my friend Safiya a fellow radio presenter and fellow cohort, volunteered our artistic skills to produce a few pieces towards the flood collection. I some how managed to create three oil canvases, two pieces in Arabic calligraphy and another in Persian. Safiya too had a fair amount of stunning photography beautifully framed she had taken on her travels all over the world.
I can gladly tell you all, all our pieces sold at fantastic prices, exceeding our expectations, this was no doubt due to the amazing effort of our highly loveable and charismatic auctioneer Sheikh Ahmed Tijani a famous Chicago based singer, who really had the crowd going. Well done to everyone at Radio Hacc who contributed and the sensational amount that was raised for charity throughout the evening.
By Aminah Babikir