A few months back, just countable days before Ramadhan, my mum called me excitedly to show me a very moving story of a Pakistani woman in Tanzania being fundraised for. The project attracted so many donors around the globe that the fundraisers (a TV station) could buy a piece of land and build a house for her and her children (one of them is physically challenged). My mum’s first remark was, ‘Look! He does just like what you do! (fundraising projects)’.
‘Not for houses though!’ I laughed.
‘This is a TV station so they have a wider reach, but maybe one day you will do something like this too.’
‘Maybe…in shaa Allah.’
That became the beginning of our daily following of this exciting show and specifically, this Pakistani woman’s story. My mother would eagerly wait for the next episode so that we’d watch it together. To say it was inspiring is an understatement. Her life was changing COMPLETELY, and for the better; a true miracle was unfolding. As the building process went on, my mother would often reminisce about her younger years when she and my father were entrusted to do such projects to build mosques and wells and even houses alhamdulilah. Little did we know what lay ahead…
It was just a few days after Eidul Hajj when a friend whom I deeply admire for her dedication to her Qur’an memorization journey, reached out to me about their mud house that was gradually collapsing. All they were asking for was a loan so that they could restore their house. At the time, there were heavy rains all over Kilifi County and the imagination of how anyone could be living in such a condition truly broke my heart.
I mentioned the situation to someone I know who knows my friend’s neighbourhood, and was shocked! She asked, “You mean there are people living in that house?! I’ve always passed that same route to go to work and the house is in a very, very bad state. I never thought someone could even live in it!”
I felt helpless. And sad. And every time it rained outside my window, my heart ached a bit more. I had never done a project of this magnitude. Sometimes my projects take looong in such a demoralizing way. What if I start something, give them false hope then get stuck halfway? Still unsure of what to do, I decided to put up a post calling out to anyone or any organization to assist the family.
One of the first people to reach out to me was an ex-uni mate, and when he was asking for details about the house, I offered to give him my friend’s mum’s contact. He advised me then that it is best if I took the lead role in the project in order to efficiently manage the situation. I agreed, albeit reluctantly and decided to put up information for the opening of the fundraising. Before I even did that, someone from Twitter responded to my initial post and sent 100k. I was stunned. How?! A total stranger who didn’t even put me through an extended ‘interrogation’ as most donors do (I know I know, the world is full of scammers lol) So people can trust me with this? I got an immediate motivation boost subhanallah.
Right away, I called an architect/contractor to make a sketch of a new brick house. At the time, I knew a brick house would be way more expensive but I was unstoppable 😀 The contractor came the same evening and showed me the cost of just a few materials. It was around 300k. I said, ‘We can do this!’ He said, ‘There is still a lot more. It could get to double.’
‘Yeah, but I believe Allah will bring a way. Let’s tawakkal.’
‘My concern is that we don’t know how the fundraising could go. We could demolish the house and start building but then get stuck, leaving the family stranded.’
Excitedly, I said, ‘Yeah I understand but let’s just start. I believe when people start seeing the work taking place, more donors will appear. They’ll be motivated to finish it.’
Both my parents were seated with me at the time and they both interjected, ‘Kujenga si mchezo (Construction is not that simple)…’ My dad said.
‘Huyu she’s just excited at the moment,’ my mum joined, ‘but let us see. Perhaps the donors will come through when we start the process.’
We wrapped up the brief sitting with the plan to start the demolishing of the house soonest. At the time, another good lady and friend, Dr Kulthum, had collected donations for the family that had totalled 48,980/= alhamdulilah. (May Allah bless her with goodness in both worlds!)
And so it began. The fundraising. The shifting of the family to a rental. The house demolishing and the construction thereafter. The money coming in. Offers to help from every corner.
Whenever I talked to my friend’s family, I would tell them, ‘So I think this is only what we can do for now.’ But Subhanallah, money kept coming in and coming in. Friends. Family. Mutual friends. Total strangers. Long-term donors from previous projects.
Every few days I’d tell them, ‘Okay I think you can move into your house after two days’ or ‘Just this one thing remaining and we’ll be done with this project’, ‘We don’t have money to do this right now, maybe you can save for it in the future’ and someone would send me money out of nowhere. In the early stages of the fundraising, there was a short period where the donations slowed down a bit, but subhanallah, once we picked up the pace again, we were unstoppable. At some point, I stopped asking for donations anymore because I didn’t even have to ask. There were three individuals who were very keen on the project and let me know repeatedly that I shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to them in case anything was needed. Three total strangers. Three angels from Allah. Two of them ended up donating over 200k (one of whom was the one who sent the first 100k), and one close to 200k. Then two sisters joined in, sending me money from their family and friends group from time to time also getting to 200k (or over, I can’t even remember anymore 😀 ) Then Artistic Hope Organization offered to do some of the work (Plastering the whole house, plumbing and electrical). Best of all were our consistent donors who despite giving smaller amounts, kept giving and giving from what Allah blessed them with, alhamdulilah!
And I kept thinking Subhanallah, Allah is showing us again and again, ‘Who are you to determine what is enough?’ And I told this to my mum and said, ‘Perhaps our vision is so low compared to what Allah wants to give them. We just want them to have a house, but perhaps Allah wants to give them a dream house. Perhaps they have a secret with Allah or perhaps they have been patient for so long that Allah is finally giving the long-awaited relief.’’
And so we kept making changes to our initial plan because we had to consider what can we do better for them (since there was more money). It wasn’t easy of course and the construction team was inconvenienced quite a few times, but alhamdulilah for their patience and dedication.
During the finishing stages, when only about three fundis were still working on site doing the ceiling, I sat with my friend at the front stairs of the newly built house feeling the cool breeze from the ocean.
“I need you to tell me the secret…”
“Which secret?” She laughed.
“Which secret do you have with Allah? Because I’ve NEVER done a fundraising like this, and I’ve been doing fundraisings for almost a decade now. Never …Subhanallah. This is the FIRST TIME EVER that I don’t literally have to beg people to donate. You have seen it yourself! And now, people are racing to help your family mashallah Allah ybarik. What’s the story? Or what dua have you been making so we copy your method?” I laughed.
‘“Aren’t you the one who tells us to have secrets with Allah?” She chuckled, referring to the nasheed I love and frequently share by Mishary Al Afasy (Do you have secrets with Allah).
“Hahaha, okay but this secret you have to tell me. There must be a story behind it; a story that I and everyone who’s donated can benefit from. Because wallahy, this, for me, is a miracle. I’ve never seen this Subhanallah.”
With tears in her eyes, she said Alhamdulilah. Then went on to say, ‘It’s been dua, a lot of dua…’ Then started narrating their story to me.
Around 6 years back, my friend and her family lived on the outskirts of Mombasa town. However, their mother got divorced and because she was a simple housewife, she was unable to sustain the town life. She decided to come back to her father’s home in the remote areas of Kilifi. For them, it was a huge and TOUGH adjustment. From town life, they now moved to an old mud house. No electricity. No water. The bathroom is outside. The bushes became the toilet. As a jilbabi and niqabi, you can imagine the struggle of taking a bath in a space that is only covered with mabati and leso; almost an exposed space (especially since the mabati had holes only covered with nylon). They would share a bed that didn’t even have a mattress.
“I would walk 45 minutes to the stage every morning to go to university and another 45 every evening. It got so tiring, I started living with a relative in Mombasa. But she was verbally aggressive. And I would be patient until when I’d feel my heart is too tired I can’t take it anymore, is when I would come back to Kilifi and continue commuting daily. Then when I’d get tired of commuting I’d go back to my relative…like that…”
This was a family that was once at the upper middle class- with water in the house, electricity and stability of a home. Their life turned upside down. But their patience was yet to be tested even more.
With each heavy rain, the mud house developed more and more cracks. At the same time, the neighbourhood was gaining some development. Slowly, the neighbours around started building brick houses in place of their mud houses one by one. Then when the government launched the token metres, homes got the token devices for free. So soon enough, the neighbourhood was bright with lights. Except this one house. Because of its dire state, and despite having the token metre, it was a risk for them to connect electricity since the house was clearly collapsing. Eventually, KPLC uninstalled the service line just for the safety of the family.
The neighbours started making fun of them and their house. When my friend would go to the shop she’d hear people joke, ‘Waschana warembo lakini nyumba ya kuanguka’. When their youngest brother would come home from school, his schoolmates would laugh loudly, calling out his name, pointing at the collapsing house and saying, ‘Hii ndio nyumba yenu!’ They were all so humiliated, so ashamed that they’d avoid going to the shops or even outside except when necessary.
Now the neighbours, who were now of a better living standard, used to gather in the evening. The women around would lay down their mikeka to chit chat (spell ‘gossip’) and because my friend and her mother were against such behaviour and wouldn’t join them, they became even more secluded. The neighbours barely ever had a good word for them, instead, they were the ones mocking and humiliating them at every opportunity. And as known in Swahili culture, they would ‘walisha vijembe’ by blasting out taarab music with insults, clearly directed at them.
“Si siri wajulikana wewe
Hauna sifa za kike wewe
Una nongwa we jeuri wewe
Mambo nare nare
Niko nae mimi sare
Usilete hare hare
Utakuja kufa bure….
Nnavokujua sio mwanamke wewe
Unajitwaza si mwanamke wewe
Unachechemesha si mwanamke wewe
Umejiangusha cheo kujishusha
Sasa unapasha mpasha upashike
Wakati wa mwengine huu
Si wakati wako huu
Wakati wa mwengine huu
Si wakati wako huu
Mambo nare nare du
Umewekwa kando du
Unachekwa sasa du
Unachekwa sasa du…”
At the time, it was raining heavily outside, the house is leaking all over…mother and daughter are hiding in their collapsing house; humiliated and heartbroken; calling out to Allah…during the best ten days of Dhulhijjah. Crying to Him out of helplessness and pain.
“I always wanted to be the one to build this house for my mother,” my friend said. “I had a part-time job and was trying to save slowly so that we could renovate the house. But life was so tough, especially as the firstborn..it was always hand to mouth. Then corona happened and I lost my job. That dream faded. I felt so helpless. So I returned to Allah and begged Him that I cannot do this myself, only He can…and I prayed that He brings me a halal and kheyr means for this house to be built. I prayed so much during Arafah as well. But since we came here, we’ve always been praying for relief. Then I contacted you after Eid asking for help and what happened happened…”
Goosebumps. Literal goosebumps. Tears in her eyes. Tears in my eyes as I write this. Subhanallah. Subhanallah. Look at Allah’s Power. His kindness. His mercy. How He can change one’s condition JUST.LIKE.THAT!!! How He responds to duas. How He rewards for patience. How He hears how others are mistreating you and will grant you comfort. Indeed, with hardship comes ease, ALLAHU AKBAR!
Now, from the very beginning of the project, we really desired that the family gets electricity in the house. However, we kept getting obstacles until finally, we opted for M-solar (lipa mdogo mdogo solar program) alhamdulilah.
So on Thursday evening, the family officially moved into their house. And as they were settling in, there happened a blackout in the entire town. Literally! There was darkness at every corner of the town except ONE HOUSE. Only this one house that was always being mocked. Only this one house that was always looked down upon. Only this one house that was once the symbol of extreme poverty. Subhanallah! And so while the whole town drowned in darkness, Allah illuminated His light on just this one house. Coincidence? Could never be! Here was Allah, showing the people His Might and Power to change circumstances. A moral lesson they’ll never forget!
And all this is clear proof that Allah’s promise is true when He said: “Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirun (the patient).” [al-Anfal 8:46]
And again: “If anything good happens to you they are grieved; if any misfortune befalls you they rejoice at it. But if you remain steadfast and mindful of Allah their designs will not cause you harm. Allah surely encompasses all that they do.” [Al ‘Imran 3:120]
Now standing very tall, is the only fully-plastered, painted house with solar power in the neighbourhood, Allah ybarik!
This is our good Lord. ALLAHU AKBAR!
Here’s what it’s all about:
A believer’s patience.
The power of dua.
The reward of patience.
The power of Allah.
The justice of Allah.
The miracle of Allah.
The miracle house!
“And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will make a way out for them, and provide for them from sources they could never imagine. And whoever puts their trust in Allah, then He ˹alone˺ is sufficient for them. Certainly Allah achieves His Will. Allah has already set a destiny for everything.”[At-Talaq: 2-3]
Sincere gratitude to EACH AND EVERY ONE of you for being part of this amazing project. Regardless of what amount you donated or whether you shared the posts only, YOU DID THIS! You raised KSHS 1, 018, 093.50. YOU BUILT THIS HOUSE! In just a matter of 41 days, we managed to raise money AND build a 4-bedroom house with a separate bathroom, toilet and kitchen. ALLAHU AKBAR! May Allah bless you and your families with lofty gardens and palaces in Jannat ul Firdaus, ameen!
Special thanks to both our contractor and his construction team and the Artistic Hope Organization team for the amazing work they did to the house. And for their patience throughout the challenges. May Allah bless the work of your hands and raise your status in Jannah.
And to my dearest family and closest friends who gave me so much support, both physically and emotionally throughout this project(my biggest one yet!) and for being patient with me when I was crying or getting very irritable at every small inconvenience 😀 Alhamdulilah thumma alhamdulilah.
When I posted the last video update showing the house, I showed it to my parents first. Both of them cried, and they kept replaying the video over and over and over, tears still streaming from their eyes. I wish y’all could have seen how my mother was now excitedly waiting for my daily updates on the construction project more than she was when we were watching that program. But better than all that is that this entire project was mainly under their guidance, alhamdulilah!!
Just a few days before the completion of the project, as I was laying down in bed looking at the house standing, my mother patted my hair and said, “Finally you’ve come into our line (of projects). You’re truly my daughter.” Urgh. My heart. For them to have witnessed and actively guided and supported me throughout this project is a full circle for me. Alhamdulilah! May Allah grant us all sincerity in what we do Ya Rab!
My only request is that when you see any goodness in my very flawed being, please make dua for my 3 parents (one is deceased, Allah yirhamha) to be granted good health and wellness both in this life and the next, and that they enter Jannatul Firdaus without hisab, for they have been my inspiration always and my biggest supporters alhamdulilah!