In over 50 countries, the non-profit humanitarian organization Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD) is at work supporting orphans, refugees and disaster victims, and building water wells to benefit entire communities.
Gul Siddiqi, a Muslim native of India and an Arizona resident for 20 years, directs the work of HHRD in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. While talking to managers of other organizations, she discovered that they attract volunteers through JustServe.org, a website provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Gul was soon trained to post projects on the site. She recalls, “I started getting a lot of volunteers. And when they came in, I realized that we [Muslims and Latter-day Saints] are so similar in the way we’re living our lives. We are doing exactly what you are doing with your children—trying to keep them on the straight path and teach them how to help each other.” She says of JustServe.org, “I love that website. I love the partnership. I have so many success stories.”
Adam Shaeffer of the Tempe South Stake is one of the youth volunteers Gul gratefully found through the site. Adam was looking for an Eagle Scout project when he noticed an HHRD posting. He then raised over $1,500 for the agency. He says, “I was surprised by how much money I raised because the main point of my project was to collect clothing and school supplies for refugees in Lebanon.” While gathering 70 boxes of items, he offered donors the option of giving money instead.
That money will help construct a water well in Africa. The enormous task involves training local people to manage it over the years.
Volunteers who like hands-on service are welcome to sort and pack donations at the agency’s Chandler facility. It’s great for families and date night!
To promote understanding and friendship between faiths, Interfaith Active Seniors Volunteering Day occurs the first Monday of every month from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm, ending with a meal.
Recently retired, Barbara Dudley of the Gilbert Val Vista Stake volunteers every week. She says, “I’m not ready for the rocking chair, and the people here are wonderful.”
For huge groups, HHRD can take materials offsite, as they did in March, 2018, for 150 youth volunteers of a Gilbert stake.
HHRD values collaboration and accountability. Agencies such as Feed My Starving Children often rely upon HHRD to distribute donations once they arrive at port because it has capable ground teams in so many countries.
The agency provides emergency food packages after earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as micro-homes built by engineers and qualified refugees, so fewer refugees must live in tents.
Through HHRD, donors currently support 17,200 orphans in 17 countries. A donation of $30 per month provides a child with food, education and periodic medical screenings. It allows them to participate in activities that develop character and leadership skills.
To learn about those 17 nations, come as a patron or a volunteer to the Global Village Festival. It’s a free event with exhibits, food, activities for all ages, and an international marketplace to raise funds for orphans, on Saturday, February 23rd, from 12:00 – 5:00 pm, at Arizona Cultural Academy at the I-10 and Baseline.