An interview with the Director General of Direct Aid

An interview with the Director General of Direct Aid

Direct aid performs its work through specific strategy and clear vision that aim at fighting the  poverty , ignorance and disease.  Using all its capabilities and available means, Direct Aid strives for building a new generation of  African youth who build and  improve their homeland to be self –  independent and get rid of relaying on the foreign aid gradually.

In this meeting, Dr. Abdullah Al Sumit, general manager of Direct Aid, opens a new horizons to be familiar with the future vision of Direct Aid which strives for achieving its strategy toward fighting the ignorance, poverty and disease and developing the African communities.

Dr. Abdullah Al Sumit, before holding his position as general manager of Direct Aid, is a son of  Kuwaiti chartable leader and founder of  Direct Aid, Dr. Abdulrahman Al Sumit – May Allah  Bless Him-  and  his pupil whom he accompanied sine he was very young in many of his civil travels and  journeys throughout the African content. So,  Dr. Abdullah Al Sumit was an eye witness on the tragedy and suffering of the African peoples , the matter let him  feel kindly and sympathy toward the poor. He has witnessed the development of Direct Aid and the expansion of its range work. Accordingly, He started to be involved in the chartable and institutional work through Direct Aid, as he undertook the subversion on large range of its activities in many African countries before Dr. Abdulrahman Al Sumit passed away – May Allah Bless Him. Therefore, his talents and experiences expanded.

Welcome Dr. Abdullah

At the beginning,  can you give us brief summary about the strategic vision of Direct Aid and its achievements  over 35 years of continuous work in Africa to achieve this vision?
Our work in Africa is distinguished as a direct civil work that view, analyze and deal with the facts on the land. So, if the tragic life of the African communities is considered as a result of the human destruction triangle (ignorance, poverty and disease),   we have built our  strategic on hope – in – life triangle (  education , work and health) . Based on this comprehensive vision, all the works and activities of Direct Aid lunched over more than 35 years of giving.  To this effect, we  have provided our training and educational services to get rid of ignorance and graduate new generation of  youth who are able to lead their countries in the way of renaissance , progress and  liberation from depending on the foreign aids. We have provided job opportunities through the societal development programs with the aim of increasing the poor families’ income. We have also provided our comprehensive medical services through building and managing the hospitals and clinics and move the specialized medical campaigns and camps to fight the diseases and help the poor bear the expenses of medicine. We also expanded the process of digging the  wells and supply the potable water network to the clean water – prevented areas to fight the water shortage and the phenomenon of desertification spread in many African countries with the aim of fighting the diseases resulting from using the polluted water and the phenomenon  preventing the children from going to school to be free for bringing water from the remote places.

The development of educational process comes on the top of Direct Aid’s priorities since it was  established by Dr. Abdullah Al Sumit – May Allah Bless Him, who used to say” Education, based on our experience, is the ideal means to motivate the biggest number our Muslim sons to hold senior positions and, therefore, the Muslim communities can take part in building their homeland more fairly.”

Actually, Direct Aid has taken wide steps on the way of providing distinctive educational services and  rose the slogan” education is legal right for every child in Africa”. Therefore, it has expanded in building the schools, universities and professional training institutes. At the end of 2015, the schools built by Direct Aid estimated at 252 school managed by Direct Aid directly or in cooperation with Ministry of Education in African countries where more than 58 thousand student study currently.

Through such schools where we interested in keeping the quality of education before increasing the number of teachers, more than half million male and female students graduated. Many of those students completed their academic education whether through the academic curricula provided by Direct Aid or that they got from other educational entities, sine Direct Aid provides every year more than 2000 scholarships for the poor students over the different education grades and post – graduate – studies in the most important scientific specializations.

In the field of  professional qualification and training, Direct Aid  conducts studies on the needs of African job markets and trains the youth to gain the experiences required for getting an appropriate job opportunity that provides them with honorable life. To this effect, more than 1000  person of the poor and orphans graduate every year after mastering many handcrafts such as smithery , carpentry, construction , repairing cards and electricity  , computer, sewing , cloths coloration , cooking and housekeeping.

Direct Aid also provides job opportunities for the youth, orphans, widows and many poor families through providing feasibilities for the small –scale projects and granting the facilitated loans to carry them out to help them maintain themselves and secure their basic needs.

The beneficiaries of Direct Aid’s  various development projects ( agriculture – education – animals – facilitated loans for productive projects  – providing the seeds for the poor farmers ( bank of the poor)  – professional training) were estimated at 125150 beneficiary until the end of 2015.

In the field of health  and fighting diseases , we have established many  medical hospitals and clinics estimated at 285  clinic, out of which 10 clinics are established newly 2015 to provide  free medical services to the needy. We also have many annual medical and surgical camps, medical convoys and circumcision campaigns that aim at fighting many diseases through which it conducts the free surgical operations for the poor. Regularly, we move many vaccination campaigns that aim at limiting the spread of epidemic diseases , in addition to Direct Aid annual camps in the framework of supporting the ant – blindness and cataract project in cooperation with Al Basar International Foundation where free surgical operations are conducted for the poor and medical glasses and medicine are distributed on them.

What is the volume and activities of Direct Aid in African content?  What are the most important charitable projects proposed on your agenda that you  put on the top of your priorities  currently?
Direct Aid is considered as a references for  Kuwaiti chartiable work in the African content. This didn’t occur accidently, however it was achieved, thanks to Allah, due to the sincere efforts exerted by the founder of Direct Aid, Dr. Abdulrahman Al Sumit, may Allah bless him,  , his noble fellows and all those involving in Direct Aid in both Kuwait and civil offices spread nearly in 33  African country, in addition to Yemen office . Now, Direct Aid, thanks to Allah,  provides its services in all the chartable and humanitarian fields and its projects are varied to include all the  rescue, education, development, health and Islamic call as well as the  construction projects. The projects and programs carried out by Direct Aid throughout the last year 2015 are estimated at 21.543 project and program with total expenditure estimated at € 100.000.00

Direct Aid, in the current phase, pays attention to many strategic projects that achieve Direct Aid’s objectives in developing the African communities and have great effect on  improving the  living standard of people, providing them with honorable life on the long term.

Direct Aid, in the current phase, seeks to achieve that matter through three kinds of the large –scale strategic projects : higher education projects,   large –scale water projects , societal development projects.

At the level of higher education projects, we have established until now 3 universities  in both Kenai,  zanziba and Somalia where more than 5290 male and female students study.   In these universities, we have interested in providing the specializations required actually be job market.

Direct Aid, currently, works on implementing the second phase of Umma University in Kenai  with cost estimated at KD 4 Million ( nearly € 11 Million) with an area exceeding 20 thousand square meter , including the construction of  facilities.

Umma University is considered as the first recognized Islamic university that’s established and financed by Arab Charitable Foundation in Kenai. Dr. Abdulrahman Al Sumit , may Allah Bless Him, has put its cornerstone in 1996  when he established Thika Faculty of Islamic Law  that has been changed later to ” Umma University”  to include now three faculties: Islamic Studies, Islamic Law and Economy. Students from Kenai, Tanzania, Burundi, Rhonda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda and South Sudan study in that university.

we inaugurated  the new building of University in  2014  in the district ” Kigiado” in Kenai  which included lectures halls and housing for employees and other for students  and administrative  building, in addition to large  bookstore with capacity of 500 student and 10 thousand scientific book and reference in both Arabic and English language.

At the level of large scale  – water projects,  Direct Aid has started in carrying out its  huge project ” Yanbiei Al Hayat”  ( Life Springs)  which aims at supply potable water to the places prevented from it . This project is consistent with Direct Aid’s strategy  in fighting poverty through providing water to reclaim the agricultural lands and animal drinking, fighting ignorance through allocating the students only for study instead of bringing water from the remote wells and fighting diseases  by providing the clean  potable water.

We have started the implementation of the project in Niger by digging 100 deep well equipped with energy generator, tank and extensions to supply water to the  clean water – prevented villages during. 3 years.

Direct Aid seeks to achieve benefit for half million people, in addition to the same number of animals through the animal drinking as well as providing water to reclaim lands.

The cost  per  well  is estimated at KD 3500 . This project as available for the noble donators  to contribute based on their capability.

Niger has been chosen as the first country where   the ” Life Springs” project is carried out due to the severe shortage in the potable water as well as the spread of epidemic diseases due to drinking the polluted water as it is estimated that one child among each 5 children died before reaching the age of 5.  60% of the children in the education age are prevented from study due to allocating them for bringing water from the remote wells and 50 % of the hospitals’ visitors in Niger are suffering diseases relating to drinking the polluted water. Only 7% of Niger populations have sewerage  projects.

In the future, we are ambitious to repeat the same project  in other 5 countries suffering from the draught and shortage in water resources.
As for the society development, Direct Aid has old and extended contributions in all the countries where it has offices, however we have started lately to adopt a qualtive project in this field called ( Aid To You);   one of the society development projects which approve the principle of very small finance, as we provide the loan services to the sponsoring women with the aim of cultivating the culture of work and  the principle of self – dependence and providing work jobs for the women in the society to limit the poverty , empower woman socially and economically and support her role in the family and society.

we have started by earlier 2015  with our  Civil Office in Tunisia to carry out the project which achieved great success and wide praise. In this  year, we started to expand the adoption of the project through working with both Mauritania and Sudan.

How does Direct Aid work to spread Islamic call  in Africa?  Is there discrimination in  providing its humanitarian services to  among Muslims and Non – Muslims of  other religions spread in Africa?

Direct Aid is based mainly on providing service to the African man, regardless his / her religion, ethnic affiliation or political orientation. our main objective is to develop  and improve the African communities and create  human cadres undertaking the management of its natural resources and get rid depending on the foreign aids gradually. Therefore, we don’t differentiate in providing our services between Muslim and Non – Muslim. However, on the contrary,  providing services to the Non – Muslims is considered as an essence of our mission and one of our most important means to identify the Islamic call in accordance with the  Holy Qur’an and the traditions of our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). There are many examples for the success of  means in spreading the Islamic call in this tolerant way are countless . It is a sufficient evidence that many of the other  religions have converted to Islam  due to the efforts exerted by the founder of Direct Aid, Dr. Abdulrahman Al Sumit and our Islamic callers and Imams of our  mosques who are spread in more than 30 African states due to the tolerance of Islam  and non – discrimination between Muslim and Non – Muslim .  If we, for example, have distributed the in-kind aids on one of the inflicted villages due to any natural crisis, provided medical services to fight the spread of specific disease or established a surgical camp to cure the patients, our services are provided to both Muslim and Non – Muslim. Many of the beneficiaries from these services come to our offices lately to declare their conversion to Islam on the hand of our Islamic callers without exercising any pressure or any practices whatever as many western organization working in Africa do.

However, tens of thousands of non – Muslims declare their  conversion to Islam annually when they are touched by any of our seasonal projects such as  Breakfast for Fasting People and distributing the meat of the sacrifice on them, etc.

This in addition to the direct supervision on providing the social, educational, cultural and health care for the orphans who are  maintained by Direct Aid and estimated, until 2015 , to 20245  male and female orphans, out of them 6903 internal orphan living in centers managed by Direct Aid  which number exceeding 100 center while the others live with wither relative  and they are followed up regularly by the supervising team  allocated for this task. Such  supervising team also carry out specialized programs to deal with those orphans and bringing them up on the  good moral, teaching them the principles of tolerant religion.

Direct Aid has maintained, since its establishment, more than 65,000 orphan, most of them  – thanks to Allah, graduated from our school and completed their  higher education through scholarships provided to them by Direct Aid. Then , they held noble positions in their countries. Thus, they have become good ambassadors and caller for Islam through their morals, actions and services to their fellows.

In his statement,  the well known business man, Bill Gates has praised the efforts exerted by Dr. Abdulrahman Al Sumit – May Allah Bless Him, and the works done by Direct Aid  as saying”  What’s done by  Al Sumit in Africa embodies the traditions of Kuwait in generosity and taking care of the people when necessary”, adding that ” he will  be one of the supervisors on the prize of Abdulrahman Al Sumit for African Development …. how do you view this matter and how do you evaluate the reality of the Kuwaiti charitable work and its presence in the international ceremonies?

First of all, Kuwaiti charitable work occupies a noble status at both regional and international level. Kuwait, in particular, has great fingerprints and efforts in this field. Kuwaiti people is also known, since the earliest, for loving good and giving, the matter which  is  clearly reflected in calling Kuwait recently as an ” international humanitarian center”  while its  Emir, May  Allah Bless Him,  was titled as the leader of Humanitarian charitable work by the United Nation Organization.

As for the Direct Aid, it is a member in Consultant, Economic and Social Council affiliating to United Nation and it is of diplomatic nature in many African countries. It also organizes and takes part effectively in many international conferences concerned with the chartable and humanitarian work.   Direct Aid, lately, based on invitation from Bil & Miland  Gets Charitable Foundation, has taken part in  Senior Donators Conference in London on the reasons behind the death of children in Africa and south of Asia through the next fifteen years . Dr. Abdulrahman Al Mohilan, chairman of Direct Aid,  talked about the efforts exerted by Direct Aid  within 30 years of Direct Aid’s course of work in  Africa  and about the great achievements  occurred in the fields of social development  through supplying potable water, building schools and universities and assisting in the small – scale  projects for the poor families and other activities that contributed to the actual development in those communities, the matter which limiting the ratios of early death for the children in Africa through the  last ten years.

The mass media plays important role in keeping the people familiar with the activities and providing the support for them, how the Direct Aid deals with the modern mass media and social websites?  and what are the results  consequently achieved to support its works and attract wide classes from the society, including the followers of such mass media?.

Direct Aid, since its establishment, has paid special attention to direct communication with the noble public whether in the state of Kuwait or gulf countries and dealing with them transparently that let it gain, overtime, credibility and confidence in its works. Due to the development of the public communication in the latest years, the Direct Aid interested in copying with these developments and using the modern technology means . So, it has created its website in both Arabic and English language. Through its website, it has provided easy front for electronic donation. This website is also fully consistent with the smart instruments. Actually , it is an effective media podium for communication with the public  that support and like the charitable work , since those access that website in 2015 exceed one million and half throughout the world. Such website has got the first rank in the prize of Sheikh Salem Al Ali for information in its fifteenth circle on category of civil society foundations. It also wined the second rank in 2012 in Kuwait Electronic Prize with regard to the electronic content field. Such media presence and effective social communication of Direct Aid has been reflected positively, thanks to Allah, on the volume of the donations for charitable works carried out by Direct Aid, sine the donations increased  during the holy month of Ramadan of this year compared with the same period of the last year with ratio 29%. The number of donators during the last holy month of Ramadan also increased with ratio 3% compared with the number of donators in the holy month of Ramadan before the last.  Also 90 % of the donators  use their smart instruments to donate through the website.

The strong presence of Direct Aid at the level of social communication is more evidenced by its last campaign conducted in Day of Arafah  in cooperation with Electronic q8ping where it has collected, thanks to Allah, donations exceeding KD 760 thousand in less than 12 hours.

In a related  context, how do evaluate the campaign conducted by Direct Aid concerning pilgrimage and Sacrifices?

Sponsoring the pilgrims and implementing the sacrifices projects are seasonal projects started with the early beginning of Direct Aid. In the state of Kuwait, Direct Aid is considered as pioneer in both projects. It is distinguished in carrying them out, as it undertakes the implementation of sacrifice project by itself in all its stages though its civil offices and doesn’t assign them to local societies as many other foundations do. Therefore,  we ensure – Thanks to Allah – getting the best prices in each country and we investigate to deliver these sacrifices to the most needy areas. The sacrifice also has great effect on the spread of Islamic call throughout Africa, as our civil offices provide files of many noble and effective figures in their communities,  whether  leaders of tribes or Islamic callers, Sheikhs and others who have a respected word and their worship are sincere as the jurisprudents  say.

The sacrifice campaign this year- thanks to Allah and due to the interaction of the good – doers – was a successful campaign in all standards and achieved the targeted  results. This year, Direct Aid has dispatched 160  pilgrims,  out of them 40  pilgrim on the expense of His Highness Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah – May Bless  Him – , that is  an Emiri generosity continued since the era of Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al  Sabah, May Allah Bless Him.  Direct Aid has also distributed 34000 sacrifice on nearly  Million and twenty thousand of the poor and widows with special needs in 31 country.

What are the hinders and difficulties that you face in your civil work socially and  politically?

Each work has  difficulties, especially if it is in the size of Direct Aid and on the geographical area as it moves in more than 30 African countries , the variety of its civil offices in each country and the expansion of its country.  However, Direct Aid, thanks to Allah  and since the days of Abdulrahman Al Sumit, has set a plan for itself, including  specified work  methodology far from the areas of disagreement, reasons of conflict and non – intervention in the political matters of countries and individuals. Therefore, Direct Aid  has gained the satisfaction of African communities  and political systems  wherever they are  because we provide our services to the African people without any motives, except the ties of human fellowship, even when Direct Aid intervene to provide aids to those inflicted due to the wars and political conflicts , it provides such services from human perspective, standing neutral toward all parties.

Dr. Abdulrahman Al Sumit- May Allah Bless Him, is considered as the  icon of Kuwaiti Charitable work and one  of its pioneers…. What is the effect that he left on his family and  children?  an have the works of Direct Aid been affected due to his death?

Our Father ,May Allah Bless Him, used to take us while we were  young in his journeys to Africa with the mother, Om Suheeb, May Allah Prolong his life!.  Our relatives used to travel with their children in the Summer vacation to the coasts of Europe and we used to travel with them to Arica, so they cultivated such feeling within us and we were brought up on  feeling kind toward the poor and looking for their needs.

As for Direct Aid, He – May  Allah Bless Him, built a strong institutional entity that  doesn’t  depend on a person, however it is a collective work where the roles are distributed and specialties varied, the matter which let Direct Aid, after the death of Dr. Abdulrahman Al Sumit, gain confidence and credibility. Although the mental image of the public about Direct Aid has closely linked to the  character of Dr. Al Sumit and his continues journeys to Africa, his media presence,  his credibility and the people confidence in him,  the work, after his death, has continued on the same course. So, Direct Aid has adopted the modern management techniques and attracted distinctive administrative cadres, all this increased the confidence of the public and help decrease the negative effects expected  due to the death of an effective person in the volume of Dr. Abdulrahman Al Sumit, May Allah Bless Him.