Fund honours long-standing volunteer

Marawaan Barense, Abdus Samad Akoojee and Farahnaaz Benjamin.

He is an all-rounder, someone the community respects and loves, and his love for others awarded him the ceremonial honour held by the South African National Zakah Fund last Friday.

Abdus Samad Akoojee, became a volunteer of the South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF), 30 years ago after he attended a meeting by the African National Congress (ANC) during apartheid, who were looking for organisations to aid the families of those who were arrested and in jail and living in underprivileged communities.

Mr Akoojee was honoured at the Sanzaf office in Athlone on Friday March 6 where a plaque was unveiled in his name for his continuous support and efforts over the years.

Last year the 82-year-old managed to raise over R1 million from various masajied during the month of Ramadaan.

He did this by also placing volunteers at different shops to collect money for charity.

Mr Akoojee grew up in Transvaal with his parents and 11 siblings and moved to Cape Town in 1963 as most of his brothers have moved as well.

He was married to his first wife for 27 years and to his current wife for 30 years and now stays in Kensington.

He has three children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

He became an executive board member of Sanzaf less than a year after he started volunteering.

He said that his love for the community and to interact with people had kept him volunteering for three decades.

Mr Akoojee’s love for the poor came about during his childhood when his parents would make food for the poor. He said he had a great working relationship with his colleagues who he deems as family.

“They all love me. I have a good relationship with everyone. They ask me for advice and I give it to them. My family understands that this is my purpose and my Creator has given me so much I want to give back to the community,” he said.

Mr Akoojee helps to pack boxes, prepare food parcels, collects money for charity, among all the other things that he does on a daily basis.

“I am like family at the mosques, it is part of me, I love all masjids. People know that I collect the money for Sanzaf and they are so willing to give. I am passionate about helping the community and I will do so for as long as I can. I might not have been blessed with much money but I have lots of knowledge and time to offer to help people,” he said.

Marwaan Barendse, special projects co-ordinator of Sanzaf, said he saw Mr Akoojee as his grandfather as both his grandfathers had passed away before he was born.

He said Mr Akoojee was a fountain of knowledge who was willing to share his expertise with others.

Shafiek Arendse, regional manager of Sanzaf Western Cape, said Mr Akoojee is the type of person who does not want acknowledgement for what he does.

“He does not want to calm down yet he still wants to be at the forefront of volunteering.

“He is our eyes an ears and he knows who needs help. People know him and they love him,” he said.

Sanzaf is also currently looking for volunteers to assist with their projects; for more information call their office at 021 447 0297.