Australian Relief Organisation (ARO) held its third annual Ramadan Iftar dinner on 27 June at the Renaissance Function Centre in Lidcombe.
The function attracted over 400 guests, Muslims and non-Muslims alike from diverse backgrounds including Australian, Burmese, Bosnian, Egyptian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Pakistani, Indian, Turkmen, Turkish and Chinese. Local media representatives were also present that evening.
Various members of the Federal and State parliaments as well as other dignitaries were hosted at the dinner; including the Hon. Laurie Ferguson; Federal Labour Member for Werriwa, The Hon. Luke Foley; NSW Labour Leader of the Opposition, The Hon. Paul Lynch; NSW Labour Member for Liverpool, The Hon. Jihad Dib; NSW Labour Member for Lakemba, as well as the Hon. Greg Donnelly; Member of the Legislative Council, and Le Lam; Auburn City Councillor.
ARO’s Public Engagement Manager; Rifat Akpinar was the MC for the evening, where President Ahmet Aydogan welcomed guests and outlined ARO’s mission statement. On behalf of the Board of Directors, President Aydogan thanked all the hardworking directors, advisors, members, volunteers and the wider community for their moral, physical and financial support in their second year of operation.
ARO CEO Cihan Tumen gave a presentation on the activities and briefed the audience on completed projects, ongoing activities and future plans of the organisation. Following the presentation, representatives from a number of nursing homes, rehab centres, asylum seeker agencies, schools for children with special needs were awarded with thank you plaques for their co-operation with the Australian Relief Organisation.
Laurie Ferguson underlined the importance of ARO’s activities and acknowledged the organisation’s efforts. Mr Ferguson mentioned that there is a negative image of Islam portrayed in the mass media, and emphasised that through organisations like the ARO, the Australian public can appreciate the essence of sharing and solidarity promoted by Islam. He stated that the value of a human life is equal regardless of the background of victims, hence commented that humanitarian aid activities should not discriminate the beneficiaries for their religion, race or gender. Mr Ferguson acknowledged ARO’s activities in line with his definition, and thanked the Board of Directors especially for developing local projects that provides relief to Australians.
Highlight of the evening was the presentation of a Recognition Award to a 93 year old local veteran named Lionel Mance. Lionel received this award for his loyalty towards his beloved wife of seven decades, supporting his wife in her old age, visiting her every day by catching a bus to the local nursing home and feeding her daily meals personally.
Both Luke Foley and Paul Lynch voiced their appreciation for having organisations like ARO in their local community.
Jihad Dib placed emphasis on the spirit of Ramadan, beauty of Iftars and importance of charity in Islam. Dib stated that ARO is very successful in bringing people together in Ramadan and raising much needed charity for the poor and needy.
Before the conclusion, Burmese Muslim Association presented a cheque to ARO President, providing their community’s support to Nepal Earthquake victims.