South Asian Muslim Association of Australia (SAMAA) celebrated its Annual Elders Festival ‘ Jashn-e-Buzurg ‘  on Sunday 4 September 2016 at Bowman Hall, Blacktown. 

Well over 300 people including politicians, health experts, representative from aged care agencies and providers, community leaders and a large number of SAMAA elders, volunteers and SAMAA Friends attended the event with great enthusiasm.

The Premier of NSW, Hon Mike Baird not only sent a message for SAMAA souvenir, he also sent his representative Mr Kevin Connolly, MP, member for Riverstone, to attend the Jashn-e-Buzurg. Mr Kevin Connolly was also representing Hon John Ajaka, Minister for Ageing, Disability Services and Multiculturalism.

Also gracing the occassion were Parramatta MP Dr Geoff Lee, federal MP for Hughes, Craig Kelly, Mr Steve Teulan, Director of a Major Service provider Uniting Care and the Consul General of Pakistan Mr Abdul Majid Yousafani.

The Programme commenced with a recitation from the Holy Quran by Maulana Nazir-ul-Hassan Thanvi. The Sheikh described the significance of serving one’s parents and elders in general. He emphasized that any Financial Donations to support Organisations such as SAMAA, who were committed to serving Elders, would please Allah and He would reward such pious acts.

Mr Kevin Connolly conveyed best wishes of Premier Mike Baird to SAMAA. He applauded SAMAA’s  volunteers who were providing yeoman services to the elders and encouraged the community to support SAMAA in its efforts of building its own Aged Care Facility. He also described several NSW government initiatives aimed at serving the Multicultural Communities.

Dr Geoff Lee and Mr Craig Kelly also spoke and applauded SAMAA for its commitment in serving its elders.

Mr Steve Teulan  of Uniting Care described various services which  Uniting  Care was offering and its particular emphasis of working with communities of  Multicultural backgrounds. He expressed a strong desire to work alongside of  SAMAA in offering various services to South Asian Muslim elders including social support programmes and home care services.

Uniting Care had also set up a stall at the venue, with information brochures of its various services. Many elders collected some useful information from the Stall.

The Fund Raising Activity was preceded by  a very emotional presentation by a young boy Ali El Syed,  depicting the many tribulations of old age. This was articulated  in an extremely emotional manner which brought tears to many  an eye.

Mr Zahid Jamil, in launching the Fund Raising Programme, described serious challenges in building an Aged Care Facility for South Asian Muslims.

He stated that whilst Australian Government does offer Grants to build High Care Facilities or Nursing Homes for various  ethnic Communities, those grants were only available if the Ethnic Community had  its own land.

Once land is owned by the ethnic community, the government would generally give 50% of the construction costs. It is estimated that SAMAA would need a minimum of 2 million dollars to buy a sizeable Land.

A 50 bed Aged Care Facility would cost approx $10 million in construction i.e. $200,000 per bed. The government would  grant $5 million, being 50% of the Construction Cost and the other $5 million will have to be raised by the community.

Mr Jamil emphasized the need for more generous & more realistic donations from the South Asian community, if this dream is ever to materialise.

“It is up to our Community to wake up to the reality of this rapidly growing and  dire need of having our own Aged Care Facility & act now.   It requires our Community to open up its hearts & act with generosity & in a  realist manner”,  he said.

The fund raising was conducted by Mr Fasihuddin Khan, Mrs Shaheen Firdose and Syed Afzal Hussain accompanied by many volunteers on the floor. It included auction of several attractive items including paintings, calligraphy, Turkish artworks, electronic gadgets and Indian/Pakistani boutique items. The audience responded well with generosity.

It needs to be remembered that  South Asian Muslim Association of Australia is listed as a Public Benevolent Institution and donations to SAMAA are Tax Deductible.

Two seniors Dr Noorjahan and Mrs Tanveer Rizvi  launched the SAMAA Souvenir to celebrate 7 years of SAMAA’s journey and its achievements.

The popular Sydney singer Shagufta Zia recited a ‘Hamd ‘ to commence the Programme and later on, she sang several other musical numbers from her latest album.

The audience later enjoyed the South Asian cuisine & the Socialising with family and friends.

Dr Ahad Khan, in his vote of thanks, thanked sponsors, volunteers, Guests and Community members for their  unflinching support of SAMAA.