Campaigners At The Coalface – Lameez Hafeez from MADE

Me 1

What is your campaign trying to achieve?
I work with MADE in Europe, an environmentally aware Muslim organisation, as a volunteer regional campaign coordinator and am currently working on the Enough Food IF campaign. The aim of this UK charity coalition campaign is to end world hunger. It may seem a bit daunting but we believe that IF is just the start of a longer campaign.
Why did you get involved?
I first got involved with MADE in Europe because of the great work they do with getting young people involved in global poverty issues. They have an amazing track record and I had already worked with them on several events. I wanted to bring their mostly London-centric campaigns up North so we could join in the campaigning fun. For me, particularly as a Muslim, justice is so crucial and I jumped at the chance to ensure greater exposure and involvement of the Muslim community.

What sustains you?

Food! No, seriously as a campaigner, it is the knowledge that I can make a real difference that sustains me. Having volunteered in developing countries I have seen poverty first hand, and know how much change is needed and wanted. I have also seen that it is the change that we make here in our governmental and coorperate policies etc than can make a real difference to lives over there. It is so important that we campaign. It is our global system, currently so unbalanced and inequal, that really needs to be changed. As such, everytime I hear of a campaign succes, such as that made in the budget on March 20th as part of the IF campaign, I am spurred on to do more. Everytime another campaigner comes on board and another young person is inspired to make change, I love what I do even more and want to do more, as I know it’s one more brick in the wall of change.

If people got involved in your group/campaign, what sorts of things would they end up doing?

Firstly, I think I should make it clear that we are open to ideas, in fact your motivation and creativity is the most important thing you bring with you. Right now there are many big events planne din the lead up to the G8, some of them so top secret that i can’t mention them til they are launched. But, if you need an example of the kind of things we are doing, check out the website. We ran a huge letter writing campaign in the lead up to the budget, which involved organising local training sessions, letter writing groups and events to meet your local MPs to help put pressure on the Chancellor to make change. We also had a great event in London where lots of our supporters dressed up as George Osborne and marched on parliament creating a giant IF made up of tens of chancellors. Locally, we also asked campaigners to do a bit of “Guerilla IFing” where they left IF campaign related messages on post-its and labels in random public locations to help raise awareness. We are always looking for new ideas and stunts so the more people who get involved the more change we can make and the more fun we can have doing it!

If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I think that would be ‘Injustice’ because it covers just about every ill that I can think of and would like to change. If we had justice in the world that would mean an end to poverty, trade injustice, tax avoidance, land grabs, climate change and so much more. With a bit of fairness in the world, a world where we all lived for justice and embodied it in our lives, we would ensure that everyone had enough and no one was living without.

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?

Do more! I was actually quite a shy young person and wouldn’t get involved in anything even if I was interested, unless one of my friends agreed to do it with me. I learnt as I got older that it is good to get involved, to be active, to say yes to things you want to do as much as you can. I would say get involved now, don’t wait. I have done so much but I know I could have done so much more had I just taken that step. I think the more active we are, the more we help others, the more we gain from this and the happier we end up being. Happiness is in helping others and giving of yourself. There’s just so much to change and to do, and we can make such a big difference by taking just a few steps.

You can also check out Lamees talking on Channel 4 about being a Muslim vegetarian here.

About arwafreelance

Freelance journalist based in the UK with an interest in the Middle East, environmental issues, Islam-related topics and social issues such as regeneration.
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