I thought the desert was just sand dunes, but fast realized that it was rocky, mountainous, flat, hilly, vast, and much more.
Our trek was challenging, no doubt. We covered a lot of ground within a short amount of time and camped along the way. We lived in the desert for four days, away from the comfort of our daily lives. And, surprisingly, being detached from the world made me more physically, spiritually, and emotionally connected.
I journeyed physically through the desert understanding the capacity of my own body and pushing myself to my limits.
I journeyed emotionally understanding my own self, my limitations, my presence, my weaknesses, and my strengths.
I journeyed spiritually marveling at the beauty Allah SWT has created and the endless perfection He has placed in each creation.
And, from this incredible journey, I also learned that sometimes just disconnecting from the world makes you more connected to those around you and yourself.
But our journey was not just for our own purposes. We served a purpose greater than that. Our trek was a team challenge for Islamic Relief USA. There were about 20 of us from the US, UK, Italy, and Spain—all different ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds. But our purpose was a shared one: to raise money for Islamic Relief’s water projects for vulnerable communities in various countries in Africa.
Islamic Relief USA raised funds for sand dams in Somalia. These sand dams essentially have the capability to “green the desert”. One dam can provide clean water to an entire village, including drinking water, water for livestock and crops, irrigation systems, and more.
In our journey, we had water along the whole route. Yes, at times our bottles became empty, and we would go an hour or so without water. But there are families in Somalia who struggle to have clean water on a daily basis. They journey every day by foot to get water for their families. Often, it is not clean water, but water filled with bacteria that will make them sick and further their obstacles.
Our journey had obstacles, but after four days of trekking, those obstacles vanished. We have since returned to our normal lives, but their obstacles will continue.
Thinking about these things made an impact on me throughout the trek. We weren’t just raising funds; we were creating an experience of a lifetime. People came together for an important cause, felt challenged, pushed themselves to their limits, and were reminded of the challenges that many face around the world.
Hopefully, through our journey, we not only made a difference in our lives, but in the lives of the people who donated to the important cause and the lives of those families we did this for.
“People in this world are like travelers whose journey is going on though they are asleep.”
– Ali ibn Abi Talib
Be awake during this journey. Make a difference during your journey.
This post was written by Fareeha Amir, multimedia manager at Islamic Relief USA.