History of the Al-Burhan Foundation is not long but nevertheless it is full of events and projects undertaken for Iraq and its people.
Starting point which initiated the Foundation was the dream in which Mr Imad Burhan, Managing Director of Al-Burhan Group and Founding Director of Al-Burhan Foundation had one night at the turn of the 21st century. He dreamed that was he visited by two veiled women who offered him a bag of dates sent to him by Al-Khidr (righteous servant of God, often associated with an angel). Highly impressed and inspired by this dream, he decided to embark on a journey to the Mosque of Sayida Ruqaya, daughter of Imam Al-Hussein (AS) in Damascus, Syria.
There, he wished to offer his support to the shrine and to fund a library there. However, at the same time he was aware that the building was in good condition and it did not need his help and soon he decided to continue his journey to Karbala in Iraq to visit Shrines of Imam Al-Hussein (AS), Imam Al-Kadhum (AS) and Al-Abbas (AS). On his way he passed by Najaf to pray at the Shrine of Imam Ali (AS) and this is when the miracle happened. While sitting in a taxi, he spotted a sign saying ‘Shrine of Sayida Ruqaya and Sayida Fatima – daughters of Imam Al-Hassan (AS)’ and decided to go there immediately.
Suddenly, a sad image appeared in front of him – the shrine was in unspeakable bad state and the local authorities seemed to neglect it completely. Mr Burhan felt a strong need to revive the original splendour of the place and spared no efforts to make his vision become true.
Despite of unspoken poor state of the shrine and aware how much time and funds it will consume before it will be completed, he persisted in achieving his goal. The process of renovating the Sayida Ruqaya Shrine began in 2008 and only in 2014 it was completed. The building was almost rebuilt anew – damaged walls were filled, ornamentation added and modern sanitary facilities and electricity were installed throughout the building.
Mr Burhan was impressed how much his little contribution can do for Najaf, its community and the whole of Iraq and soon began next charitable projects and the Al-Burhan Foundation has been established.
Charity work continues
Almost simultaneously with the renovation of Sayida Ruqaya Shrine, Mr Burhan decided to take under his patronage the Taj Al-Din Mosque, dedicated to Sayid Taj Al-Deen son of Imam Sajad (AS) located in Al-Hafriya, close to Kut. The works began in 2013 and were completed one year later. This place of prayer went through complete renovation and modernization for the comfort of the worshippers and to give Sayid Taj Al-Din remarkable place of rest he deserves. Today, many pilgrims are welcomed there every day with beautiful and modern surroundings and can pray in peace.
Soon later in 2013 Al-Burhan Foundation together with World Wide Welfare undertook a joint event to support orphans and widows in Baghdad. A monthly donation scheme was initiated and chosen families were given donations for the children, food baskets and abayas (cloaks for women).
Starting in 2012, Mr Burhan began to visit boys’ orphanage Dar Al Baraim located in Kut, south east from Baghdad. There, he observed the daily life of the orphans, followed their classes and witnessed their incredible creativity levels. Soon he took it under his patronage and in 2013 he decided to aid it with improving lives and laying strong foundations for the bright future of its pupils. Buildings have been renovated, sports ground was built and boys received modern bathrooms and computer room where they can connect with the world and learn more than they could earlier. Mr Burhan’s support did not finish with the renovation of the orphanage and he continued to visit the pupils and aid them. In between 2014 and 2016 only, New Year’s Eve celebrations were organised for them and later they could enjoy Summer Arts Programme where they acquired and developed their artistic skills. Moreover, they were also invited for a trip to Najaf and Karbala to visit the holy shrines.
The coming year was very busy for the Foundation as many projects were initiated in 2014. ABF decided to sponsor AMAR Foundation which is offering extensive help to people located in various parts of Iraq.
Secondly, ABF decided to renovate the BIAP Road linking the Baghdad International Airport with Baghdad. The road was not maintained for a long time and in addition to that, recent wars and conflicts left it in a state of decomposition. Therefore, Al-Burhan Group through Al-Burhan Foundation contacted the authorities and offered to facilitate not only repairing of the road but also upgrading it to the Western standards. The area has been cleaned, road was laid anew and black-and-white pavements separated from the traffic with bollards were created in key areas for the safety of pedestrians. Today, much more beautiful, full of trees and plants and modern than ever before, the BIAP road warmly welcomes every guest arriving to Iraq through the Baghdad International Airport. The renovation also symbolises cutting off from the turmoil of the past and optimistic looking forward bright future and the development of Iraq.
During Ramadan 2014, ABF initiated its regular project of Displaced Families Aid during which it supports 300 families who fled North of Iraq to Najaf to save their lives. Refugees received shelter, clean clothes, food, clean water and other essential items. Al-Burhan Foundation’ members each evening personally cooked in an on-site kitchen and served food and drinks to the families and they continue to do so every year.
In the same year, the first housing project - Asmaa Allah Al Husna was initiated by Haider Jawad Burhan. Its name means in Arabic ‘the most beautiful names’ and relates to Islamic tradition which lists 99 epithets describing the characteristics of God. Aim of this undertaking was to offer free of charge modern and safe housing to those inhabitants of the Iraqi city of Kut who needed it the most. Over the course of two years, the total of 518 people were given chance to improve their lives. The last family moved in at the beginning of 2017 and the previous chapter of their lives ended indisputably. Al-Burhan Foundation decided not only to offer a safe habitat to 99 families but also pledged to support the families financially. Every month each family receives a fixed amount of money, enough to cover their living costs and to spare the children from working.
In 2015 the Asmaa Allah Al-Husna Project gained the attention of news station Al-Naeem TV which conducted a live interview with the families and made note of the passion, dedication and love of the Foundation towards the charity work, with individual thanks given to ABF Founder Mr Imad Burhan, Mr Khedheyr K. Burhan and Mr Haydar Jawad Burhan. The reporter concluded the reportage with: ‘Let this charitable project started by Mr Imad Burhan be a prime example of dedication and nobility that the many must follow in helping the people of Iraq.’
In 2015 the charity work continued with distribution of food, clothes and medical care to families in need in Kut initiated by Mr Haider Jawad. This project went along other ABF’s initiatives of offering help to disabled people by but not limited to gifting them with wheelchairs. Moreover, the regular food distribution continued in Najaf and the BIAP area during Ramadan and in Karbala for the Ashura celebrations.
During the same year, Al-Burhan Foundation organised also two events of slightly different nature. One of them was a football charity match organised at the Al-Washash Stadium where the ABF staff competed against an Al-Gaylani football team from the Bab Al-Shaykh area. The other happening was an exhibition hosted at the Al-Burhan Centre to showcase artworks of Iraqi artist Nasir Hasan Khana.
In 2016 two educational projects were launched in Kut: Al-Burhan Co-Ed School offering education to children and Imad Al-Burhan Centre for Eradication of Illiteracy aimed at the illiterate adults. Both institutions are dedicated to Mr Imad Burhan’s late mother and offer education to less fortunate citizens of the local community who otherwise would be excluded from schooling. Illiteracy is a big problem in developing countries, such as Iraq. Difficult living conditions, including poverty, big distances from the school – all these factors can prevent children from accessing education. Another saddening point is that many people do not believe that their daughters and sons should learn and they are often required to stay at home and do household chores or to work from an extremely young age. The institutions are well attended, the primary school can host 450 children and the centre is available for up to 150 adults.
Upon completion of the first housing initiative, in 2017 the project of Suwar Al Quran began. Its goal is to build accommodation and to give financial support to 114 carefully chosen families inhabiting the area of the city of Kut. Each house carries a name of another Sura (chapter of Quran) and thus, similarly to the previous accommodation project, it alludes to Islamic traditions. Since March 2017, dedicated Al-Burhan Foundation team was on the mission to find households which need the ABF’s help the most, with a special emphasis on widows and orphans. Together with local population, they searched thoroughly and examined found families. Those who positively went through the application process were granted new accommodation and joined monthly donation scheme.
Towards the end of 2017 – Al-Burhan Group through Al-Burhan Foundation, G4S and Serco joined together to clean the area of Baghdad International Airport. Despite hot weather, many volunteers turned in to make the area easy for the eye and healthful. Working together, they not only collected rubbish, but also trimmed trees in nearby, removed dead branches and installed wooden benches, small trash bins and signs advising to dump rubbish into designed containers. Moreover, the Al-Burhan water tanker jets cleaned and removed dust from the streets.
2018 began with the Dream Project through which Al-Burhan Foundation offers financial support to every Iraqi citizen residing in the country who wishes his biggest and plausible dream to come true. As part of this project, hardworking disabled people were given vehicles and electric wheelchairs which changed their lives completely.