UK’s LemonAid Boys, 8, squeeze oranges to help rebuild homes for Syrians

Eight-year-old best friends Ayaan Moosa (L) and Mikaeel Ishaaq began raising money for humanitarian causes when they were six years old by selling homemade lemonade. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
1 / 3
Eight-year-old best friends Ayaan Moosa (L) and Mikaeel Ishaaq began raising money for humanitarian causes when they were six years old by selling homemade lemonade. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
UK-based charity Penny Appeal teamed up with the LemonAid Boys to give out freshly squeezed orange juice in Ilford, in east London, to promote the Rebuilding Syria campaign. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)
2 / 3
UK-based charity Penny Appeal teamed up with the LemonAid Boys to give out freshly squeezed orange juice in Ilford, in east London, to promote the Rebuilding Syria campaign. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)
Mikaeel Ishaaq (L) and Ayaan Moosa, known as the LemonAid Boys, are raising money to build homes for Syria this Ramadan. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)
3 / 3
Mikaeel Ishaaq (L) and Ayaan Moosa, known as the LemonAid Boys, are raising money to build homes for Syria this Ramadan. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)
Short Url
Updated 19 April 2022

UK’s LemonAid Boys, 8, squeeze oranges to help rebuild homes for Syrians

Mikaeel Ishaaq (L) and Ayaan Moosa, known as the LemonAid Boys, are raising money to build homes for Syria this Ramadan. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)
  • Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq have raised money for Yemen, Palestine, and Rohingya, and now they want to help Syria
  • The boys have teamed up with UK charity Penny Appeal as their new young ambassadors to raise money and awareness for various causes

LONDON: Two eight-year-old boys, who have upped their philanthropic game over the past year by selling lemonade, have now set their eyes on raising money to build homes for Syria this Ramadan.

“We’re raising money for homes for Syria, and we’re aiming to raise double the amount of what we raised for Yemen, which is around £250,000,” Mikaeel Ishaaq, one of the LemonAid Boys, told Arab News.

He said they like raising money because they want to help needy people to have access to basic provisions, like food and water, so they can be equal to them, and maybe one day, get to meet them.




Mikaeel Ishaaq (R) and Ayaan Moosa, known as the LemonAid Boys, are raising money to build homes for Syria this Ramadan. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)

“We’ve done Yemen, Palestine, and Rohingya, and now we want to help Syria,” his charity pal Ayaan Moosa said, adding that they were now focusing on helping Syrian refugees and those displaced from war.

The two best friends, from Ilford, in east London, began raising money for humanitarian causes when they were six years old by selling homemade lemonade. To their surprise, their initial campaign to collect cash for Yemen went viral and caught the attention of award-winning actress and human rights campaigner Angelina Jolie, along with several Premier League footballers, human rights organizations, and international TV stations.

For this year’s campaign, the boys have teamed up with UK-based charity Penny Appeal and are squeezing oranges, instead of lemons, for OrangeAid in conjunction with the international humanitarian organizations Team Orange.




UK-based charity Penny Appeal teamed up with the LemonAid Boys to give out freshly squeezed orange juice in Ilford, in east London, to promote the Rebuilding Syria campaign. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)

“It feels different because oranges have bigger seeds, so you have to push harder into the oranges. We’re having a lot of fun and we’re happy because we’re making other people happy in other countries, and we’re doing zakat,” Moosa added.

His father Shakil Moosa said his wife, and Ishaaq’s parents, were “quite active in charity” and helped specific causes. They had wanted to introduce their boys to their work from a young age, but never thought it would go as “crazy” as last year.

“As Muslims, it’s a huge part of our life, it’s one of the pillars of our religion, so we want to instill that into our children from a very young age, and they’ve been doing this now since they were six years old, and now they’re eight, and it’s just everyday life for them,” he said.




Eight-year-old best friends Ayaan Moosa (L) and Mikaeel Ishaaq began raising money for humanitarian causes when they were six years old by selling homemade lemonade. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)

Last year, the boys also won a number of accolades and were nominated for a gold Blue Peter Badge — the highest award given for exceptional achievement by the BBC children’s program — by the British rapper Stormzy. Following that, they won the Rotary Great Britain and Ireland Young Citizen Awards for their humanitarian causes.

The boys are now Penny Appeal’s new ambassadors after also collaborating on another Ramadan campaign to help raise money for Palestinian medjoul date farmers by promoting the dates with their own recipes online.

Nazira Bemath, the charity’s PR manager, said: “That’s when the idea was like, you know what? These boys are amazing. Let’s get them on board, and they actually came to me and said we’d like to raise money for Penny Appeal and this time we’d like to do Syria and that just was exactly what we were raising for this Ramadan, we’re doing a big campaign called Rebuilding Syria.”

 

 

Moving forward, she added, they were planning to do several projects with the young ambassadors and get them to front different lifestyle and Muslim community campaigns over the coming year and join forces with the well-established charity that had the tools to enable them to really make a difference.

“They’re little role models, if other children see them doing stuff like this for charity, it rubs off on other children, other kids want to get involved. And the idea is to really build the young fundraisers of our generation, and Mikaeel and Ayaan envelope exactly what we’re trying to do,” Bemath said.

Redbridge London Borough Council leader, Jas Athwal, who visited the Penny Appeal van in Ilford town center, said it was “absolutely fantastic” that so much money had been raised to rebuild infrastructure and housing in Syria, but also to rebuild people’s lives.




Redbridge London Borough Council leader Jas Athwal (C) visited the Penny Appeal van in Ilford town center. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)

“When people are down, especially in places like Syria, Yemen, even now in Ukraine, we have to come together as humanity to make sure that we stand up for our fellow human citizens, our brothers and sisters, because we don’t know when we may need help ourselves,” said the politician.

“The LemonAid Boys, Penny Appeal, what they’re doing is just so wonderful, and I’m just so pleased that there are people living here in Redbridge who’ve got the vision, the foresight, and the empathy to actually really deliver for fellow humanity.”

 

 


Afghan Taliban deputy calls for reopening schools for girls

Afghan Taliban deputy calls for reopening schools for girls
Updated 5 sec ago

Afghan Taliban deputy calls for reopening schools for girls

Afghan Taliban deputy calls for reopening schools for girls
ISLAMABAD: A senior member of the Taliban-run government in Afghanistan on Tuesday called on Afghanistan’s new rulers to reopen schools for girls beyond the sixth grade, saying there is no valid reason in Islam for the ban.
The appeal from Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the Taliban deputy foreign minister, came during a top Taliban gathering in Kabul. It was a rare moderate voice amid the harsh measures imposed by the Taliban since they overran the country and seized power in August 2021.
The measures include banning girls from middle school and high school despite initial promises to the contrary. Women are required to cover themselves from head to toe in public, with only their eyes showing.
The Taliban have said they are working on a plan to open secondary schools for girls but have not given a timeframe.
The United Nations has called the ban “shameful” and the international community has been wary of officially recognizing the Taliban, fearing a return to the same harsh rule the Taliban imposed when they were last in power in the late 1990s.
“It is very important that education must be provided to all, without any discrimination,” Stanikzai said. “Women must get education, there is no Islamic prohibition for girls’ education.”
“Let’s not provide opportunities for others to create a gap between the government and people,” he added. “If there are technical issues, that needs to be resolved, and schools for girls must be opened.”
Still, it was unclear if and how much Stanikzai could sway hard-liners, who appear to hold the reins in the Taliban administration.
Stanikzai was once head of the Taliban team in talks that led to the 2020 agreement in Qatar between the Taliban and the United States that included the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
His remarks follow the Taliban appointment of a new education minister, days after the UN called on them to reopen schools for girls. The UN estimates that more than 1 million girls have been barred from attending most of middle school and high school over the past year.
A year after the Taliban took over the country as the Western-backed government and military crumbled, the UN says it is increasingly concerned that restrictions on girls’ education, as well as other measures curtailing basic freedoms, would deepen Afghanistan’s economic crisis and lead to greater insecurity, poverty, and isolation.

UK-Albania deportation pact undermined by legal challenge

UK-Albania deportation pact undermined by legal challenge
Updated 5 min 15 sec ago

UK-Albania deportation pact undermined by legal challenge

UK-Albania deportation pact undermined by legal challenge
  • Asylum-seekers from Balkan country will not be subjected to ‘rapid return’ scheme, ruling out over 90% of arrivals

LONDON: A UK government scheme to send Albanian asylum-seekers home quickly after their arrival has been undermined after it emerged few people would be eligible for it.

A legal challenge brought by campaign group Care4Calais against the “rapid return” deal signed between London and Tirana last month, which would have fast-tracked asylum applications and, subsequently, deportations for Albanians entering the UK illegally, means that only a very small minority of those who arrive — those who fail to claim asylum, or have criminal records — could be subject to removal in any event.

Under the initial terms of the deal, asylum applications by Albanians found to have reached Britain having passed through a safe country en route would be rejected, with those people put onto special chartered aircraft “within days” to return them to their Balkan homeland.

It was aimed predominantly at Albanians trying to enter the country via small boats from northern France, the numbers of whom have been growing rapidly throughout the year.

Ninety percent of Albanians who reach the UK via boats across the English Channel claim asylum. This year, more than 31,000 people have successfully made the crossing so far, around 60 percent believed to be Albanian, according to the UK Home Office.

Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, told The Times: “The government’s PR blitz outlined a fast-track removal scheme that appeared to deny people from Albania their right to a fair hearing for asylum claims.

“The suggestion was that asylum claims made by Albanians are spurious. In fact, 53 percent of Albanian asylum claims are accepted by the Home Office, demonstrating that for many Albanians their country is not a safe place to live.

“Under the threat of judicial review, the government has performed a major climbdown. In doing so, they are accepting that people from Albania have the right to make an asylum claim and have it fairly heard. This is a victory for human decency.”

In a statement, the Home Office said: “The Albania fast-track process focuses on removing the growing number of individuals from Albania who have no right to be in the UK. This includes failed asylum seekers, foreign national offenders, and individuals overstaying in the UK or seeking to game the system by not claiming asylum.

“Those who seek to abuse our system should be in no doubt of our determination to remove them, as the public rightly expects. Since signing our returns agreement with Albania in 2021, we have removed more than 1,000 Albanians, including some who crossed the Channel illegally to come to the UK.”


Daesh ‘Beatle’ dodges US supermax prison in ‘kick in the teeth’ to victims

Daesh ‘Beatle’ dodges US supermax prison in ‘kick in the teeth’ to victims
Updated 26 min 48 sec ago

Daesh ‘Beatle’ dodges US supermax prison in ‘kick in the teeth’ to victims

Daesh ‘Beatle’ dodges US supermax prison in ‘kick in the teeth’ to victims
  • El Shafee El-Sheikh carried out brutal aid worker killings during Syria’s civil war

LONDON: Daesh “Beatle” El Shafee El-Sheikh has avoided serving prison time in a US supermax prison after being moved to a lesser penitentiary following conviction, The Mirror reported.

The terrorist, who grew up in Britain and had his citizenship stripped in 2018, was part of the four-man Daesh terror group dubbed the “Beatles” that carried out brutal high-profile killings during Syria’s civil war.

But after being convicted in the US, the 34-year-old has avoided being transferred to Colorado’s ADX Florence — the country’s most notorious supermax prison — as was expected.

Instead, the Sudan-born terrorist is being held at nearby USP Florence High, where he will stay as part of the general prison population rather than in solitary confinement.

Earlier this year in August, El-Sheikh’s legal team argued during sentencing that due to mental health issues, the man dubbed “Jihadi Ringo” should serve time in a lesser prison.

“Sending Mr. El-Sheikh, an individual who is already showing signs of mental and physical deterioration from his present and past detention, to ADX Florence, is not an appropriate sentence,” they said.

However, trial judge Thomas Selby Ellis dismissed the plea at the time.

El-Sheikh was found guilty on eight charges, including four counts of hostage-taking resulting in death, murder conspiracy and conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

The “Beatles” group was responsible for the killings of British volunteers David Haines and Alan Henning, as well as US aid workers Kayla Mueller, James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig.

A US prison source told The Mirror: “Quite how El-Sheikh avoided the supermax, none of the victim’s families know.

“They were sure he was to see out his days at ADX, but they have now been told he has been sent to the lesser penitentiary. It’s a huge kick in the teeth.”

The source added: “The supermax is reserved for the worst of the worst, and El-Sheikh’s CV shows he is more than qualified.

“But he has avoided being kept alongside some of the world’s most dangerous men and dying alone.

“While El-Sheikh’s cohort (Alexanda) Kotey admitted his guilt, he thought he would beat the system and fool a jury over his innocence. They saw through his lies, and now payback has begun.”

Prisoners held at Florence High have included US serial killer Gary Ridgway, as well as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers.


Gulf, Arab delegations attend former Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral

Gulf, Arab delegations attend former Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral
Updated 49 min 3 sec ago

Gulf, Arab delegations attend former Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral

Gulf, Arab delegations attend former Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud attended Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state funeral on Tuesday.

During the funeral ceremony, Prince Faisal conveyed the condolences of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The UAE’s Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, also attended the funeral. He conveyed the condolences of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, President of the UAE, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to the Japanese government.

Sheikh Khalid met with the widow Aki Abe and a number of family members to also offer his condolences.

Bahraini Crown Prince and Prime Minister Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa also attended Abe’s state funeral. 

Prince Salman bin Hamad was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and several senior officials.

The crown prince praised the late Abe’s role in strengthening Bahrain-Japan relations. He also emphasized Bahrain’s commitment to further strengthening the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Other Arab leaders were present at the state funeral including Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.


Jordan King Abdullah II meets Japan PM, mourns late Abe

Jordan King Abdullah II meets Japan PM, mourns late Abe
Updated 27 September 2022

Jordan King Abdullah II meets Japan PM, mourns late Abe

Jordan King Abdullah II meets Japan PM, mourns late Abe
  • The two leaders agreed to continue working together to ensure long-term stability and peace in the Middle East region

DUBAI: Jordan’s King Abdullah II paid his respects to former Japanese Prime Minister ABE Shinzo during a summit meeting with current Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio on Tuesday.

According to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, King Abdullah II, who attended the state funeral, said that Abe was a great friend of not only Jordan but also the region and shared the hope to develop the bilateral relationship based on his legacy.

Kishida expressed his hope to hold discussions to further develop the diplomatic legacy inherited from the late Abe.

The two leaders exchanged views on the regional situation including the Middle East Peace. Kishida expressed his concern about the impact of the price hike of food and fuel on Jordan, which is hosting a large number of Palestinian refugees, and stated that Japan would continue its support for Jordan, including its support to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA.)

Kishida also congratulated King Abdullah II Crown Prince Hussein’s engagement and expressed his wish for the long-lasting prosperity of the Jordanian Royal Family and further development of friendly relations with Japan’s Imperial Family.

The two leaders agreed to continue working together to ensure long-term stability and peace in the Middle East region.

This article was originally published on Arab News Japan.