The Islamic Garden
Volunteering in Thailand - So Many Kinds of Mountains
people might think that Sarah Pathan is in need of help and assistance because
she lives with a permanent disability. However, despite finding it very difficult
to walk, she frequently travels up and down the mountains of
From North to South
age of nineteen, Pathan started traveling to the mountains in the north of
Part of the Solution
Her work includes fundraising to obtain the money needed to pay for the girls’ tuition and expenses. Pathan notes that she has had mostly positive responses from people when she raises funds for the impoverished girls. Without these funds she would not be able to continue her work. From the time she was young, she has been moved by the many stories she hears about poor families in the north selling their daughter/s to work in factories, farms, or as sex slaves. The girls can be as young as 13 or 14. Sometimes the boys in the families face the same sad circumstances, but Pathan noted that the girls have fewer choices than the boys, and little or no power to decide their future. Rather than just feel upset when she heard about the plight of the girls, Pathan decided to be part of the solution.
for nine years in the mountainous regions of northern
What Keeps Her Going?
What is it that drives Pathan to do this work despite the obvious difficulty? She said, “I wanted to go to the mountains to help these girls because I want to fulfill my Islamic duty of helping the poor and these girls are helpless.” Despite being partially handicapped herself and often needing someone to help her to walk, she climbs the mountains to go to these girls. She said, “I never know how I will climb the mountain that is in front of me. I just know Allah is helping me.”
Not long ago, she fell ill and her legs became very swollen. The doctor wanted to amputate one of her legs because of a problem with her blood circulation. At first she was frightened. She told her sister, “One night I prayed to Allah. ‘O Allah, this leg is Yours and I just have it temporarily and if You want it back I will give it, but I will never stop going up the mountains to do my duty to You and spread Islam.”
She made peace within herself and resolved to be determined. She told herself that if the doctor had to amputate her leg, she would accept it. She was no longer afraid. However, a miracle happened; after two or three days, her circulation improved and she was able to walk. It was not long before she was climbing mountains again.
First Things First
In the mountains she teaches young people about cleanliness. She observed, “The first thing in Islam is to teach people how to be clean.” In her efforts to find safe employment for the girls where they will not be abused or exploited, she organized a factory to make halal food and many girls work there. She also opened a flower shop and the girls who sell the flowers are treated well, paid fairly and are able to practice Islam freely.
There have been cases where the family of the girl accepts Islam because the girl goes back to her family as a successful, happy and pious young woman and convinces them about Islam. Pathan, and the many people working with her, cook food for poor families at the Islamic center. She said, “So many families are very poor and we bring food for them.”
When she feels tired, Pathan does not give up because she is committed to serving Almighty Allah. She said, “Who will take care of my girls if I don’t do this work?”