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Rotterdam While most 12-year-old boys and girls are mainly involved in games, listening to music, and hanging out with friends, Dunya Leeken really cared about others at this age and was committed to helping other children. Charity was instilled in her at a young age by her grandmother, and partly because of her religion, Islam of course became a matter of her life.
By Amal Bali
Donia is now 20 years old and she works full time with two organizations. Charitable Foundation and Feis Foundation. She was recently nominated for a Young Impact Award.
“The Charity Helping Hand Foundation is truly my child,” Dunya says proudly. The foundation started eight years ago and was officially registered as a foundation in 2021.
Donia started charitable work at the age of twelve, albeit young but with great importance to those who need it. At the time, Dunya was in her first year of VWO at Wolfert Bilingual. Dunya saw around her that there were many children with potential, but they were not given the proper support and guidance to make the most of them. I decided to teach other children.
Over time, she saw that there were children who did not have a notebook and did not bring any food or drink during the break. When a girl told her she didn’t have a notebook because her parents couldn’t afford it, it caught Dunya’s attention.
“I grew up in Midland, which is a neighborhood in West Rotterdam. I come from a middle-class family. We weren’t very lucky, but we got everything we needed. I didn’t know poverty was so close to home. At the time, I’m now talking about 2014 /2015, there was still a lot of shame surrounding poverty. The Netherlands did not recognize poverty as it is now,” says Dunya. I decided to give paid private lessons through Bijlesmeester. With the money she earned, she bought notebooks, pens, and snacks for the kids, whom she gave free tutoring. This was her first real step into the world of philanthropy. “My grandmother was a real role model for me, and her house was always open to everyone. Charity and duty of Islam is for everyone.”
In recent years, Charity Helping Hands has grown into a charity not only in Rotterdam, but throughout the Netherlands and even in various countries around the world. Its first foreign project in Morocco was in Meknes and Tazouracht. As a result, she also began to be socially active abroad. The Foundation has about 120 volunteers and 20 volunteers participate regularly in the Foundation. The world is the mind and the face of the foundation. The Foundation participates in seasonal projects. Last Ramadan, the Charity Helping Hands Foundation distributed 500 food parcels to two centers for asylum seekers and socially isolated families. Last winter, bags with food packages, hygiene products and heat preservation items such as sleeping bags and thermos were distributed to the homeless to spend the winter. In the summer, for example, activities are organized for children who cannot go on vacation.
The foundation also provides wells in countries with water shortages. The Water Well Project is also a common thread through the Feis Foundation’s charitable work. The foundation is named after rapper Feis (Faisal Al Masih), who passed away in 2019. Donia Feis was known as an older brother. He often visits her grandmother and lives in the same Midland area. Feis often reflects on those in need in the world. The institution was founded in his memory. “With the foundation, we ensure the construction of water wells in third world countries and supplying the needy with their basic needs.
Young Impact Nomination
Being able to make such a difference at such a young age is such an amazing achievement, one must have thought when Dunya was nominated for a Young Impact Award. For Dunya, it was a complete surprise. “I’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t even realize it’s anything special. To me, the Young Impact Award means organizations get a bigger platform, allowing them to expand even more. This allows us to educate more people about poverty, especially in these times “.