Blog Archive

12 tips on how to help the poor and needy

by Sound VIsion Staff writer
What can you, a teenager who doesn't have a lot of money or resources, do to help the poor and needy?
More than you think. Most young adults are blessed with the creativity and intelligence to find ways to help others despite limited resources. Here are some tips that can perhaps start the creative process:
1. Give a portion of your allowance each week to a poor and needy person or a cause in support of them
How much is your allowance or your salary from your part-time job? Not much, you might say. The great thing about giving though is that in about 99 percent of cases, you are not restricted to how much you can give to help the poor and needy.
That means for instance, instead of dishing out a dollar a day for a can of soda from the vending machine at school or work, maybe you can save this money two days of the week. Then give this money to the Zakat and Sadaqa committee of your mosque, a poor person you know in your neighborhood, a local soup kitchen or to a worthy cause abroad.
2. Encourage your parents to pay Zakat
Zakat is something too many Muslims neglect. If you are eligible to give Zakat, you must pay. If you aren't eligible, ask your parents about Zakat and if they pay, how and to whom. If they do not give Zakat, respectfully and politely emphasize to them the importance of this necessary pillar of Islam and encourage them to start paying it. Use wisdom and beautiful preaching.
3. Encourage a family Sadaqa (charity) project
Get the whole family to pitch in at least once a month to a worthy cause by organizing a family Sadaqa project. Call a family meeting (if you've never had one of these, this is a great time to start) and discuss your idea. Then come to an agreement on how everyone can help the poor. Whether it's contributing a set amount a week as a group with Dad giving the money to the Masjid after Friday prayers or setting up a box somewhere in the house where family members can privately donate, you all decide.
4. Talk about it in your youth group
What are the first steps in finding solutions to problems? Dua (supplication) then brainstorming and discussion.
At your next youth group meeting, put the difficulties of the poor and needy in your community on the agenda. Simply discuss and brainstorm. You don't have to come up with a plan all at once. But discussing this will start the process and keep it in people's minds.
If you don't have a youth group, get your friends together. Instead of having the usual hang out time one day, substitute this with a formal meeting. Now you have a youth group that can do this exercise.
5. Visit a poor part of town
How many big cities have "poor quarters"? Almost every single one. Sometimes, we need to see the reality of poverty right in front of us to really believe it's there, especially if we live in a financially well-off part of a city.
Go with your youth group to visit these areas. You don't have to necessarily bring money or food for them (although that wouldn't be a bad idea). Talk to the people, if they are willing to be approached, about living conditions and how they ended up there. Prepare yourself for an eye-opening experience.
6. Do a class presentation on poverty
Stumped about what to do for a school assignment? Why not talk about the plight of the poor in your community. Do your research thoroughly. Get statistics on poverty, real stories from books and perhaps even video- or audiotaped interviews of the poor and homeless. Show the human face of poverty. Follow the presentation up with a class collection for the poor.
7. Don't just collect money
There are plenty of basic necessities that people have to meet. Some people can't afford new shoes. So hold a shoe drive (some teens have already done this - read this link about it). Others cannot afford clothing. Hold a clothing drive. Collect the material, arrange for cars, vans or trucks to transport it to where it's needed, then make sure the material is properly distributed.
8. Write about poverty in your school paper
Have you got a knack for writing? Then write about poverty in your school newspaper. Educate your student body not just with words, but photos too, if possible. If you've visited a poor part of the city (see tips above), then you have plenty of material and personal material to write about.
9. Write about Zakat and Sadaqa in your Masjid newsletter
Does your Masjid have a newsletter? If so, dedicate the next issue to the topic of Zakat and Sadaqa and how they help the poor and the needy. You can interview an Imam to get the basics straight. You can also include various charitable causes readers can give their money to locally to help the poor and needy.
If you don't have a Muslim youth newsletter, maybe this can be your premiere edition.
10. Put the information on a website
If you put the above-mentioned newsletter or at least some of the articles online, you 'll probably have more young people reading it than if you limited the information to print only.
11. Collect money in your group
After your next group meeting, pass around a box to collect donations for the poor and needy. Better yet, make this a weekly practice. Make one person responsible for collecting the money and sending it off after consulting everyone on which cause it should be sent for.
12. Organize a youth seminar on poverty
Get a youth-friendly Imam or speaker to come and talk about how Islam has successfully fought against poverty in the past and can continue to do so in the present. Then, after his lecture, hold a workshop with participants and come up with 21 ideas of how the audience and Muslim teens in general can help fight poverty in America and abroad Islamically.
http://www.soundvision.com/Info/poor/teentips.asp


Why charity is important

In today's materialistic society, charity is often seen as low priority.

However the reality is that the community we live in has a huge influence on us personally – it fosters safety, responsibility and sustainability – so it is important that we take our community seriously for the greater good of humanity and for our own personal benefit.

Most importantly though, you'll gain an appreciation for what REALLY matters – and it's not fame or fortune!

After-all, there are many high-profiled people who are great believers in charity and the planet. Bill Gates donates millions of dollars to charities, Bob Geldoff and U2's Bono are great crusaders against world poverty, and many other celebrities offer money and their time to a variety of causes.

Yes, these people have the money to give and their image has done pretty well out of their endeavours – but at the heart of their generosity is the genuine desire to make a difference. And they do.

But, you don't need lots of money or fame to contribute to the community – we all can.

It is my honest belief that we should all help those less fortunate than ourselves – and trust me, if you have the resources to be able to read this article on-line, then there are lots of people out there who are less fortunate!

Whether this help is financial through appropriate donations or through donating your time as a volunteer doesn't really matter, but we should all feel some social responsibility to do something.

Everyone can do something. YOU can do something. If you don't have the time, DONATE. If you can't afford to donate money, VOLUNTEER and offer your time or services.

Making Donations

As a general guide, aim to donate 10% of your income to charity. You may have heard the phrase, "Charity starts at home" – so make sure your budget can afford it!

Some things to keep in mind when choosing a charity:

  • Pick a cause that you believe in the most – all charities are worthwhile, but which ones are YOU passionate about?
  • Look around your, there are thousands of poor people desrve to be helped out, there are so many families which are not having food, money for education, warm clothes, fan for cooling, shelter to stay, basic comodities. Go help them, help them on weekly, monthly basis.
  • Payment terms – do they have a 'subscription' donation system where you're set up to make regular donations? Do they have a minimum donation acceptable? Do they accept all payment options? Do they provide a written receipt (they should!)? An of course, is this all acceptable to your finances.
  • Can you claim donations for this particular charity as a Tax Deduction? What are the particular tax laws in your country?
  • What does the charity do with the money – are you concerned that too much of the money is spent on administration fees and staff costs?
  • Of the charities you've investigated, which one gives the biggest 'Bang for your buck'?
And of course, encourage your children to give some of their money to charity too - little kids love putting money in donation boxes, and you may be surprised how well older children understand the concept of giving to charity.

Are you a lovable person? Quick test

1. Do you keep a record of wrong doings of your friend?
2. Are you jealous about your neighbors fortune?
3. Are you proud of your social status?
4. Do you rejoice at the misfortune of your enemy?
5. Are you getting irritated often?

If "YES" - your heart is dry. You are not lovable.

Top 10 Hard Working Countries of the World


The Organization for Economic Cooperation & Developments (OECD) released its Society at a Glance survey, which investigated the number of hours the population of its member countries spent in both paid & unpaid work (defined as working at home or doing volunteer work), as well as how much time people spent in leisure activities. Lets take a look at which countries are among the worlds busiest & hardest-working nations?
 
10. Slovenia
Average Hours Worked: 8.15
Slovenia rounds out the top 10 in terms of average hours worked among the population of OECD member states, possibly as a result of the fact that Slovenians do 3 hours & 51 minutes of unpaid work each day, 24 minutes more than the OECD average. Slovenia also has the lowest income inequality in OECD & the 9th   lowest relative income poverty rate at 7.8% of its population. Slovenia registered a big fall in infant mortality in the last generation & has the second lowest rate in the OECD of 2.1 per 1,000 live births, just after Luxembourg. But the country is rated in the highest 3rd of the OECD for perceived corruption & the lowest third for confidence in national institutions.
 
9. USA
Average Hours Worked: 8.16
According to the OECD the U.S. is only ranked 9th among the hardest working nations. However, at $31,000, the U.S. has the 2nd highest average household income after taxes & benefits in the OECD, after Luxembourg. But U.S. income is distributed relatively unequally, with both the 4th highest rate of income inequality & relative poverty (17.3% of people are poor compared to an OECD average of 11.1%) in the OECD. People in the U.S. have a life expectancy of 77.9 years, lower than the OECD average of 79.3 years, despite having the highest public & private spending on health at 16% of GDP, considerably higher than the OECD average of 9%.
 
8. New Zealand
Average Hours Worked: 8.18
New Zealand may not be famed for its work ethic, but it actually ranks quite high. Unpaid work in New Zealand accounts for 43% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the 3rd highest in the OECD after Australia (46%) & Portugal (53%). Along with Israel, Iceland & Turkey, New Zealand is one of only 4 OECD countries with a fertility rate @2.14children per woman, sufficient to replace the population in the coming generation.
 
7. China
Average Hours Worked: 8.24
The research also included non-OECD member countries such as China, India, South Africa, & Brazil because all are enhanced engagement countries which means OECD members have opted to forge a more structured & coherent partnership with them. The research states that, at less than an hour, both men & women spend very little time on unpaid work in China, in comparison with other countries, particularly in terms of cooking & cleaning. Meanwhile, at 12.29 births per 1,000 of the population, China has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, equal to France & the United Kingdom. The average birth rate stands at 1.54 children per woman.
 
6. Austria
Average Hours Worked: 8.29
At nearly 8 1/2 hours of work per day, Austrians have the 6th highest total time spent working both paid & unpaid in the OECD. (The OECD average is 8 hours.) Austria also has the 5th lowest unemployment rate in the OECD at 4.8% far lower than the average OECD rate of 8.1%. Austria has low income inequality & poverty rates with around 7.2% of the population on relatively low income or classed as being in poverty in both cases..
 
5. Estonia
Average Hours Worked: 8.36
At 8 hours & 36 minutes, Estonians  yes we did say Estonians  have the 5th   highest total work time in the OECD, well over the OECD average of 8 hours & 4 minutes. At 3 hours & 52 minutes, Estonians do the 4th highest unpaid work time after Turkey, Mexico & Australia, & well above the OECD average of 3 hours & 28 minutes. However, at 14.1%,  Estonian unemployment is also the third  highest in the OECD, six percentage points above the OECD average of 8.1 %..
 
4. Canada
Average Hours Worked: 8.37
Canadians have the 2nd   highest rate of positive experiences in the OECD after Iceland feeling well-rested, being treated with respect, smiling, doing something interesting, & experiencing enjoyment. At the same time, Canadians have above OECD average negative experiences, such as pain, worry, sadness, stress & depression. Canada has the 6th  highest proportion of its population foreign-born in the OECD at 20%, nearly double the OECD average of 11.7 %..
 
3. Portugal
Average Hours Worked: 8.48
While some people might think that the Portuguese live a relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle, they in fact rank among some of the hardest  working in the world. Men do nearly 2 hours of unpaid work in Portugal, compared to less than an hour in other OECD countries such as Korea & Japan. The amount of time devoted to unpaid work accounts for up to 53% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the country, the highest proportion of all OECD countries, compared to 19% of GDP in Korea. Meanwhile, 60% of the Portuguese population spends time cooking & cleaning, spending the 3rd  largest amount of time on household chores at 110 minutes per day..
 
2. Japan
Average Hours Worked: 9
The 2nd -hardest working nation among OECD member countries will probably come as no surprise to anybody. Japans adherence to its work ethic is legendary with company employees often competing to stay at work later than their colleagues to achieve promotion in many corporations, where company loyalty is demanded & where a job for life still means life. Japanese people work an average 9 hour day while the unemployment at 5.3% is well below the OECD average of 8.1%..
 
1. Mexico
Average Hours Worked: 9.54
Recently, Richard Hammond of the TV program Top Gear managed to upset the Mexican Ambassador to the U.K. by suggesting that Mexicans were lazy, feckless, flatulent [&] overweight. The OECDs research, however, may go some way to ward redressing the balance by showing that the Mexican people are in fact the hardest working in the world, working a total of nearly 10 hours on average every day. They also have the 2nd -highest level of income inequality & the highest level of relative poverty among OECD countries.

Excel's conditional formatting features to highlight input cells

Takeaway: Conditional formatting is great for adding visual clues to values, but you can also use it to identify input cells to guide users through a data entry task.

You probably use conditional formatting to highlight specific values in a conditional way. For instance, if a value is less than 0, you might want to display that value in red. You can also use conditional formatting to highlight a range of input cells - it's simple and the result is an easy-to-implement data entry guide.
The following sheet shows a simple savings calculator that uses conditional formatting to highlight the input cells for each savings option. The user selects a savings options from the list and conditional formatting highlights the input cells. Those cells remain highlighted until the user selects a different savings option from the list. The formulas above the input area display the appropriate savings result.

Before we get started, you should know that this example is about using conditional formatting to highlight input cells. It is not about the savings formulas or the other pieces used to round out this example. In fact, you don't have to enter the formulas at all to get this technique to work. There are a number of ways to enhance this sheet further if your goal is to build a savings calculator. For instance, a finished sheet might display only the relevant results (column B in the upper portion). In addition, I based the data validation list on the static list in the upper part of the sheet. You might not want to display that list in the actual data entry portion. For the sake of explanation and simplicity, I chose to put everything on the same sheet.
Now, let's get started! To build the sheet, do the following:
  1. Use the sheet below (which still displays gridlines) as a guide to entering all the labels.
  2. Next, define the following names:
    B6 Rate
    C6 YSave
    D6 MSave
    E6 OTSave
    F6 Deposit
    G6 Goal
  3. Enter the following formulas
    B2 =IFERROR(FV(Rate/12,YSave*12,-MSave,-Deposit),"Error")
    B3 =IFERROR(FV(Rate,YSave,0,-OTSave),"Error")
    B4 =IFERROR(PMT(Rate/12,YSave*12,-Deposit,Goal),0)
At this point, your sheet should resemble the one below. You might want to apply the currency format to B2:B4 and D6:G6. I also shaded and outlined a few label cells. (These formatting steps aren't necessary for the technique to work.) Now you're ready to build the list that offers savings options.

  1. Select A6.
  2. Click the Data tab.
  3. In the Data Tools group, click the Data Validation dropdown.
  4. Choose Data Validation. In Excel 2003, choose Validation from the Data menu.
  5. In the resulting dialog box, choose List from the Allow dropdown.
  6. Enter =$A$2:$A$4 in the source control and click OK.

The next step is to add the conditional formatting that highlights the input cells for each savings option. To do so for the first savings option, Future Value (Monthly), do the following:
  1. Select cells B6:D6 and F6.
  2. Click the Home tab.
  3. In the Styles group, click the Conditional Formatting dropdown. In Excel 2003, choose Conditional Formatting from the Format menu.
  4. Choose New Rule. (Skip this step in Excel 2003.)
  5. Select the Use A Formula To Determine Which Cells To Format option in the Select A Rule Type section. In Excel 2003, choose Formula Is from the Condition 1 dropdown.
  6. In the Format Values Where This Formula Is True control, enter the formula: =$A6="Future Value (Monthly)".
  7. Click Format.
  8. Choose a color from the Fill tab and click OK.
  9. Click OK to return to the sheet.

Repeat the steps above to set the conditional formatting for the other two savings options:
  • Future Value (One-Time) uses input cells B6:C6 and E6 and the conditional formula, =$A6="Future Value (One-Time)".
  • Savings Goal uses input cells B6:C6, F6:G6 and the conditional formula, =$A6="Savings Goal".
If you like, you can turn off the gridlines by clicking the Page Layout tab and unchecking the View option under Gridlines in the Sheet Options group. At this point, your sheet should resemble the first sheet shown above, which highlights the input cells for the third savings option, Savings Goal.
To guide data entry for the first option, Future Value (Monthly), choose that option from the validation list. As you can see below, doing so highlights a different set of input cells. Choose Future Value (One-time) to change the input cells to accommodate that savings option.


Remember, you can further enhance this sheet as an actual savings calculator. You might want to use different (more precise) formulas, or add more savings options and input values. You'd probably want to apply validation rules for the input cells and protect the formula and label cells. In addition, you should probably delete input values when changing options. They won't interfere with the formulas if you leave them, but they might confuse users.
The sheet, as is, illustrates how to use conditional formatting to highlight input cells. It doesn't complete the savings calculator as a useable product.
I'd like to hear how you put this particular tip to use—it's interesting, easy, and has a world of possible uses!

Story: Its our response that hurts us


" No One Can Hurt Us "
On His First Day In office
As President Abraham Lincoln Entered To Give His Inaugural Address,
One Man Stood Up
He Was A Rich Aristocrat.
He Said
" Mr Lincoln, You Should Not Forget That Your Father Used To make Shoes For My Family "
And The
Whole Senate Laughed,
They Thought They Had Made A Fool Of Lincoln.
But Certain People Are Made Of A Totally Different Mettle.
Lincoln Looked At The Man Directly In the Eyes And Said
" Sir, I Know That My father Used To Make Shoes For Your Family,
And There Will Be Many Others Here,
Because He made Shoes The Way Nobody Else Can.
He Was A Creator.
His Shoes Were Not Just Shoes
He Poured His Whole Soul Into Them.
I Want To Ask You,
Have You Any Complaint??
Because I Know How To Make Shoes Myself.
If You Have Any Complaint I Can Make You Another Pair Of Shoes.
But As Far As I Know,
Nobody Has Ever Complained About My Father's Shoes.
He Was A Genius,
A Great Creator
And
I Proud Of My Father.
The Whole Senate Was Struck Dumb
They Could Not Understand What Kind Of Man Abraham Lincoln Was.
He Was Proud Because His Father Did His Job So Well That Not Even A Single Complaint Had Ever Been Heard

" Remember "
" No One Can Hurt Us Without Consent "

" It is Not What Happens To us That Hurts Us
It Is Our Response That Hurt Us "

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