Going beyond the usual occasional relief campaigns, an Austrian Muslim charity is launching a new worldwide drive to help meet the long-term needs of underprivileged communities in world countries via waqf-based projects.
"Our aid campaign is based on comprehensive studies from major institutions to know the needs of target communities," Ergon Blejec, president of the charity Motherhood and Childhood Society, told IslamOnline.net.
The aim of the project, the first of its kind to be undertaken by a Muslim charity in Europe, is to provide a sustainable support for the underprivileged, especially in South East Asian countries.
"As of early next year, we will be inviting donations for a project to build housing units and shops for needy families in small villages in Thailand and Sri Lanka," he said.
"The shops would help as a sustainable source of income."
Blejec said they were inspired by the tragic, destructive tsunami that devastated areas in several Asian countries nearly three years ago.
"Many Austrian Muslims who wanted to help people in hard-hit areas like Indonesia failed to find Muslim channels for their donations," he recalled.
"At that time, we realized that many charities give priority for people in Iraq and Palestine, while no aid was being provided for communities in other parts of the world."
Besides countries of Southeast Asia, the program will help Muslims in poverty-stricken African countries, such as Tanzania and Niger.
Blejec pointed out that while initially targeting Muslims, the services offered would be all-inclusive.
They will offer support for any disadvantaged group, particularly women and children, in any place in the world regardless religious or ethnic backgrounds.
Blejec believes that the waqf-based initiative has the potential to help in many low-income areas of the world.
"In countries like Myanmar or Thailand…building a compound to shelter 10 families would only cost nearly 50.000 euros," he explained.
"A well that can provide water for an entire village can be drilled for a merger of 500 euros," added, asserting that Muslims in Europe can easily foot such bills.
Blejec asserted that the waqf-based projects will go hand in hand with other charity activities like iftar packages during Ramadan and orphans aid.
Austrian Muslims, estimated at nearly half a million, make up some 6 percent of the European country's eight-million population.
Officially acknowledged under the "Islam Law" issued by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1912, Islam is considered the second religion in the country after Catholic Christianity.