She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She works for the Al-Fazal Educational and Charitable Trust AFEC.
Latifabano Mohammad Yusuf Getali – India
The very worst situations bring out the very best in some of us: that is what the Gujarat riots of 2002 did to Latifabano Mohammad Yusuf Getali.
From the uneventful life of a Muslim housewife to a relief and peace activist, she has walked a long mile. Braving the wrath of her conservative community, Latifabano has helped hundreds of Muslim women in the state gain access to relief and legal assistance. She backs this up with capacity-building activities for the women, helping them rebuild their lives.
Latifabano Mohammad Yusuf Getali (born 1962) led a normal life until 2002, a Muslim housewife living in Godhra with her husband, two sons, and two daughters. And since the carnage had begun at Godhra, Latifabano was right at the epicenter.
More than 100,000 families were affected, many internally displaced within the districts of the Panchmahals, Dahod, and other parts of Gujarat. The situation in Godhra was tense. In the relief camps that were set up immediately after the violence began, affected families from the rural areas poured in by the hundreds. There was little relief in the relief camps; there was, instead, constant terror and apprehension.
Several women, including Latifabano, became relief camp volunteers, looking after riot victims, including children, performing linking and managerial roles. Her performance as a camp volunteer was highly appreciated, and her skill in assisting and supporting women was given due cognizance, despite so many others doing the same work.
Activists from women’s groups and human rights organizations that visited the camps encouraged her to continue the good work even after the camps were closed and the work ostensibly over.
When the relief camps shut down, Latifabano started her own organization: the Al-Fazal Educational and Charitable Trust.
It’s been two years now (2005), and Al-Fazal has been supporting underprivileged women, building their capabilities through information dissemination, and working for peace between the majority Hindu and minority Muslim communities.
Latifabano’s organization was the first Muslim women’s organization in Godhra, and she faced the opprobrium of a conservative Muslim community which scarcely understood her motivation, and the so-called moral guardians of her religion periodically threw spanners in her work.
But as she continued regardless, the community gradually became accepting of her and is now, in fact, supportive.
Although statistics can be misleading in work of this kind, the success of this middleclass Muslim housewife can be gauged from the bean counter:
- 82 women who Latifabano helped avail of government schemes are now independent income generators;
- 80 women have been taught basic skills like knitting, stitching, and embroidery, and are economically self-sufficient;
- 100 women were educated under her adult education scheme and are now able to read and write;
- 93 girls and boys are studying in the first grade in English-medium schools.
Through Latifabano’s two-year stretch of work, several families received assistance in their relief, legal, and rehabilitation needs. Her work involved disseminating information about various legal and human rights bodies and individuals to the local families who had survived the riots.
Her work also became a catalyst for dialogue between Hindu and Muslim women in Godhra, where peace, under the fraught circumstances, seemed like asking for a miracle.
Latifabano’s work has inspired a number of women to look at the rest of their lives with positive a focus.
As one of that breed which has challenged the stereotype of Muslim women in India, Latifabano has shown immense courage and conviction in pursuing the cause of Muslim women and children within and outside her community.
The largely uneventful life of a Muslim housewife that Latifabano had expected to lead was severely challenged during the Gujarat carnage following the riots in 2002. (1000PeaceWomen).
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