The 42-year-old chairperson of Kanyanya Muslim Women Development Association was among the more than 100 poor and needy Muslims who were invited to Wandegeya Mosque to receive assorted equipment and cash to start or boost their income generating activities. Like many of the beneficiaries, Nambooze did not have an idea why she was asked to be at Wandegeya without fail.

On arrival they discovered that the invitation was from House of Zakat and Waqf Uganda, an Islamic charity organisation that collects Zakat (an Islamic religious levy) from wealthy Muslims and distributes it the poor and needy Muslims.

It is obligatory to all Muslims who meet a certain criteria of wealth, and is ranked in importance after prayer (Swalah). “The guarantee to your wealth is Zakat, and, the guarantee to your health is sadaq (giving in charity),” said Sheikh Anas Abdul-Noor Kaliisa, an official of the organisation. Nambooze and her group wanted to boost their charcoal vending business at Lubugumu in Makindye Ssabagabo and House of Zakat and Waqf Uganda gave them a machine which makes charcoal briquettes that the organisation wants them to change to in order to save the environment.

Nambooze with her charcoal briquette making machine

The excitement that Nambooze had was the same as that of Sheilh Umar Farouk Batindira, the deputy Imam of Kikuube mosque in Mityana district. The 60-year-old Imam was given a deep freezer that he said would boost his meat vending business. “I applied for support through Sheikh Yusuf Mutimba, the Imam of Mulago Hospital mosque but I didn’t have any idea of what they were going to give me, Sheikh Batindira said.

Several other widows, orphans, people with disabilities and the economically distressed Muslims were given equipment and cash to start businesses.

Sheikh Obeid Kamulegeya hands over a cash package to a blind and disabled woman

Some received sewing machines, cookery equipment or welding machines among other equipments. “This is just a start, we are going to go around the country to distribute the Zakat that we collect. All these people have been given what they asked for,” Sheikh Kaliisa said.

Cookery equipment donated to women groups in order to boost their catering services.

The distribution was presided over the Deputy Supreme Mufti Sheikh Muhamood Kibaate, the former director of Sharia at Uganda Muslim Supreme Council Sheikh Hussein Rajab Kakooza and Sheikh Abdul-Obeid Kamulegeya – all board members of House of Zakat and Waqf Uganda. Sheikh Kamulegeya announced a Shs 200m donation from Yoweri Museveni to the charity in fulfilment of his pledge to contribute Shs 400m towards the organisation’s efforts against poverty.