Pakistani-Norwegian group awards teen for philanthropic services to refugees

Syed Sibtain Shah

OSLO: A Norway-based Pakistani welfare organisation presented on Monday an annual award to one of the country's youngest philanthropists for her noteworthy humanitarian works for Syrian refugees in Europe.

Andrea Hoff Haga, the 18-year-old Norwegian currently in her third year of higher secondary school, has been involved in humanitarian work, comprising volunteer services to Syrian refugees in Norway and Greece.

The distinct award, bestowed by the Islamabad-Rawalpindi Welfare Soceity Norway (IRWS), was presented to Haga at a graceful ceremony in the Norwegian capital city, Oslo.

A large number of the people attended the IRWS' annual gathering, where Haga’s parents — Kjetil Haga and Hanne Hoff — were also present, alongside Riffat Masood, the Pakistani Ambassador to Norway.

Haga has not only worked for refugees in her own country but also provided her humanitarian services to the Middle Eastern refugees stationed at different cities in Greece.

Over the past 30 months, she has made nineteen trips to Greece to help refugees from the Middle East and express solidarity with them, she explained.

On her social media profile, she writes: "Refugees have done more for my heart and my spirit than I can ever express in words."

The young philanthropist and her parents expressed their gratitude to the Pakistani organisation for acknowledging her services and awarding her this prestigious accolade.

Apart from Ambassador Masood's speech, others who addressed the audience included IRWS Norway President Mirza Mohammad Zulfiqar, Vision Forum President Arshad Butt, Minhaj-ul-Quran Director Allama Muhammad Iqbal Fani, Ghousia Muslim Society Norway Mufti M. Zubair Tabassum, and Hasnain Sarwar.

The topic of discussion at the event — moderated by IRWS General-Secretary Rashid Awan and senior member Yousaf Khan — was the Pakistan Resolution and the nation's ongoing situation.

In their talks, the speakers stressed on the need for Pakistani youth to know and understand the country's history, the independence movement, and sacrifices made to secure a homeland for Muslims of the Indian subcontinent.

The IRWS, one of the most active Norwegian-Pakistani welfare organisations, also highlighted some of its office-bearers for their volunteer services over the year. These included Mirza Anwar Baig, Chaudhry Mazhar Hussain, Aqeel Qadir, Ismail Sarwar, Ali Asghar Shahid, and Yousaf Khan.

Over the past, the IRWS has helped people in need, especially those affected by the severe earthquake of 2005 and the floods of 2010, 2013, and 2014 in Pakistan.