The Organization

Mission Statement: IDRF (International Development and Relief Foundation) is a Canadian registered charitable organization dedicated to empowering the disadvantaged people of the world. IDRF provides effective humanitarian aid and sustainable development programs, without discrimination, based on the Islamic principles of self-reliance, social justice and human dignity.

Vision: IDRF seeks to provide the most vulnerable communities with the means to create lives of dignity, equality and sustainability, towards a more just world. Our projects are particularly effective as local partners implement them, and therefore are culturally sensitive and provide targeted assistance.

For 30 years, IDRF has successfully implemented Relief and Development projects in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Americas. IDRF has long benefited from the financial support and guidance of DFATD (Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development — formerly CIDA).

IDRF will put your contribution to good use for the benefit of the people in our world community who suffer through crises and disasters or who are struggling against deprivations caused by severe poverty.


It was in September 1984 when three concerned Canadians put their signatures on the IDRF charter. They were Dr. Fuad Sahin, the late Muin Muinuddin and Ebrahim Sayed. That was the year Ethiopia was plagued by famine and drought – and hundreds of thousands of starving peasants were moving south through the desert, looking for food and burying their dead on the way. That was also the year when the major crop of Afghanistan was landmines. Landmines that were planted to kill unsuspecting civilians – and landmines that looked like toys – intended to kill children. Those landmines produced over a quarter of a million mutilated amputees who dragged themselves through the streets of Peshawar and Quetta. IDRF was there, sending grain to the victims of famine, and providing prosthetic limbs to amputees.

In that year, IDRF was registered as the International Refugee and Relief Program (IRRP) of the Canadian Council of Muslim Communities (CMCC). The choice of name reflected the need that IRRP was established to fulfill. At that time, there were more than ten million people displaced around the globe as a result of war and famine. About 80% of them were Muslims. CMCC felt compelled to assist in the resettlement and rehabilitation of some of these refugees. IRRP responded by sponsoring the admission to Canada of hundreds of refugees from camps in Europe by raising funds for their resettlement by holding a public forum on immigration attended by the Minister, submitting briefs to the Canadian government, and by developing a strong advocacy and education program on refugee issues. It was realized that while short-term assistance was necessary, there was a need to attack the root causes of poverty, famine and violent conflicts at the international level.

On June 12, 1986, with the filing of incorporation papers, IRRP metamorphosed into the International Development and Refugee Foundation (IDRF). There was a continuing need to assist refugees, but the inclusion of the word, “Development”, in the name marked a significant change in direction for IDRF. The emphasis would be on self-help over handouts. IDRF would concentrate on helping people at the grassroots level to organize themselves to work collectively for their own economic betterment. IDRF would facilitate training and other needs identified by the beneficiaries themselves and would help supporters in Canada increase their understanding of international development issues.

IDRF still provides relief assistance to refugees and other victims of man-made chaos such as wars and conflicts, or natural disasters such as floods, typhoons and earthquakes. But the major focus of IDRF is development programs aimed at poverty reduction, literacy, and healthcare, as a means of helping families and communities equip themselves with the tools to overcome barriers and become self-reliant and self-sufficient.

This year IDRF is commemorating 30 years of humanitarian services to people around the world, rendered without any bias of religion, nationality, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

Over the past 30 years, IDRF has created thousands of supporters across Canada and around the world, and has helped millions of impoverished and tormented men, women and children. The past three decades have been the years of constant firefight, moving from crisis to crisis, providing food and medicine, wiping tears of rape victims, planting trees, digging wells, helping the blind, setting up schools, creating jobs, and providing basic healthcare to the needy.

Expanding the Role of the Canadian Muslim Community

In the last few years Canadian Muslims have responded in unprecedented numbers to both natural and human made disasters in the Muslim world. These catastrophes have mobilized large numbers of people to contribute to relief aid. On the other hand, the international attention, and human and financial resources were diverted from countries where underdevelopment and poverty are the cause of a continuum of death, disease and suffering. This state of affairs is all the more poignant, considering that very small amounts of finances and resources are needed to help prevent widespread death and disease, and alleviate much suffering.

In an effort to focus the attention of the Muslim community on this phenomenon and to encourage greater commitment to addressing the underlying causes of poverty, IDRF organized a series of Regional Consultations, with the help of Regional Representatives, and the financial support of DFATD.

The consultations, based on the theme: “Moving Beyond Relief: Expanding the Role of Canadian Muslim Community”, began in April 2001 and were held with significant success in a number of cities across Canada: Montreal (Quebec), Toronto (Ontario), Calgary (Alberta), Saskatoon (Saskatchewan), Moncton (New Brunswick), and Halifax (Nova Scotia).

A final wrap-up session, held in Toronto in October 2001, brought together the IDRF Board, Staff, Committees members with the participating Regional Representatives.