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Home arrow About IDRF arrow Brief History of IDRF
Brief History of IDRF PDF Print E-mail

IDRF began in 1984 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.

In 2009 IDRF completed 25 years of service. 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.

Over the past 25 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. These 25 years 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.