A SOLICITOR who travelled to Lebanon during Ramadan to help people in need has smashed his fundraising target by amassing a whopping £12,000, and says the experience "changed his way of thinking". 

Sheroze Nadeem, from Blackburn, went to Lebanon in April, during the holy month of Ramadan with the Salam charity, to help Syrian and Palestinian refugees.

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Mr Nadeem, who has previously assisted with other projects such as the sleep out for the homeless at Blackburn Rovers and a sponsored head shave to raise funds for cancer research, planned to distribute food packs to impoverished families, and provide meals in the month of fasting for men, women and children, with many being widows and orphans and all being in a dire state of need.

Mr Nadeem said: "While I thought I had prepared and researched the situation before going it hit me in a way I can't explain.

"When you look around and realise that you are getting an insight into someone's life and the way it has been for the last eight years, and for many this is all they will know, it truly breaks your heart in a way which is hard to express.

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"No human but especially a child should have to worry about their next meal or not having food.

"The Salam charity is extremely well organised and structured, they'd provide several briefs during the day so we knew where we were going, what the situation was and a better understanding of those we met and the work we were doing.

"I would like to say it has changed my way of thinking and made me far more grateful for things which I may not have considered a blessing, such as a simple lock on our doors or the comfort of sleeping with no worry or danger to our lives."

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Mr Nadeem says he saw people who had nothing yet had once everything - many had "beautiful" lives in Syria and their own businesses but fled with nothing but the clothes on their back.

He added: "That being said they were all extremely content and at peace and not a single person complained of their situation.

"We met many families on a one-to-one basis and none wanted handouts but wanted to become self-sufficient, fortunately there are some schemes that the charity assists with that are allowing this. But they were just grateful for our time and company."

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Becoming aware of issues that hadn't even crossed his mind, Mr Nadeem said the work he did while over in Lebanon was only the tip of the iceberg, as he and his fellow volunteers had taken away the worry of food and some financial burden for thousands of families in the month of Ramadan.

He said: "We (donors/volunteers/charity and those raising awareness) have collectively been a reason for hope for these people; they felt they were not forgotten and there are people who care for their wellbeing.

"The gratitude they showed and the smiles of the people is something that will stay with me forever."

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When asked whether he would ever do something like this again, Mr Nadeem said "most definitely".

He continued: "I feel that I went to help others but ended up helping myself. It helped align my focus significantly of what real issues are and what they look like.

"What is it I want to achieve or leave behind in the limited time that we have to leave a footprint on this planet.

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"I'm grateful I was able to be involved but I would like to say that whilst the trip has come to an end, this is the start of a personal journey for me.

"One that I am grateful to have the support of my local community and beyond.

"Whilst a target was set for £5,000 we exceeded this significantly and raised just under £12,500.

"It means a lot that people have trusted me with their hard earned funds and I was able to share and show them how their generous donations were impacting and saving lives."

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The Salam Charity is based in the UK and was set up in 2011 with the aim to help fight poverty and transform lives.

To donate to Mr Nadeem's fundraising page, you can follow this link.

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