Written by Daniel Peters, Volunteer at the ACAA
On the 14th September 2018, the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association was thrilled to be joined by Seema Malhotra MP, Mayor Samia Chaudhary and Former-Councillor Mukesh Malhotra. The visit celebrated the charity’s recent success in winning the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is ‘the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK’ and recognises ‘outstanding work’ in its communities. Staff, local residents, and those helped by the organisation all turned up in great numbers to welcome the visit, enjoying a wonderful selection of traditional Afghan food.
The charity’s Founder and Director Dr Nooralhaq Nasimi spoke of his pride in seeing the organisation grow and blossom over the past eighteen years. He thanked all of those volunteers who have given their time and noted how their diverse backgrounds mirrored the sort of integration he hoped to see in the wider community. Seema Malhotra MP then stood up to thank Dr Nasimi and everyone within the ACAA for their unwavering dedication. Seema Malhotra has been the Labour Member of Parliament for Feltham and Heston since 2011. In her speech, she said that “conversation is the first step towards building community”. This was in reference to the organisation’s English language classes and women’s ‘Tea Corner’, which both encourage discussion and integration. Seema highlighted the need for the charity in Hounslow, and ended her speech by saying “we need your work to be successful”.
There were also talks from Mayor Samia Chaudhary and Former-Councillor Mukesh Malhotra, both of whom have been key supporters of the organisation for some time. Mukesh Malhotra reflected back to when he first opened the charity’s Hounslow office in 2017, and how far the charity has since progressed. The Mayor also pledged to continue her support in the future.
Perhaps the most poignant message coming from all four speeches was the sense of togetherness between the charity and the community it served. All four speakers discussed the importance and success of the ACAA’s relationship with immigrants and refugees within Hounslow. The open door policy of the charity was widely praised as one of its greatest assets. Speeches were then followed by an opportunity to chat informally and enjoy the food on offer. The Queen’s Award has been a huge honour for the charity, and it was wonderful to share this experience with representatives from the Hounslow community. It is our sincere hope and belief that the good work done by the organisation will continue long into the future, for the benefit of all in society.