The very worst situations bring out the very best in some of us: that is what the Gujarat riots of 2002 did to Latifabano Mohammad Yusuf Getali (born 1962). From the uneventful life of a Muslim housewife to a relief and peace activist, she has walked a long mile. Braving the wrath of her conservative community, Latifabano has helped hundreds of Muslim women in the state gain access to relief and legal assistance. She backs this up with capacity-building activities for the women, helping them rebuild their lives.
The largely uneventful life that Latifabano Mohammad Yusuf Getali had expected to lead was severely challenged during the Gujarat carnage following the riots in 2002. And she was at the riot epicenter: Godhra. The atmosphere in the crowded relief camps, where Latifabano became a relief worker, was one of incessant terror and apprehension. Her skill in assisting and supporting women was given due recognition, despite the fact that others doing the same work were legion. When the relief camps eventually shut down, Latifabano started her own organization: the Al-Fazal Educational and Charitable Trust (Afec). Afec has been supporting underprivileged women, building their capabilities through information dissemination, and working tirelessly for peace between the mutually bellicose majority Hindu and minority Muslim communities. Latifabano's organization was the first Muslim women's organization in Godhra, so she faced the considerable wrath of the conservative Muslim community. But she continued undeterred, and the community gradually turned supportive. In the past couple of years, she has helped many families gain access to relief and legal assistance-in essence, bridging the gap between those working to help the affected and the victims themselves. Her work has also promoted a dialogue between Hindu and Muslim women in Godhra, where seeking peace, under the circumstances, seemed like asking for a miracle. Furthermore, her work has inspired a number of women into examining the rest of their lives with a positive outlook. Latifabano is one of several women who have challenged the stereotype of Muslim women in India.
Al-Fazal Educational and Charitable Trust (Afec)