Arfa Sarfaraz Khan - President
Arfa Sarfaraz Khan, hails from Pakistan. She holds a Masters in Political Science ,Development journalism and an M.Phil in Mass Media and Communication.
Arfa has held multiple positions in the fields of academia, journalism, public relations and the social welfare sector. She has extensive experience in research, planning and successful project delivery. Arfa has volunteered in the spheres of inter-faith discourse, women's empowerment and children education. Her philanthropic work included teaching underprivileged children, raising funds for causes such as the Pink Ribbon Foundation, environmental justice, flood victims, hospitals, orphanage and people with special needs.
Arfa is the President of United Muslim Sisters of Latrobe Valley for the last five years (2015- current). Our organization was nominated for the Community Event award at the Australia Day function in Morwell. UMSLV is working to dispel fears and prejudices about Islam in the region. Arfa represented the Victoria Police Social Cohesion Project in its annual event.
Arfa graduated from Leadership Victoria New and Emerging Communities leadership course and Gippsland leadership program in 2017 which further built up her skills as a community leader. She is a graduate of Community leading change.
Arfa was previously the editor of local newspaper 'Traf News' 2016/2017 and was also associated with Trafalgar community development and chaired the library chapter. She is a member of Trafalgar community and development authority. Arfa sits on different boards; Latrobe City Cultural and Diversity advisory Committee, Latrobe Health Assembly and Victorian Police multicultural task force.
Arfa was nominated by Baasila for her involvement with the community for “women acknowledging women" award. Their aim is to acknowledge the quiet achievers - Muslim women who find their niche, get on with it, and make a positive impact one small step at a time in their local community.
Khatija Halabi - Founder and Current Vice President
Khatija's first experience of working with bilingual-bicultural families was during her role as a language therapist and audiologist at a school for the Deaf in South Africa. In Gippsland, she observed that families had similar issues of preserving their home language and culture while still being open to learning Australian English and culture. The same skill set that she employs in Allied Health ie. Listening to patients’/community members’ needs and responding accordingly, providing access to support, and working as a team with other multidisciplinary professions was used to start this wonderful organisation, United Muslim Sisters of Latrobe Valley. Our team initially consisted of 7 enthusiastic women who reflected the diversity of the muslim community in the region and who shared the same vision. They were Zeinab Badreddine, Syeda Hussaini, Yumna Ahmed, Nahla Nabulsi, Tahrima Rahman and Farhat Zafar. Wile our committee members and activities may have changed, they are still aligned with the organisation’s vision and missions.
Coming from South Africa, she believe in the concept of it takes a village to raise a child and what she wants for her children, she wants for everyone else’s too. Our mission of creating an environment where our children can be confident resonates very strongly with Khatija. While working with people in those environments on the one hand, be they school, our neighbourhood and/or places of work, on the other hand, she loves that UMSLV also provides platforms where children can develop their confidence. Empowering the mothers and helping them feel connected is important because as mothers, volunteers and community leaders we need to set an encouraging and hopeful example of our children’s futures.
Her role as Vice President is to support the President, Arfa Sarfaraz Khan, who through her leadership is doing an amazing job at growing the visibility of the organisation in the region. Khatija is also responsible for collating and editing content for the website and articles for our newsletters as well as manage our facebook page.
Outside of UMSLV, Khatija has started an audiology business called Casey Hearing. They help people with hearing concerns fully participate in life through the gift of improved hearing because staying connected with loved ones, community and activities you enjoy are vital for personal, social and mental wellbeing. Khatija was a finalist in the AusMumpreneur 2020 awards in the Multicultural Business Excellence and Making a Difference (Health and Wellness) categories. She has used her experience from UMSLV and working in Allied Health to give back to the community by getting involved in Leadership Victoria’s New and Emerging Communities Leadership Program as a mentor and on various African Diaspora platforms.
“By lifting and enabling each other we progress our entire society” (Maree McPherson).
Sahrish Rafat has 3 children under the age of 7 years who keep her very busy. She loves to socialize and meet new people hence her involvement with the United Muslim Sisters of Latrobe Valley (UMSLV). She is currently the secretary on this committee but has also had the youth co-ordinator role in her first year with our organisation.
Sahrish works as an integration aide at Neerim District Secondary School. She is very passionate about her job and loves working with youth. Integration aides not only assist children with learning difficulties but also with behavioural issues that may be due to trauma or social circumstances.
Her love for working with young people started while living in Dubai. As a teenager she found herself working with children with special needs and was introduced to a program that helped children with autism. She completed her degree in accounting in Australia but volunteered as an aide at a school and has not looked back!
Sahrish was recently nominated for the Women Acknowledging Award in the Education Superstars Campaign for the great work that she’s done as an integration aide during the Covid 19 pandemic. Sahrish attributes her successes and confidence to her upbringing. She acknowledges her parents who allowed her to make her own decisions and who supported her no matter what and thanks them for her freedom.
Yumna Ahmed has been a part of the United Muslim Sisters of Latrobe Valley executive committee since the organisation’s inception. She moved to Australia from Pakistan in 2009 with her my parents at the age of 16 years. She has a Bachelors degree in Science (Biotechnology).
Yumna was the secretary of UMSLV from 2013. Her role included a range of roles and responsibilities, from writing meeting minutes to communicating with stakeholders and event partners; and from organizing events to being actively involved in the delivery of programs. One such program is MY Story, a program delivered at high schools that aims to encourage empathy among peers through the development of story-telling.
We partnered with CMY on the MY Story project. Yumna worked with CMY as a youth facilitator for 2 years and she owes her career to UMSLV as it is through this organization that she developed connections with CMY and other organisations in the region. Yumna completed a diploma of community services and she felt the experience she gained through community involvement and projects with UMSLV gave her a head start with this field of study. One of the biggest advantages of being involved in a community organization is the ability to expand social networks, which she has found very helpful for finding work. Yumna currently works with diverse communities at Headspace and studies Social Work.
Yumna completed Leadership Victoria’s New and Emerging Communities Leadership Program that was held in Gippsland. Through this, she gained further skills that she could use in both her community work and paid employment.
Through Yumna's own experiences as a young migrant, as well as through her work in communities and as a youth facilitator, she has developed a unique understanding of the needs of young people in our region. Yumna is passionate about helping young people and adults from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Background in Gippsland find their voice, or when needed be their voice.
Hina completed her Certificate III in children services in 2007 and later on completed her Diploma in Graphic Designing. Currently, she runs her own day care and has been associated with the Child care industry since 2013. Hina also runs her own catering business under the name MY KITCHEN FLAVOURS. During her spare time, when she has any, she also works as a graphic designer on small projects. Hina is passionate about Art, Food and Children.
Hina is a very active member of my community and loves helping people who need my assistance. She was nominated by Baasila for her involvement with the community for “women acknowledging women" award in 2019. Their aim is to acknowledge the quiet achievers - Muslim women who find their niche, get on with it, and make a positive impact one small step at a time in their local community.
Hina joined UMSLV in 2015 and became an integral part of this organization very soon. In 2016, she took up a role with UMSLV as Youth Coordinator, which involves organizing school holiday activities for children of different age groups. In 2017-2018, she was offered a role as Communication and Media office at UMSLV. Due to her vast experience and expertise in this area, her transition in to this role was very smooth. Hina's role involves designing flyers, Newsletters, Brochures and Media Coordinator for UMSLV at their events.
Hina also actively participate at OLIVIA'S Place, which provides support during any stage of pregnancy and early parenting assistance in the first year of a child’s life. At Olivia's place they provide practical advice, material and emotional support to much needed parents. She has learnt a lot from this organization and she contributes positively and constructively to it.
Hina also runs her own Catering business under the name MY KITCHEN FLAVOURS. She provides quality gourmet food at a reasonable cost to my clients. She participates in different food festivals where she is privileged to meet people from diverse walks of life and shares her delicious food with them.
Hina is currently studying certificate III & IV in Education Support. She is passionate about education and helping students to achieve their goals. She loves children and supporting them as they grow into confident learners. Working with children is something Hina finds great passion in and finds it extremely rewarding to see them learn and grow. Being a part of an experience like this is very rewarding. She is looking forward to working with many enthusiastic students and dedicated teachers.
Mariam Wahid - Youth Co-ordinator