By Ishita B Saha: I have a problem with the way the word ‘charity’ is used sometimes, so loosely and rampantly around us. ‘You don’t like the crockery set? Why don’t you give it to charity?’ or ‘Would you like to donate JUST 50 Dirhams for this program? The money is going towards charity!’ Where exactly is my share of the charity money going and what makes one assume that 50 dirhams is ‘JUST AN AMOUNT’ for me and not a ‘LOT’? Only when I can connect myself to a charitable cause is when I feel like donating heartily. And that is how charity should be. Getting involved in a charity should tug a string in one’s heart and make one feel humble knowing that it made a tiny difference in someone’s life, even though perhaps momentarily. Donating money to a cause vs being a part of a cause through some amount of active participation – the latter resonates more strongly with me because it also gives me a chance to let the children in the family enrich themselves ‘doing’ a good deed. Ramadan worldwide has always been the month to ‘give back’ and there are many noble charity initiatives that an UAE resident can be a part of. I do feel however, that there shouldn’t be a special month or a season for giving back and the ‘giving back’ philosophy should be part and parcel of everyone’s daily life. In fact, this can be incorporated with a lot of ease if an act of kindness isn’t perceived as an ‘act’ but rather a regular activity in one’s daily life. Most often it doesn’t happen that way because we don’t internalize a cause but rather try to be a part of it superfluously as it gives us a ‘feel good’ feeling. All of us have the capability and capacity to make a difference in the lives of people around us, however tiny our contributions may be. We know this, yet we often choose to ignore to be involved in many causes as either, they take a bit of effort on our part and also because it’s a bit of a burden financially. Here are two initiatives that we, at FoodeMag, have personally engaged ourselves with this Ramadan. While Debbie has been instrumental in #FillingTheBlues since its inception five years back, my family has been helping to stack the neighborhood fridge since last year, within our limited capacities, with help from the two pairs of tiny hands at home! The latter one ~ the Ramadan/Sharing Fridges initiative, was founded last year by Sumayyah Sayed, an Australian expat living in Dubai. The initiative has grown organically during last Ramadan and is back again this year – it is a noble cause and is really easy for everyone to get involved in it. A non profit community initiative under the umbrella of the Red Crescent in association with Open Arms UAE, the Ramadan/Sharing Fridges aim to help community workers and labourers to have access to free food and drinks during the month of Ramadan from fridges placed at various locations across the city. Needless to say that the success of this endeavor depends in mobilizing the Dubai residents to keep the fridges well stocked up. If you want to contribute and become part of The Ramadan/Sharing Fridges initiative, request to join its Facebook page which is already 28,000+ members strong with regularly updates from the initiative’s administrators and Fridge managers requesting refill and to guide the volunteers. Do locate the Fridge near you through this Google Map and be a part of #ramadanfridges2017!
Charity begins at home, and no where can this adage be put to better use than being part of the Ramadan/Sharing Fridges. A few extra additions in your weekly grocery list is all it requires… and let’s take a pledge to make sure that these fridges are always full. And thinking about these precious fridges, can these Ramadan Fridges be transformed permanently into Summer Fridges? Dubai samaritans, are you all listening ~ does this not sound cool to you?
While everybody is welcome to ‘help themselves’ to these Ramadan Fridges, do bear in mind that the fridges are primarily meant for people who are working in the sweltering summer heat or have been fasting throughout the day!
Ramadan/Sharing Fridges in different communtites
#TriedNTested: Seek out the Ramadan Fridge in your locality and help to keep it full. While a well stocked up fridge looks lovely, it gets empty in no time. Do check the one that you have wished to contribute to, on a regular basis and try to stack your share when it’s relatively empty. Ask the local fridge manager which are the most challenging hours or days in the week, so that you can supplement during that period. In my experience, the fridge we contribute to are well stocked over the weekends and goes empty Monday morning onwards. Although fruits like watermelon etc are nice to quench thirst, avoid putting cut fruits in the Ramadan Fridge and instead opt for whole fruits and vegetables (preferably pre-washed), that last longer and can be eaten without much chopping and slicing. Homemade muffins and other edibles packed in small boxes, dried fruits and nuts, small bottles of juices, laban ups, water – all make for great power packed and healthy donations. Be practical when you contribute and if you are buying packaged food items, make sure that they last the heat and aren’t prone to any contamination.
The Ramadan/Sharing fridges are open 24/7 so you can donate anytime. However, community workers are around between 8am until 6pm which is when the need is greatest. If you want to check what works best in your neighbourhood, your local fridge manager would love to hear from you, each fridge is a little different. Ramadan/Sharing Fridges in the UAE
Giving Back ~ If you are looking for an alternative Iftar, join us at #Fillingtheblues
This is a great initiative from Moti Roti and is supported by other local businesses, bloggers and resident volunteers. Each year, Moti Roti teams up with these samaritans to provide Iftar to labourers working throughout Ramadan. Read more here.
[Images: Ishita B Saha]