Saudi Arabia experiences a rise in volunteerism during Ramadan

Lina Tahlawi’s team selects neighborhoods in the city and walk through the narrow streets to reach out to the destitute. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

JEDDAH: The holy month of Ramadan is not only about strengthening one’s ties with the Creator, but also to express one’s gratitude toward Him for all the blessings bestowed upon us by helping the less fortunate.

Ramadan is a month of blessings and giving. Muslims all over the world ensure that they help the destitute in whatever way possible. During this month, people on an individual basis and in groups go out of their way to help others. This month witnesses a hike in volunteer activities.

From organizing group iftar and sahoor meals to providing needy families with essential food items and clothing, believers try to leave no stone unturned to benefit from this holy month by earning the pleasure of their Creator.

Like elsewhere in the Muslim world, one could witness a similar spirit in Saudi Arabia. As a matter of fact, due to the presence of the Two Holy Mosques these noble feelings are intensified.

Each year, volunteer groups assemble and organize teams to head out to impoverished areas to donate food and clothing.

This practice also encourages youth to volunteer for social causes and spend their time and energy in a constructive manner.  

Charitable activities across the Kingdom increase manifold during Ramadan. Before the Ramadan crescent is sighted, charities launch appeals to all those who wish to volunteer.

Truth be told, sacrificing one’s time and energy to help others while fasting during a hot and humid summer is no laughing matter. It takes courage and sincere devotion to accept such a challenge. However, those who volunteered to take part in the Basmat Bader initiative and other charities gladly take up the challenge to make other people happy.

Lina Tahlawi, 27, launched the Basmat Bader initiative after the death of her father. Talking to Arab News, she said: “I was not aware of all the charity that my father used to offer to needy families, I was highly inspired by him and I wanted to ensure the continuity of his mission.”

With a team of more than 50 organizers, 150 volunteers in Jeddah and 300 volunteers in Makkah, Basmat Bader distributes meals in the poor neighborhoods of Makkah and Jeddah.

Since the launch of the initiative eight years ago, Tahlawi overcame many obstacles.

Under the initiative, a number of university scholarships have also been offered. Organizing different events raised funds for those scholarships.

Lina said: “The proceeds of entertainment activities are aimed at supporting university students who need scholarships.”

Arab News accompanied one of the team of volunteers to see how they manage to distribute meals in this weather while fasting.

Unlike some groups who distribute iftar meals in the streets for drivers stuck in traffic jams, Tahlawi’s team selects neighborhoods in the city and walks through the narrow streets to reach out to the destitute.

This time around, they chose to visit a part of Jeddah’s Al-Aziziah district where members of the African community live in large numbers but unfortunately in abject poverty.

Lina said: “Every day we choose one of the city’s neighborhoods and we go with volunteers and a number of policemen for security.”

“The smile on the needy people’s faces once they take the meals is worth all the hardship,” said Roaa Baraseen one of the volunteers.

Tahlawi and her team distribute 700 meals daily in various neighborhoods during Ramadan.

source:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1317181/saudi-arabia

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