Ramadan is a busy and important time of year for many charities focused on working in Muslim countries. Things get hectic and donors are keen to reap the rewards of giving charity in this Blessed Month.
At our head office and on the ground in the field, our staff and partners worked hard to prepare and implement our Ramadan programmes. Campaign ideas, how best to present our programmes and packages and budget allocations were decided here at Interpal headquarters, whilst field office staff prepared beneficiary lists and logistics on delivery.
Our seasonal programmes aim to fill nutritional and financial gaps suffered by Palestinians in all our areas of operation. Ramadan and Eid are also a time to give a sense of joy to the people we work for.
- Our 'Feed the Fasting' programme held collective Iftar and Suhoor events for the most vulnerable in Palestinian society. This included needy children, the elderly and the disabled.
The events were organised to have a celebratory atmosphere, with Interpal staff interacting with the beneficiaries. A nutritious meal is often difficult for those who live with food insecurity, and this provided relief in the holy month.
- Our 'Food Voucher Programme' aimed to provide food for families, but also to preserve their dignity. Rather than giving a population already heavily dependant on aid food parcels, we chose to provide our beneficiaries in Gaza with vouchers, and cooperate with local supermarkets so beneficiaries could choose their own supplies for their families.
This was a way to ensure that the food provided was what a family would consume, avoiding wastage and increasing satisfaction. It was also a way to reduce the frustration families may feel when receiving handouts and give them some control by making it seem like an ordinary shopping trip. It also removed the concern over food supplies for a whole month and allowed the sick, children and the elderly vital nutrition.
- In Lebanon, where the squalid refugee camps and high unemployment make every day a struggle, our beneficiaries came to distribution points and picked up supplies as part of their monthly food parcel. This relieved some of the anxiety they may have felt about feeding their children and gave them more peace of mind during Ramadan.
- Eid is a time of celebration and for our young beneficiaries in Jordan, we worked to make sure they had new clothes they chose and were able to feel the spirit and excitement of Eid. We also organised Eid parties for children from disadvantaged and impoverished backgrounds.
- I had the pleasure of meeting 11 year old Saifuddin, who had been a beneficiary of one of our collective events for children in Gaza. He had been so traumatised after the 2009 Israeli invasion that he stopped speaking. It was only after months of therapy that he began to communicate again and still has speech impairments. His mother said that her children are always sad, they worry about there being no food in the house and they also feel the burden of poverty.
The effects of the occupation and life as a refugee take their toll on children. Chances to distance the things that cause them distress are an important aspect in outreach and psycho-social support.
Many trees were also planted during Ramadan, many water tanks and incubators donated and many needy children sponsored. Throughout the month, I was sent pictures and information on our projects in the field and it was heartening to see the people we work for smile and to see the fruition of all the hard work Interpal staff were putting in.
Every phone call taken and payment authorised ends up with those that needed it and deserved it. One day there will not be a need to 'mend hope' or provide what are basic human rights to Palestinians, but until then every donation makes a difference by providing something tangible and sometimes something much more human and just as valuable.
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