Charity Spotlight: Muslim Welfare Centre and Project Ramadan
Originally published in Halal Foodie Magazine, Summer 2014
By Hafsa Hasan
During the month of Ramadan, we are offered an amazing opportunity to come closer to the Almighty through fasting, acts of worship and charity. Since we live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we forget that there is a poverty crisis happening on our doorstep. Recent surveys of the Golden Horseshoe area, which encompasses the GTA, Hamilton, Durham and York regions estimate that despite various means of social assistance, almost 25% of the families in these areas live in poverty and are food insecure.
In 2009, a group of youth started an initiative called Project Ramadan. Inspired by a similar organization in the US, the basic goal of the initiative was to build food baskets, with enough food to last a family of 4 for one month, and distribute them within the local community. The baskets would be built by volunteers prior and during Ramadan and distributed throughout the month to families in need, inclusive of their religion, background, race or ethnicity. Since its inception in 2009, Project Ramadan has raised $262,000 and distributed 3310 baskets. They went from building and distributing 450 baskets in their first year to 1150 baskets in Ramadan 2013.
The work of the Project Ramadan Team does not start or end with the holy month of Ramadan. Months before the baskets are built, the team reaches out to vendors, corporate sponsors and wholesalers for help in bringing down the cost of the baskets and cover organizational expenses. This allows them to keep the single basket donation amount at $50.00 and ensure that your entire donation goes towards the food in the basket. Their sponsors include Mr. Goudas, Eat More Restaurant & Café, Harvey’s and Halal Brand. They are a 100% volunteer-run organization and without their volunteers and supporters, their work would not be possible.
Their key strategic partner is Muslim Welfare Centre (MWC). They accept the donations for Project Ramadan, issues tax receipts, provide storage space for the donated food from wholesalers and the basket builds and most importantly, screen the families in need and offer them the venue to pick up their baskets. At least half of the baskets are donated to Muslim families in need, to ease their worries about food while fasting whereas the remainder are distributed in the general community.
When asked what their favourite thing about Project Ramadan is, team members respond by saying that it’s a great way for anyone to experience the spirit of Ramadan. Muslims and non-Muslims are welcome to donate, participate and receive the baskets, which enhances the sense of community across religions and cultures. Everyone comes together and works for the same cause, and it is a cause that is very close to everyone’s hearts as the baskets are being delivered to own communities.
In 2014, Project Ramadan plans to be bigger and better than ever. They are aiming to raise $85,000 this year, which will translate into approximately 1,500 baskets. Their launch events as well as the basket builds are coming up later this spring to be sure to check out their website and stay abreast of the new developments taking place in this amazing organization. If you’d like to be a partner, sponsor or want to be more involved, please email Henna at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read about their recent progress in The News Mississauga!
May the spirit of Ramadan dominate our hearts and illuminate our lives throughout the year.