ST. JOHN'S — This weekend marked a different kind of Eid al-Fitr celebration for Muslims in St. John’s.
Marking the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan, typically Eid al-Fitr would involve a large sociable gathering of people sharing food.
While Curry Delight co-owner Muhammad Nasir said people this year celebrated virtually, it’s not the same.
“It’s a totally different feeling when you’re at someone’s house breaking fast, and they come to your house, and families get together. But none of that could happen this year around the world, which was strange for us socially — and mentally, also.
“I can’t even imagine people who have no families, and no connections, who are living here maybe to study, or for work. I can’t imagine how they might be feeling, so this is a little gesture to hopefully make their day a little better.”
Nasir nodded towards the volunteers standing outside Curry Delight in Mount Pearl on Sunday. They were waiting for him and his wife, Afiya Altaf, to bring 150 meals outside to be delivered to Muslim people in the metro area who are in need, and feeling isolated, during the holiday.
“During the month of Ramadan as you are fasting, it’s not about just not eating food or drink, it’s about being more (self-reflective), more grateful for the things you have. You have the option to break your fast at the end of the day, but some people don’t have that option,” explained Nasir.
Nasir and Altaf spent Saturday evening prepping the meals, and were up early Sunday morning to cook.
Merb’y and Project Kindness founder Hasan Hai came up with the spur-of-the-moment idea Saturday afternoon.
“I was thinking, if this was Christmastime, if everyone had been isolated for a month, unable to see any friends or family all throughout the lead-up — it’s not just the day of, it’s all the social things that go with that. And there’s a Muslim community here in Newfoundland who, the entire of Ramadan, they’ve been unable to socialize the way they normally would.”
Hai teamed up with Curry Delight, who made the food, and NL Eats, whose volunteers delivered the meals. He put a call out on social media on Saturday for donations to pay for the food, as well as for suggestions of people in need who would benefit from a hot meal delivery.
Within 24 hours, they had fundraised close to $3,000. That covered more food than Curry Delight was able to make in such a short timeframe, so they are planning to deliver more meals again next week.
“The context is about Eid and celebration, but it’s also about people who are disconnected, and trying to make them feel welcome, and doing a gesture,” said Hai.
“And so these donations, all of them, have been with the message of 'this is your community, we just want you to know we’re thinking of you, and want to help you celebrate in a small way.'”
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NL Eats began as a food review group, but now also collaborates with other community organizations to provide meals and groceries to people in need.
Mehnaz Tabassum is the director of operations. She said the logistics of planning the deliveries came together very last-minute.
“We actually started planning this yesterday afternoon sometime. It was very quick,” she laughed.
NL Eats marketing director, Adib Rahman, said despite the stressful and confusing time we’re all living through with the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt good to see the community come together.
“So many people came forward to support, and it was only possible because of that,” he said.
“You can’t pull something like this off in a day without the community itself, so they’re the real heroes.”
We're thankful to our friends Hasan Hai and Afiya Altaf at CurryDelight for the opportunity to collaborate in sharing...Posted by NL Eats on Sunday, May 24, 2020