How Ramadan, Eid celebrations helped Filipinos nurture closer ties with Palestinians

How Ramadan, Eid celebrations helped Filipinos nurture closer ties with Palestinians
How Ramadan, Eid celebrations helped Filipinos nurture closer ties with Palestinians

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - British Muslim children raise more than $132,000 during Ramadan campaign for displaced families in Gaza, Yemen

LONDON: British Muslim children on a cooking campaign during Ramadan have raised more than £106,000 ($132,000) to help displaced families and children in Palestine and Yemen.

The humanitarian campaign, Ramadan Kids, was first launched four years ago by then 10-year-old Zaavier Khan from East London.

This year, the campaign involved 23 children touring restaurants across the UK capital and learning how to cook an array of dishes.

“It was just a grassroots initiative that started in my kitchen because my son was supposed to embark on his journey of Ramadan, and as a British Muslim, I thought I wanted to really mark this occasion for him,” his mother, Tahreem Noor, told Arab News.

Khan began the campaign on his own during Ramadan 2021 to collect £5,000 for UK food parcels. The following year he raised £10,000 with the help of a handful of children, and last year he began touring restaurants and homes, and cooked with a 15-member squad, raising more than £42,000.

“Every year since then, we’ve done the Ramadan Kids campaign (and) every year the team has grown by a few children,” she added.

This year, the children, aged between four and 13, visited four restaurants. They also filmed their personal cooking at home and uploaded the footage to social media, calling on donors to help fund them via an online donation link.

“They were cooking in their own kitchens and sending us videos for us to upload to promote the concept of Ramadan Kids, but at the same time, fundraising for their own sub links as well,” Noor said.

“This year, we decided to give all the kids that took part in the campaign a Ramadan Kids pack that had lots of Islamic resources,” she added.

The children also received a 30-day journal to learn about the Muslim religion throughout the month.

The pack included religious educational material, Eid decorations and balloons, and customized pens and hoodies, which the children wore at the Ramadan Kids-related events that were held across the month.

As part of the fundraising campaign, the children visited Indian restaurant Saffron Street — the campaign’s regular annual sponsor for the last four years. They “cooked up a storm with chef Nitesh,” Noor said.

Pakistani theme-based cafe Naanstaap, Moroccan steakhouse HS & Co. and US fast food chain The Halal Guys also hosted the group.

Among the dishes the children learned to make this year were marinated chicken, grilled chicken burgers, and naans with cheese and chicken filling.

“It was a really fun hands-on experience for the children, because, obviously, naan is not something that they will usually make at home because it requires a specialist oven,” Noor said.

“At The Halal Guys, they were taught how the gyro is cooked and were shown how to plate up a gyro with hummus and the special Halal Guys rice and sauces,” she added.

The campaign also held its third date decorating workshop, with about 100 children registering to stuff, cover and sprinkle dates with various ingredients and chocolates, according to their taste and liking.

Noor said that she has noticed an increase in children’s fundraising initiatives over the past four years, largely due to media exposure, which has “really heightened the concept of charity among the youth now, which is amazing.”

Khan said that he enjoyed getting to learn about the history of the four restaurants and being taught how to cook in the kitchens.

This year, the Ramadan Kids team was “much bigger” as he became a Ramadan teen, celebrating his 13th birthday.

“I felt like a big brother to 20 children,” he said.

“As Ramadan Kids progresses, I feel like we should involve more kids from all over England, cooking food in their own houses and (holding) much bigger events to influence children to make a change during the holy month of Ramadan,” Khan added.

For the third consecutive year, the campaign partnered with local mental health and bereavement charity Supporting Humanity, which sponsored the costs of fundraising kits and goodie bags “to encourage (religious-based) activity,” said Sumaiya Khoda, a trustee at the charity.

Supporting Humanity also also provided the children with marketing services and a platform to raise money via its Givebrite page, Khoda added.

The charity teamed up with delivery partners on the ground via UK-based charities Save One Life, which supports the most vulnerable people in Gaza, and Help Yateem, to support orphans in Yemen, she said.

As part of its Ramadan fundraising initiatives, Supporting Humanity also held its second annual full-day Ramadan street festival, featuring a number of stall holders and vendors from the Muslim community.

Prominent East London and Essex-based restaurants as well as bakers sponsored a “huge food sale” at the event, Khoda said.

An auction was held on the sidelines of the festival selling off art and items signed by major Premier League football teams, such as Manchester United, Liverpool and West Ham United, as well as England and international cricket players, she added.

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