Tomorrow is Eid, and as Ramadan draws to a close, it’s time for us to say thank you to everyone who has been working to help people celebrate despite the lockdown. The Muslim community is a huge part of Oxford life, and of Oxford Mutual Aid as well, and we hope everyone has a fantastic Eid.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, during which many Muslims observe a fast from sunrise to sunset. It is a time of reflection and prayer, but it is also very important to community life. Each night, people break their fast with a meal called an iftar, usually starting with dates.
The iftar is often a communal event, and during the evenings it’s common to see many people coming together to eat and celebrate. The last day of Ramadan is marked by Eid-ul Fitr, commonly known as Eid, and it is one of the two most important Islamic holidays.
In other words, Ramadan is a big deal. Like Christmas or Passover, it binds families and communities together.
It’s hard to celebrate as a community when you can’t leave the house. As soon as everyone began to realize how long lockdown would last, it was clear we would need to think creatively to help people observe Ramadan this year.
There are many fantastic community groups in Oxford who have been doing just that, and we are very proud to have worked with them over the last month.They include the Oxford Homeless Project, Oxford Community Action, Syrian Sisters, Iraqi Women Art and War Community Group, Oxford Eid Extravaganza, and BAPs Oxford.
What Have We Been Doing?
Nabila Qureshi has been helping to lead our Ramadan projects at OMA, and she has been working with the Syrian Sisters, Oxford Community Action and the Oxford Homeless Project to ensure that people are supported as they can be during lockdown. A key focus has been making sure people have access to halal meals.
Ramadan Homecook Programme
OMA been offering support to some of our most vulnerable Muslim families by providing them with home cooked meals made by OMA volunteers, with all meals being both Halal and nut-free. Volunteers cook for between 10-30 people one day a week and recipients receive food at least twice a week. OMA provides reheatable packaging and food supplies, and distributes between 150 – 200 meals a week.
The Grand Iftar
Each year, the Muslim community in Oxford organizes a Grand Iftar. It is a hugely important event, and it was clear that organizing it during a pandemic was going to be challenging.
This year, Oxford Mutual Aid worked together with the Oxford Homeless Project, Oxford Community Action, BAPs Oxford and Oxford City Council to prepare and distribute over 2,200 meals.
Doing this all safely involved a lot of careful planning. Logan Hamilton was the OMA project lead, and she mapped out a plan to transform the East Oxford Community Centre into a food preparation and distribution centre that would adhere to social distancing.
Around 300 of the meals went to the Porch and other homeless people in and around Oxford. The rest were distributed by a fleet of drivers that had to be timed with great precision. With over 500 stops to get through, it would not have been possible without these volunteer drivers giving up their entire day.
OMA is again teaming up with a number of groups around Oxford to celebrate Eid. Working with Oxford Homeless Project, Oxford Eid Extravaganza, Populate, Oxfordshire Kindness Wave, Oxford Community Action, Oxford City Council, Iraqi Women Art and War, Dementia Oxfordshire and Nemesis, OMA will deliver Eid Treats to thousands of people around the city and county.
These parcels are filled with sweets, cakes, baklavas, biscuits and much more, much of which has been kindly donated by local businesses. There will be over 650 stops this weekend, so we want to highlight the amazing work of our volunteer drivers again.
We are incredibly grateful to all the people and groups who have worked with us over Ramadan, and we know we will all be working together closely in the months to come. This is a strange and unsettled time, but we will get through it together. We are always looking for new volunteers and new partnerships, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.