Ramadan Special: Acts of Kindness

19 May 2019
POSTED BY Y Magazine

It’s a special time of year, one that’s devoted to introspection and generosity. Team Y talks to some of Muscat’s most influential people to find out what Ramadan means to them and how consistent acts of kindness all year-round make a difference to our community.

Thirty days of prayer, fasting and abstinence encapsulates the Holy Month of Ramadan to the outside eye; yet, to those observing the fast, it’s more than that: it summons in the spirit of giving, sharing, and above all; caring for one another.

Marked by acts of kindness and generosity, it’s also seen as a time for individuals and companies to reach out to those less fortunate in a bid to show them that they care about one and all – keeping any form of discrimination at bay and teaching the world of the concept of equality that has lost its charm in the modern world.

The belief of giving charity has been penned down in the Holy Quran – as the Surah Baqarah, 2:215 reads: “Whatever of your wealth you spend, shall (first) be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, Allah has full knowledge thereof”.

It’s a notion that has been in practice for centuries and is as old as Islam itself. And thus forms the basis of Zakat – a form of mandatory almsgiving that’s seen as one of the five pillars of Islam and is compulsory for every adult.

But, the spirit of charity is one that Muslims all around tend to keep closer to their hearts as opposed to wearing it on their sleeves, for the act of kindness, they say, comes from charity that is done in private.

It’s also elucidated in depth in the Holy Quran. It reads, “If you do deeds of charity openly, it is well; but if you bestow it upon the needy in secret, it will be even better for you, and it will atone for some of your bad deeds. And Allah is aware of all that you do”.

We find that it is a belief that echoes itself in a trip to find out some of the acts of kindness and charity, as we head out on a mission to understand what’s being done to help the needy and how the Holy Month of Ramadan falls into the grand scheme of things.

It was last week when Y and its sister radio station Al Wisal headed out on a mission to Baushar to learn about the case of two orphan sisters who were struck down with a life-threatening skin disease (name withheld upon request) that left them on wheelchairs and in need of urgent medical attention.

Unfortunately, funds were short and help from the public was scarce.

However, a video posted on our social media is all it took for the two girls and their uncle to receive help from and substantial monetary support from the public.

Shared and re-posted numerous times across all social media platforms, the video has had several individuals contacting the uncle, Saud al Rahbi, to offer the girls all the support they need and deserve.

It’s something Ali al Harthy, the media coordinator of a leading bank in Oman, believes is the power of social media. He says: “The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the video is to reach out to the family and help them in any way possible.

“While a lot of people see this as an opportunity to help them, there’s a gap between those in need of money and platforms that can propagate such information – and social media is slowly bridging this.”

Ali keeps the details of his donation quite close to his heart citing his belief of keeping such “sensitive matters” away from the public’s eye.

We also encounter this with several others who made donations to the girls’ treatment and the purchase of new wheelchairs – no one was ready to reveal how they helped the family get through what can be said is a tough period of their lives.

But, with more than 150 responses and requests from people with regards to the same, we’re left to believe that the spirit of Ramadan and of giving knows no bounds.

It’s something that also brought tears to the eyes of Saud al Rahbi, as was reported to us by one lady (who wished to remain anonymous) who had donated.

To understand more about this, we speak to several members of the public, companies running Ramadan initiatives and charity organisations, this week, to understand the importance of the Holy Month and how the act of giving is indeed spread over the course of the year.

Fatima Hamayon, founder and director of New Heights Agency Muscat, on the importance of social media in almsgiving and how to keep the spirit of giving going even after the Holy Month.

The Holy Month of Ramadan is the period of time that is usually believed to be one of fasting and prayer – and we’ve all been taught about it from our childhood. We use this time to connect with Allah and become better people.

As a part of this, people around the world also partake in the act of almsgiving as a part of Zakat. But one thing about charity itself is that you don’t have to restrict yourself to it during the Holy Month.

The month undeniably encourages people to give to the needy and help them in every way possible but I believe that we must have that feeling instilled in us during every single month.

There are several people out there who run campaigns on WhatsApp and through NGOs to provide money and gifts in kind to the poor in Oman, and I’d like to see a bit more support from the people here in that aspect.

As a Muslim who observes Ramadan, I believe that it is our duty to follow the Holy Quran and show the world that we care about each and every person on this Earth.

And that’s why the Holy Month of Ramadan is one that’s of great importance to us; it reminds everyone out there about the core values of being a Muslim.

Keeping that aside, I believe that social media is taking the act of Zakat to a whole new level. While this is being proven across the globe every day, I think that in Oman, it’s slowly gaining popularity.

This goes to show in the case of the two girls who have been struck down with the disease and have been confined to wheelchairs. My first instinct when I watched the video was to take action and spread the word to help collect some funds to help them.

I won’t reveal how much we’ve collected from our family and friends, but we’d certainly like to continue extending our support to the people of the country who are in dire need of help.

Yamin al Balushi, a philanthropist and photographer, talks about how a group of people have been involved in offering donations during the Holy Month and how they hope to take it to the next level this year.

Firstly, I would like to wish everyone a blessed and holy Ramadan.

Our group, Kun Aban Li – translated in English to ‘Be My Father’ –  blends the idea of giving charity and setting up a platform for several
philanthropists to get the right means to get their
efforts to the right people.

The group itself is six years old and I’ve been with them for two years now. The greatest achievement we can say that the group has achieved is in collecting money and giving it to the poor.

All of us in this group believe that goodness comes from within and that Allah has blessed us enough that we need to now begin concentrating our efforts to help those who cannot make ends meet.

This could be due to several reasons but we don’t discriminate – and that’s what our group has successfully been able to do.

We’re still drawing up our plans for this year’s charity events, and we’re working overtime to bring it to life. While we wouldn’t be comfortable revealing our plans before it has materialised, I would be happy to let you know that it will be the biggest event in our group’s history.

Khimji Ramdas’ social and charity wing, Eshraqa, helps in providing needy families with food boxes

Health and well-being is every human being’s birthright. 

Today, we live in a world where we see people struggling to make ends meet or even put a wholesome meal on the table for their families. 

But, no one must struggle for food, believes Eshraqa – the CSR wing of Khimji Ramdas. It’s a concept they’re putting into practice as they distributed more than 10,000 food boxes to the needy families in Oman. 

The 10,500 Ramadan boxes contained basic foodstuffs that included items such as oil, rice and even sugar – and it found its way into the homes of families in Muscat, Khaburah, Ibri, Saham, Suwaiq, Seeb, Buraimi, Nakhal, Rustaq, and Fanja.

Eshraqa’s initiative this year was in collaboration with 22 organisations, including several members of the Majlis al Shura, sports teams, volunteer groups, social funds, schools and social welfare committees. 

In a statement to local media, Rajiv Ahuja, the director of corporate communications and CSR at Khimji Ramdas, said: “Over the years we have been associated with certain teams and institutions that we have grown to trust for proper and equitable distribution.

“We also distribute some boxes through our staff members.

“The process of fabricating boxes, sourcing and packaging is almost a month long, while distribution through our partnering teams takes about two to three weeks.

“Each box is meant for a family unit, and we do the distribution through charity teams, volunteering groups, and welfare associations.”

Meanwhile, Nailesh Khimji, Director of Eshraqa, added to the company’s statement: “We are humbled by the way our long-standing tradition of engaging the community and enriching their lives has been appreciated by the community.

“Our annual Ramadan charity boxes contain basic foodstuffs meant for the underprivileged sections of our society.

“To ensure equitable support to as many as possible, Eshraqa partners with various social welfare organisations and volunteering teams before the Holy Month to reach these essentials to people even in far-flung villages. 

He added: “Khimji Ramdas has been conducting this activity for a long time now, but it is only after Eshraqa, our Corporate and Social Responsibility arm was set up four years ago that our process has become more streamlined and organised.”

Ooredoo’s Goodwill Journey hits the grand 15 as they continue helping in building a community-focused outlook more so than ever before.

As an integral member of Omani society, Ooredoo is a community-focused company that is guided by a vision to enrich people’s digital lives and stimulate human growth. 

One of the company’s flagship Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes, the Goodwill Journey, was launched in 2005 and has impacted more than 140,000 people across the Sultanate over the past 14 years. Now, the team of dedicated Ooredoo volunteers is ready to embark on its 15th Journey this Ramadan.

An enabler of social and economic progress, the Goodwill Journey focuses both on digital enablement, education and training for women and also providing much-needed donations and support to communities countrywide. This includes helping those with disabilities and special needs and community projects.

As every year, Ooredoo will continue to focus on driving the empowerment of the female workforce through their incubators, by enhancing their skillsets through a series of workshops in a variety of disciplines including IT, beauty, cooking, sewing, handicrafts and furniture. The company continues to foster the right eco-system for women’s incubators to thrive and grow.

The company also invests in sustainable programmes that enhance the learning abilities of children. In addition, Ooredoo has entered an alliance with the Ministry of Social Development to develop a sustainable project in the Al Wafa Rehabilitation Centres for Disabled Children in different Wilayas and other associations under the umbrella of the Ministry.

The caring nature of the Ooredoo family is demonstrated year after year as the Goodwill Journey leaves an everlasting impression. A mission of care, compassion and sustainability, this year’s Journey will build on the successes of previous years and go the extra mile with new initiatives and enriching partnerships to empower more communities across the Sultanate.

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