Global Impact Day and Charity
By Memoona Ghani, Engage Minnesota
July 4th came and gone.
July 5th came and gone.
But the memories, experiences and the friends of Al Maghrib Impact Muslim volunteers gained in these 2 days will stay with us forever. As part of the Global Impact Day, the Al Maghrib Impact volunteers of Minnesota served food at 2 different homeless shelters and the level of compassion of these volunteers coming out of these shelters was more than it was going in. Hearing about something and then “seeing” that something adds a different level of understanding about that certain situation. Likewise, hearing about homelessness from news or the Internet and then serving the homeless people while listening to their stories and struggles was entirely a different experience.
These experiences brought humility to the volunteers’ experience. We realized the blessings we have been given and increased in understanding the Islamic teachings: “there is a share for the poor and needy in your income.”
In our discussions we expressed that the fact that God has put some of us in this trial of homelessness and poverty is not because one group of people is somehow better than the other, rather it is that God has put the share of the needy in the income of those who are in a better situation. This is so some of us in a better financial situation will help people in need. This in the end will bring our hearts closer to each other, hence building a better brotherhood and sisterhood. It is just so amazing to see that the solution to most of our problems lies in simple acts and gestures done on a continuous basis.
On July 4th, the Impact volunteers served food at St. Anne’s Shelter in Minneapolis. Since this is a Women and Children only shelter, we wanted to do much more for this day but as per Shelter’s request they only delivered the food with some Independence Day decorations to go along with. Volunteers took the prepared food to the location around 4 pm and the shelter coordinator was kind enough to let the volunteers set the food and some decorations before serving.
On July 5th, the Impact volunteers cooked and served food at Simpson Housing in Minneapolis. We served approximately 110 homeless residents. Since at this shelter we had opportunity to cook and serve in person, the volunteers gave a personal touch by decorating the place, cooking the food, serving the food and the best part was the dessert serving and the activity sessions.
The Impact volunteers arrived at the shelter at 4 pm and with the help from the designer at Fancy Wrapper they changed the setting of the cafeteria to a beautifully decorated dining hall. We found out that the designer at Fancy Wrapper has been planning and preparing for this event for months to bring the mission of the Al Maghrib Impact into the decorations and a beautiful dining experience for the shelter guests. That definitely was noticed. In the picture below you will see the before and after of the cafeteria.
Dining area before the volunteers started.
Dining hall after the volunteers worked on it
Some volunteers prepared the food on-site and others prepared fresh food at their homes and brought into the shelter.
Then comes the food serving part. A group of volunteers set up the food outside the kitchen so the serving can start. While some volunteers were running in and out filling and refilling the food trays.
The guests were also curious as to why the volunteers aren’t eating the food with them and they were really surprised to find out that these Muslim volunteers are fasting and can’t eat until the sunset time.
The guests were also given gifts In the picture below you will see the gifts prepared for the shelter guests, the money for which was donated by the Muslim community at large.
Finally came the beautifully arranged dessert. I heard that the volunteers who prepared the dessert had been working for weeks on trying different recipes and styles of presentation to make an awesome experience for the guests, which I believe they were quite successful in.
The Ramadan festivity at this shelter comes to an end close to sunset and volunteers clean up as quickly as possible so they can break their fast since they are still observing the month of Ramadan. Ramadan made this experience even more beautiful for these volunteers as according to their belief any good deed done in the month of Ramadan has rewards multiplied many folds and then on top of that they developed love and compassion for the shelter guests. These volunteers definitely left the shelter with more gratitude towards what they have, better understanding of the seriousness of homelessness in the society. And are definitely going to continue to work towards a better society,
In’ShaAllah or God Willing!
Making an impact. Volunteers recreating the Global Impact logo after all the work is done.
Memoona Ghani works as a Business Analyst at the University of Minnesota. She did her Masters in Software Systems from University of St. Thomas. She lives in Maple Grove.
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