In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Edmonton’s Ismaili Muslim community is giving back.
It’s through a national volunteer initiative called Ismaili CIVIC, which supports Canadians during the month of Ramadan.
“The current health crisis has brought this opportunity, has presented us with this to sort of highlight the ethics and values of our faith,” Ismaili CIVIC volunteer Latif Haji said.
Volunteers in Edmonton collected roughly 2,500 pounds of food for the Edmonton Food Bank and have sewn more than 1,000 masks for those in need.
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Those efforts were celebrated Saturday, marking the end of Ramadan.
“I just feel overwhelmed with their generosity,” said Zahra Somani, president of the Edmonton Ismaili Council.
“Eid is a time of celebration of giving back. We’re really proud to be part of the fabric of this wonderful country.”
Nationally, the Ismaili Muslim community in Canada has committed to:
- making 10,000 masks
- donating 10,000 pounds of food to Canadian food banks
- giving 100 donations of blood to Canadian Blood Services
- volunteering 60,000 hours to the Kids Help Phone
Typically the event is run from individual mosques where boxes are placed to collect donations.
This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, bins were placed at Save-On-Foods locations throughout Edmonton.
“We picked the month of Ramadan because it’s such an important month for the Muslim community,” said Alia Kassam-Dhalla, community relations lead for the Edmonton Ismaili Council.
“That’s the month where members of the community or Muslims, in general, are more generous and volunteers really are able to come out and help, and the whole notion of volunteerism is so important for us.”
Edmonton’s Food Bank said every bit counts.
“We really feel like we’re running a marathon,” spokesperson Carly Kincaid Williams said.
“It’s not a sprint, so we’re preparing for the long haul here.
“To see the Ismaili community come together is going to inspire other groups.”
Ramadan celebrations this year looked quite different.
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With public health restrictions on gatherings in place, the community relied heavily on technology.
“It’s been very tough,” Kassam-Dhalla said. “This is an interesting year because we were not able to… come together with the families and be together and celebrate.”
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