July 1, 2014, Cairo – With the start of Ramadan, several student organizations at The American University in Cairo (AUC) have planned community service activities throughout the month. Organizations are preparing food packages for families who may not be able to afford meals, coordinating iftars for orphans and street children, and hosting mawaed Al-Rahman (tables of food donations) for homeless people.Most student organizations have collected donations and prepared food packages in the days leading up to Ramadan. “Because there are many poor families who can’t afford to buy enough food for Ramadan, AUC community service clubs are helping underprivileged families in different slum areas by providing them with Ramadan bags,” explained Dina Hussein, former public relations head of Resala AUC student club. “The bags range from LE 70 to LE 95, according to the components. Anyone can help by donating money or food, or volunteering in packing or delivering the food items. The more people donate and volunteer — no matter how little the time or money — the more families out there that will find enough food to eat during Ramadan.”
Help Club, for example, will be distributing Ramadan food packages that contain items like oil, ghee, pasta, lentils, black-eyed peas and sugar to families in Old Cairo. “It’s important to do this because a lot of these people are living under the poverty line and can’t afford a meal during Ramadan,” explained Ahmed Hany, a Help Club member.
Other organizations are also preparing Ramadan food packages, including Alashanek Ya Balady, which aims to collect enough donations to get Ramadan packs for 1,000 families in Ain El Sira; Volunteers in Action, which has distributed more than 2,350 food packs in Meet Okba, Kafr Hakim and El Basateen, in addition to delivering hot iftar-to-go meals for orphanages on a daily basis in Ramadan; 3alRaseef, which will be distributing food packages to street children in El-Zelzal; as well as Khatwa Foundation and AUC Developers Inc., which have prepared Ramadan packs together; and Glow, which will distribute food packages to poor families in Imbaba.
“Ramadan is a month where people consume more than usual [with big meals for iftar and suhoor], but poor people don’t have that luxury,” said Yehia Abo El-Nga, a member of Glow’s high board. “We are trying to be the benevolent agents to help fill that gap.”
In addition to preparing and distributing food packages, student clubs are also organizing activities to ensure that the less fortunate can still experience the familial and community spirit of Ramadan. Volunteers in Action (VIA) is organizing its annual iftar for orphans at AUC New Cairo on July 19. “Ramadan is a time when families come together so it’s important for us to make these orphans feel like they are really part of a family,” explained Menna ElBassiouny, VIA’s housing and supplies head. “So we decorate the event with Ramadan decorations, have iftar, pray together and have fun.”
Other clubs are also holding iftars with the less fortunate, including 3alRaseef, which will hold an iftar event with homeless children in El-Zelzal; Resala AUC, which will be holding an iftar event for orphans and the elderly; and the AUC Student Union which is holding a maedat Al-Rahman near AUC Tahrir Square to feed 100 people daily. “We live in a place where there is a big gap between the rich and the poor,” Abo El-Nga said. “As AUCians, it is our social responsibility to take care of our community.”
Hussein also noted the importance of serving the community not only during Ramadan, but throughout the year. “If we all contributed with anything we can do, we can reach more poor families and manage to prevent them from sleeping hungry at night,” she said.