A few weeks ago I became involved in a volunteer organisation, called #1man1can initiative for Syria. As the war situation there is quickly deteriorating, the desperation amongst the civilians and thousands of refugees has increased. The thought concept behind this drive was that if each person donated just 1 can of food, it would make a huge contribution towards alleviating at least the food crisis that war brings. Lists of essential food items were drawn up and families were asked to donate a few items. All donated food will be transported to Yemen by a South African organisation called Gift of the Givers Foundation, and will be distributed in refugee camps in Yemen, as well in Syria itself.
In 2010, after Husband and I performed Hajj, we spent a few days in Damascus, Syria, before we returned home. It truly was a magical, beautiful experience. Syria has always had a special place in my heart ever since, and so when this campaign came to my attention, I jumped at the opportunity to help bring awareness.
My own Little People as well as my young students were so eager to get involved, and to help. They showed the posters to their teachers, and neighbours. They wanted to buy cans of food, and contribute their own money. They internalised the suffering of the people there, and it became something of a personal aim for each and every one of them. Everyday, friends and family would drop off their humble efforts, and slowly but surely it grew into a sizeable donation. When the kids would see the boxes piling up, their eyes would light up, and they would constantly ask ‘How many people can eat from here? How many days will this food last?’
Talking to children about war, disasters and famine, isn’t always easy, but when they’re old enough to understand it should also not be a topic to be shied away from. It teaches hem to appreciate the relative safety and comfort of what they’ve been blessed with. This particular project highlighted that they do have the ability to do something to help. It made them realise that every little bit helps, and feel like they were contributing to a greater good, and that instilled in them a sense of pride and accomplishment.
It presented a good opportunity to teach the following hadeeth:
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Umar (Radhiallahu anhu):
Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said,
“A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection.”
Sahih Bukhari – Volume 3, Book 43, Number 622.
And the best part about teaching children is that everything you teach, is a reminder to yourself first!