Birmingham Ramadan Flashmobs feed the poor…
Two Birmingham Flashmobs took to the streets this week armed with plates and pans as they planned to deliver pots of home-cooked food to the homeless and needy during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The group of around 20 volunteers set up a makeshift ‘meal centre’ outside Waterstones, in the city’s High Street, as part of an ongoing committment to feeding the poor and destitute during the 30 day period of fasting in the Muslim calendar. Despite being forced to hold back the weekly effort during the recent riots, the food stall made a welcome return as helpers handed out rice, meat, fruit and drink to hungry recipients.
Ghafor Ayub, who works with the charity ISRA Feed the Poor, joined the volunteers on Wednesday as they distributed hot food to the needy.
“It means quite a lot to us because we’re helping the poor by giving them food and trying to show at the same time that the Muslim community is there for them and not just for our own kind,” he explained.
“We do help countries around the world but we should also try to help our own country where we can. It’s also good to get to meet new people and see the joy in their eyes, so it’s a priceless experience to be honest.”
Many of those involved in the Ramadan Flashmobs, which have been appearing randomly across the city centre throughout August, have also been enjoying the food as they break their daily fast – following a period without food or drink between the hours of sunrise and sunset – in a meal known in Arabic as the ‘iftar‘.
Originating in Manchester in 2008, Ramadan flashmobs have been appearing across the country with the city’s efforts having been launched last year by Birmingham University student Umamah Ahmed. She told us:
“It’s the holy month of Ramadan and Muslims are fasting all across the world and we wanted to share this special time at sunset with people from the homeless community and refugee communities because we know a lot of people don’t have access to hot food and breaking the fast is a really special time where family and friends gather together, so we wanted to open this out to the whole of the community.”
A number of those attending to accept handouts were refugees, many of whom live and receive aid from local shelters and charities. Volunteer Anna Gray, who first helped out at a shelter when she was ten-years-old, felt the initiative to feed those on the streets was a positive one.
“I think what they’re doing is brilliant. To give food, to help the homeless and they’ve been doing it for a few years now so I think it’s just great to put a smile on people’s faces and fill their stomachs,” she said.
As the religious month of Ramadan draws to a close at the end of August, a final public Flashmob Iftar was also held last night (Sat 27th August) between 7-9pm. Organiser and music artist Black Snow hopes to continue having a regular food drive for the homeless outside of Ramadan too. The month will conclude with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.
GALLERY: Birmingham Ramadan Flashmob 2011
VIDEO: Birmingham Ramadan Flashmob 2011
VIDEO: Birmingham Ramadan Flashmob 2010